We are now more than halfway through the college football season and teams into the heart of their conference schedules. However, there are still 19 teams that have a conceivable chance at making the inaugural FBS playoffs. Four teams are going to make it. We just won’t know which ones until six more weeks of the regular season and the conference championships have been played. Below are the teams still in the running, listed in the order of their likelihood to make the playoffs.
1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
7. Michigan State
8. Notre Dame
11. Ohio State
13. Kansas State
15. Arizona State
Note that there some teams currently in the top 25 in the rankings that are not included on this list, while there are teams not in the top 25 that did make this list. I have eliminated (for now) any team with more than one loss. Any team in a major conference (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12) that currently has less than two losses was included. Marshall, although undefeated and ranked in the top 25, was not included due to the fact that they do not play any teams from a major conference. East Carolina, although ranked and only has one loss, was not included because they are not in major conference. The assumption is that the only possible way that a team from a mid-major could make it is that they went undefeated and played at least one team from a major conference.
Teams that fell from the ranks of the undefeated last week: Baylor, Notre Dame.
Teams that dropped out of the playoff race last week: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Washington, Iowa, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, Rutgers.
Key matchups this week:
Oregon at California. The Ducks must win to stay alive in the playoff chase and in the race for the PAC-12 title.
Texas at Kansas State. The Wildcats need a win to stay in the playoff race and remain undefeated in the Big 12.
Rutgers at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers need to win to remain in the playoff race and in the hunt for the Big Ten title.
Minnesota at Illinois. The Gophers need a win to stay in the playoff chase and remain undefeated in the Big Ten.
Mississippi State at Kentucky. The Bulldogs need to remain undefeated and hold their claim to a top four ranking.
Michigan at Michigan State. The Spartans need a win to stay in the playoff chase and remain undefeated in the Big Ten.
Texas Tech at TCU. The Horned Frogs need to win to stay in the playoff race and in the chase for the Big 12 championship.
Arizona at Washington State. The Wildcats need to win to stay in the playoff race and in the race for the PAC 12 title.
Mississippi at LSU. The Rebels need to remain undefeated and hold their claim to a top four ranking.
Alabama at Tennessee. The Crimson Tide needs to win to say in the playoff chase and in the race for the SEC title.
South Carolina at Auburn. The Tigers need to win to say in the playoff chase and in the race for the SEC title.
Ohio State at Penn State. The Buckeyes need a win to stay in the playoff chase and remain undefeated in the Big Ten.
USC at Utah. The Utes need to win to remain in the playoff and race and in the race for the PAC 12 title.
Arizona State at Washington. The Sun Devils need to win to stay in the playoff race and in the race for the PAC 12 title.
(Oddly enough, there are no elimination games this week, after we had six of them last week)