Only 11 schools still have a legit shot to make the College Football Playoff



Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs
Stetson Bennett of the Georgia Bulldogs .

  • Chaos shook up the playoff picture as three Top 10 teams lost in Week 10.
  • As we near the conference championship games, only 11 teams still have a legit shot at the College Football Playoff.
  • Using 538's and ESPN's playoff projectors, we take a look at the 11 teams that are still alive.
11. UCLA Bruins

UCLA Bruins

Record:  8-1

Last week's playoff ranking: 12

538 playoff probability: 10.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 1.5%

How they can make the playoff: UCLA needs to run the table, including wins over USC and whoever they would face in the conference title game. If the latter is Oregon, it will present the Bruins the chance to avenge their only loss on the season. At that point, it probably comes down to the Pac-12 champion or a non-champion one-loss team from either the SEC or Big Ten for the fourth spot.

10. USC Trojans

USC Trojans

Record:  8-1

Last week's playoff ranking: 9

538 playoff probability: 13.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 6.4%

How they can make the playoff: Like the other Pac-12 contenders, the formula for the Trojans is simple: Win out, including games against UCLA, Notre Dame, and in the conference title game, and then hope for some chaos higher up in the rankings.

9. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide

Record:  7-2

Last week's playoff ranking: 6

538 playoff probability: 4.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 16.2%

How they can make the playoff: Despite two losses, 'Bama is not eliminated, mainly because it is 'Bama. But at this point, the Tide are unlikely to get a spot in the SEC title game, so they would have to convince the committee to take its first two-loss team — and one without even a conference title at that.

8. LSU Tigers

LSU Tigers

Record:  7-2

Last week's playoff ranking: 10

538 playoff probability: 15.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 5.8%

How they can make the playoff: There has still never been a two-loss team in the CFP, but LSU has a path to change that. With their win over Alabama and their only conference games remaining against 5-4 Arkansas and 3-6 Texas A&M, the Tigers will likely represent the SEC West in the championship game. A win over No. 1 Georgia there would be a pretty loud statement and hard to ignore.

7. Oregon Ducks

Oregon Ducks

Record:  8-1

Last week's playoff ranking: 8

538 playoff probability: 22.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 13.9%

How they can make the playoff: Oregon has the best shot at breaking into the playoff among the Pac-12 teams. If they win out — including an upcoming match against Utah — they will be 12-1 and champs of the much-improved conference. There hasn't been a Pac-12 team in the playoff since the 2016 season (Washington). There will be a lot of support for that drought to end if Oregon runs the table.

6. TCU Horned Frogs

TCU Horned Frogs

Record:  9-0

Last week's playoff ranking: 7

538 playoff probability: 34.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 15.5%

How they can make the playoff: It's hard to say an undefeated team in a Power-5 conference has to win out in order to make it, but TCU has to win out. Four straight wins over then-ranked teams, including then-No. 8 Oklahoma State, is an excellent résumé. But they cannot afford a slip-up this week against Texas or in the Big 12 title game. If they do run the table, there will be a lot of yelling if a one-loss SEC or Big Ten team gets in ahead of TCU.

5. Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers

Record:  8-1

Last week's playoff ranking: 4

538 playoff probability: 34.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 30.5%

How they can make the playoff: Clemson's blowout loss to unranked Notre Dame will be hard to overlook when the final votes are cast. Still, if the Tigers go 12-1 and win the ACC, that might be enough to leap-frog over the Michigan-Ohio State loser who won't be in the Big Ten title game. 

4. Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Volunteers

Record:  8-1

Last week's playoff ranking: 1

538 playoff probability: 38.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 64.6%

How they can make the playoff: Tennessee's blowout loss to Georgia did not eliminate the Vols by any stretch, and they are probably still in the playoff if they win out. The problem is they are now likely locked out of the SEC title game and only have one game remaining against a winning team (6-3 South Carolina). But if they go 11-1 with their only loss to Georgia and a win over Alabama, that's a pretty strong case.

3. Michigan Wolverines

Michigan Wolverines

Record:  9-0

Last week's playoff ranking: 5

538 playoff probability: 44.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 62.2%

How they can make the playoff: Michigan has quietly cruised through its first nine games. The Wolverines still have a test head against Big Ten West-leading Illinois, but assuming they get past that game unscathed, all eyes are on the matchup against Ohio State with a spot in the Big Ten title game on the line. The winner likely locks up a playoff spot, and the loser will need help. 

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record:  9-0

Last week's playoff ranking: 2

538 playoff probability: 67.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 86.3%

How they can make the playoff: With warm-up games remaining against Indiana and Maryland, Ohio State will presumably enter their matchup against Michigan undefeated. That's not necessarily a loser-go-home game, but a loss does mean no chance at a conference championship game, which will hurt. Meanwhile, the winner will get an easy title-game matchup and a likely spot in the playoff.

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia Bulldogs

Record:  9-0

Last week's playoff ranking: 3

538 playoff probability: 67.0%

ESPN playoff probability: 90.6%

How they can make the playoff: After Georgia's throttling of Tennessee, they are as close to a lock as we have right now. With three regular-season games to go (Mississippi State, Kentucky, Georgia Tech), the Bulldogs will almost certainly go to the SEC title game undefeated. Even with a loss there, they are probably still in the playoff. 

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