CFB Playoff: Outside Looking In

It appears, barring disaster, that LSU, Ohio State, and Clemson will make up 75% of the College Football Playoff.

So, who's the last one in and who's the last two standing outside?

It seems to be that it's going to come down to three teams: Utah, Oklahoma, and Baylor.

Utah is the highest ranked team of the three, as of Sunday's AP poll. The Utes are 11-1, have had only two teams score 20 on them and have held six teams to under 10 points for a game. They head into a showdown with Oregon with a lot of confidence but with a lot to prove. The Utes have only faced one team that's in the current Top 25 and that team is USC, who gave Utah their only loss of the season.

The Pac-12 has been shut out in several seasons of the CFP, including last year. They desperately want back in; however, their lack of ranked competition is a major red flag. They've got to not only beat Justin Herbert and the Ducks, they've got to absolutely blow them out of the water to stand a chance.

Oklahoma is 11-1, with their lone loss coming at Kansas State. The Sooners, as have every team before them under Lincoln Riley, are an offensive juggernaut. Jalen Hurts runs one of the most efficient offenses in college football. The Sooners can come back from large deficits in a hurry, as they did a few weeks ago at Baylor, stunning the Bears after falling behind by 21 points. The Sooners were struggling for a few weeks, falling to K-State and surviving scares against Iowa State and TCU in addition to their miraculous comeback in Waco. However, their dominant performance in Stillwater on Saturday seemed to signal that OU is back in business.

Beat the Bears for a second time and the Sooners will have a resume that frankly overwhelms Utah's. In other words, win and they're in.

The same could be said for Baylor, who shocked everyone but themselves with their 11-1 regular season. Matt Rhule might be one of the best coaches in America, and what he's done in reviving the tattered remains of the Bear program has been nothing short of incredible. Baylor has the best loss of the three teams, falling to Oklahoma in a heartbreaking collapse at McLane Stadium. However, they get their chance at revenge this weekend in Jerry World.

If Baylor wins, who can deny them the final spot? The Bears would not only be 12-1, but they would've avenged their only loss, something that couldn't be said for the other teams. Certainly, they'd jump ahead of Oklahoma by beating them and again, Utah's schedule definitely is hurting their chances, as Baylor would have a ranked victory that would easily look better than any Ute win, save a massive blowout of Oregon.

So right now, the Big 12 has a massive edge over the Pac-12's best. And, if Oregon wins, the point is moot.

What's the only wild card in this scenario? Georgia beating LSU in the SEC title game.

I don't see Wisconsin beating Ohio State. If they do, it opens the door for the Baylor/Oklahoma winner and Utah to slide in, as a 2-loss Badger team likely won't find their way into the playoff. However, if Georgia takes down LSU, the selection committee will have a serious dilemma on their hands.

LSU has looked the part all season. Joe Burrow will likely cruise to a Heisman and the Tigers have looked dominant in every phase of the game. One slip up against Georgia, in Atlanta, where the crowd will definitely be partisan towards the Bulldogs, doesn't seem like enough to eliminate the Tigers from the CFP. After all, a loss to the No. 4 team in the land seems a bit better than a loss to Kansas State or Southern Cal (though a Baylor rout of OU could really make things interesting).

If Georgia wins, there's a good chance the SEC will again get two teams in the CFP, as it'd be hard to leave them out. Yes, Georgia lost to South Carolina, but if they beat LSU and win the SEC (and conference championships are to be heavily valued by the committee), then let the chaos and demand for an expanded playoff begin.

But for right now, if all things hold, the eyes of the football world will be looking at Texas and California hard this weekend, watching to see where the last dominoes fall.

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