The SEC continued to rise, but the Big Ten suffered multiple key losses this weekend. Check out the playoff hopes of the Power Five conferences.
The ACC’s playoff hopes come down to two teams: The University of Miami and Clemson. If Clemson, college football’s reigning champion, wants to make the playoff they have one route, and that is to win out. After a messy loss to Syracuse, even a perfect finish to their season does not guarantee them a spot in the playoff, especially considering the fact that the team has only one more opportunity for a quality win, which would come in the ACC Championship game. The University of Miami is the ACC’s other playoff contender. The team faces their toughest challenge of the season when they square off against No. 3 Notre Dame, a team that has lost one game by one point to undefeated, No. 1 Georgia. If the Hurricanes win the game, dubbed Catholics vs. Convicts, they would have a very easy path to remain undefeated up to the ACC Championship.
The SEC has a golden opportunity to be the first conference to send two teams to the College Football Playoff. Alabama and Georgia, the first and second ranked teams in the nation, seem to be on a collision course to meet undefeated in the SEC championship. Each of these teams will be heavily favored to win their final three regular season games, where Auburn serves as each of the teams’ toughest foe. If these two teams manage to remain undefeated by the time they face off in the SEC Championship, it would be almost impossible for the committee to keep either out of the playoff.
After a disastrous week 10 where both Ohio State and Penn State lost to underdogs and essentially wrote themselves out of the playoff picture, undefeated Wisconsin remains the Big Ten’s only hope at a playoff bid. The Badgers have put together an impressive season thus far, having won all of their contests, usually with ease. However, the team has yet to face a ranked opponent. This coming week, they will play No. 20 Iowa in Madison. The Hawkeyes, who just pummeled Ohio State this past Saturday, will be Wisconsin’s toughest battle of the season. However, due to the lack of talent this season in the Big Ten West, and the fact that all other Big Ten teams have at least two losses, Wisconsin must win its final three games against Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota, and then also win the Big Ten Championship game against either Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan State.
Similar to the Big Ten, the Pac 12’s hopes at a playoff bid are fading, probably even faster, as Washington is their only remaining one-loss team.
The Big 12 has two remaining playoff hopefuls: Oklahoma and TCU. The Sooners and Horned Frogs square off this coming Saturday in Norman. The winner of this game will crown itself the final one loss team in the Big 12 and become the only team from the conference with a chance at a playoff bid. This past offseason, the Big 12, in an effort to make itself more eligible for a playoff bid, decided to institute a championship game. Thus, if the winner of the all important game this weekend wins the remainder of its regular season games, it will have to face the second best Big 12 team again in a championship game. It would be extremely ironic if the winner of this Saturday’s matchup were to lose in the Big 12 championship game, because the game was designed to bolster the conference’s chances at putting a team in the playoff.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are putting together and incredibly impressive season. The team has only one loss, by one point, to the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs. While the team is not in a conference and therefore could not play a conference championship, if it wins its final three games against Miami, Navy and Stanford, the team gives itself an excellent chance at a playoff bid.