With two weeks left of college football, the playoff picture is starting to shape itself out. Here is a list of the top contenders and what they need to do to secure a spot or keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Tide have been dominate over the course of the season and can pretty much lock up a playoff bid with a victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl. A victory over Florida in the SEC Championship would cement a #1 seed in the playoff. I believe even with a lose to Florida, the Tide will still be in the playoffs.
Best Wins: USC, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU
Urban Meyer's team has played great football for most of the season and find themselves in a potential strange position. If the Buckeyes beat Michigan, they will add another marque win on their resume, BUT will not play for the Big Ten championship if Penn State beats Michigan State. Would not being a conference champion hurt the Buckeyes? Would a 1 loss Clemson, 1 loss Washington, and Big Ten Champion get in ahead of the Buckeyes? A win and a Clemson or Washington loss would help the Buckeyes chances.
Best Wins: Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska
Losses: Penn State
Unlike the Buckeyes, the Wolverines can still win the Big Ten. Their heated rivalry with the Buckeyes will be on center stage this weekend as the loser will likely be eliminated from playoff contention. The Wolverines own the best trio of victories(Wisconsin, Colorado, Penn State) of any team in college football and can add another big win this week and march to the Big Ten Championship. If they beat the Buckeyes, but lose to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, would they still make it? There would definitely be a chance. Most important thing is to beat Ohio State.
Best Wins: Wisconsin, Colorado, Penn State
Another big rivalry game this week- the Apple Cup. Winner takes the north. The Huskies can take another step towards the playoffs and the Cougs can end their dreams of the Playoffs and the Pac-12 championship. Out of conference schedule strength doesn't help, therefore the margin of error is thin. A loss would end their playoff hopes. A win and a Pac-12 Championship victory over Colorado or USC would give them a chance at a playoff berth.
Best Wins: Stanford, Utah
At times the Tigers have looked really good this season and other times they haven't been their best. They need to take care of business against South Carolina and win the ACC championship. A loss would definitely end their playoff hopes as well as the ACC's playoff hopes.
Best Wins: Louisville, Auburn, Florida State
The Badgers have played a very tough schedule and played well against their schedule keeping playoff hopes alive. A rivalry with Minnesota is a must win for the Badgers. Anymore losses would eliminate the Badgers from playoff contention. Beat Minnesota and win the Big Ten Championship is what the Badgers can do to increase their odds of a playoff berth. Would this get them in over a 1 loss conference champ? How about 1 loss Ohio State, who they lost to?
Best Wins: Nebraska, LSU, Iowa
Losses: Ohio State, Michigan
The Buffaloes are the biggest surprise this season. Mike Macintyre has completely turned things around in Boulder and can win the Pac-12 South with a victory over Utah. If Colorado beats Utah and then beats the Apple Cup Champion would they have a chance at the playoffs? The answer is yes, but no guarantee. The Buffaloes need to keep winning and hope chaos strikes Clemson, Oklahoma, or the Big Ten.
Best Wins: Stanford. Washington State
Losses: Michigan, USC
James Franklin has built the Nittany Lions into a contender this season. With one game remaining, Penn State can with the Big Ten East with a victory over Michigan State and a Michigan loss. In order to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, the Wolverines need to lose and the Lions need to take care of business against Michigan State. If both happen, a showdown with the Badgers awaits.
Best Wins: Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota
Losses: Michigan, Pittsburgh
The Sooners are still unbeaten in conference play and have an outside chance of still making the playoffs. With their Bedlam rivalry remaining, they need to beat the Cowboys to keep their hopes alive. With losses to Houston and Ohio State, can the Sooners crack the Top 4? They likely need chaos in the Pac-12 and Big Ten as well as Clemson to lose to feel good about their chances.
Best Wins: West Virginia
Losses: Ohio State, Houston
The Trojans are playing very good football right now. Can the Trojans crack the Top 4? Not likely, but with two weeks remaining it is still possible. They pretty much need a lot of the contenders above them to trip up, especially the Buffaloes. Their fringe hopes are eliminated with a Colorado victory over Utah.
Best Wins: Washington, Colorado,
Losses: Alabama, Utah, Stanford
The Gators, like the Trojans, are fringe candidates. They are still alive because they have a chance to add two more marque wins to their resume. They travel to Tallahassee in a must win for the Gators. Beat the Noles first. Then the task of slaying Alabama approaches. Would wins over both get them in contention? Yes, but they will likely need some madness in other conferences to increase their chances.
Best Wins: LSU
Losses: Tennessee, Arkansas