College Football Playoff Chase: Ranking The 6 Teams Still Alive After Week 13

·8 min read

Who’s still alive in the chase to get into the 2021-2022 College Football Playoff? After Week 13, here are the 6 teams still alive and what they need to do to get in.

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Week 13 Roundup
Rankings CFN 1-130 Rankings | AP | Coaches
Bowl Eligible Teams | Week 13 Scoreboard
Week 14 opening lines | CFP Top 25 Prediction
Bowl Projections, CFP Predictions
Riley to USC, Napier to Florida: GAME ON

And now we’re down to six teams for four spots.

It stinks that the College Football Playoff isn’t expanded. It stinks that all the Power Five conference champions aren’t automatically in. It stinks that we still having to use words like eye-test and style points.

But that’s the deal.

Going into Championship Week, how do the six teams stack up, and which four are most likely to make it?

This isn’t based on how good the teams are. This is about who controls their destiny, what has to happen, and what the pecking order of these six teams are, starting with …

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-1)

Here’s the strange part about Notre Dame and its College Football Playoff chances.

It controls nothing, but it’s easily the first alternate if chaos kicks in.

For example. If Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC Championship – and let’s say it’s relatively convincing – and then let’s say Cincinnati loses to Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship, who’s that fourth team along with Georgia, (assume) Michigan, and (assume) Oklahoma State?

11-1 Notre Dame gets in over 12-1 Cincinnati, and it probably gets in over 11-2 Alabama.

And why?

That Cincinnati loss came way back in early October. Since then there was a decent 32-29 fight with Virginia Tech, and the Irish destroyed everything in their path the rest of the way.

Granted, beating Stanford, Georgia Tech, and Navy isn’t that big a deal – all three have three wins – and beating USC isn’t all that important this year. However, the wins over Wisconsin and Purdue matter, the win over North Carolina matters, and 11-1 will probably matter.

Again, there’s no destiny controlling here. The Irish cake is baked with no conference title game to play for – this would’ve been the year to be in the ACC – and now it needs two losses out of Cincinnati, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and Alabama to do this.

5. Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0)

Cincinnati is realistically in with a win over Houston in the American Athletic Conference Championship. However, it needs one key loss elsewhere to seal the deal.

Why isn’t this a lock at 13-0?

Start with the monster helper that Cincinnati got to play East Carolina while all the top Power Five teams in the mix were killing themselves in huge rivalry showdowns. The committee notices that.

Cincinnati needs either Alabama, Michigan, or Oklahoma State to lose, and it probably can’t get in if all three of them win.

After the weird close-call clunker win over Auburn, we’re done with the idea that the committee would put in a two-loss Alabama – if it loses to Georgia, even in a good, tough fight – over a 13-0 American Athletic Conference Cincinnati. If that happens there’s a problem.

However, at this point, assume Oklahoma State is in with a win – more on that in a moment – and Michigan is a lock with a win.

Cincinnati has to beat Houston and then catch a wee bit of a break, and here’s why …

NEXT: Top 4 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

Top 4 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1)

Here’s what’s lost in the equation after last week’s rankings.

Oklahoma State just beat then-CFP No. 10 Oklahoma. If it wins the Big 12 Championship, it’ll beat a top ten Baylor team to do it.

That means it’ll have closed out with two top ten wins, and technically – according to the CFP rankings – it would be the toughest final kick anyone would’ve faced.

The committee has said from the formation of this thing bay in 2014 that it looks first and foremost at Power Five conference champions, and it only left out one 12-1 team so far – 2018 Ohio State – because it was annihilated by Purdue in its one loss and Notre Dame was 12-0.

Unlike 2021 Cincinnati with its one good win over Notre Dame, the 2018 Irish had a slew of strong wins, including against a Michigan team that was 10-1 going into the Ohio State game.

The committee effectively had to put in that Irish team – along with unbeaten Alabama, unbeaten Clemson, and an Oklahoma team that lost one close game to Texas, but avenged the defeat in the Big 12 Championship.

Considering its easy schedule, Cincinnati doesn’t have to be in over a 12-1 Power Five champion – at least that’s the guess when it comes to how the committee will see this.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that in a year when there will be – at most – three 12-1 Power Five champions, the committee is almost certainly going to respect Oklahoma State if it wins on Saturday.

Most likely.

Now, if Georgia beats Alabama, all that other stuff doesn’t matter. It’s a done deal as long as the Cowboys beat Baylor for the Big 12 title.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

Alabama was second on this list last week and throughout most of the process because 1) it’s in with a 12-1 SEC Championship run and 2) there was some thought that it could get in at 11-2 with a close loss to Georgia.

If Bama had annihilated Auburn and went on to lose to Georgia in a classic, it would’ve been an interesting debate in a four-best-team sort of way that the Fighting Sabans should get in over 13-0 Cincinnati or maybe even a 12-1 Big 12 Champion.

Now, never put it past the College Football Playoff committee to invoke the Because It’s Alabama clause that’s not written down anywhere, but hovers over the room in Grapevine, Texas, but nah.

Alabama loses, it’s going to be out unless both Michigan and Baylor lose their respective Power Five championships. In that case, there’s a shot. Cincinnati – if it beats Houston – and Notre Dame would be mortal locks, and then Oregon would probably be the call if it beats Utah in the Pac-12 Championship, but …

Alabama is in if it beats Georgia. Anything else with a loss is an almost certain no.

NEXT: Top 2 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

Top 2 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

2. Michigan Wolverines (11-1)

There are a whole slew of nice parts to beating Ohio State and possibly becoming the Big Ten champion – besides just beating Ohio State and possibly becoming the Big Ten champion.

All Michigan has to do is beat Iowa on Saturday. Style points aren’t going to matter, and appearances aren’t going to be any sort of a factor. Win, be 12-1, and miss the No. 1 seed in the first round.

If Georgia and Michigan win, they’re 1-2, respectively, and the debate would be over Oklahoma State or Cincinnati or Notre Dame for that third slot. Whatever it is, Michigan wouldn’t play the Bulldogs.

Also, if Georgia were to lose to Alabama, Michigan would still likely be the No. 2. Alabama would probably move up to 1, and even then, not playing the top seed in this is a plus.

In other words, Michigan has no shot of being the 4 seed as long as it beats Iowa. Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame might have to deal with that.

Whatever. Michigan beat Ohio State.

Beat Iowa, get into the College Football Playoff.

1. Georgia Bulldogs (12-0)

The only question about Georgia at this point is if it’s possible to not be the 1 seed.

It’s in, but …

If Alabama wins the SEC Championship 55-0 there would be a monster debate over possibly leaving out a 13-0 Cincinnati or 12-1 Big 12 Champion Oklahoma State for a Georgia team that doesn’t really have that many amazing wins – but that’s assuming that this scenario plays out and it’s a Bama blowout.

Even if Georgia were to lose a close, tight game to Alabama it still could be the 1, but it would be no worse than 2 or 3 – it doesn’t matter which.

At this point, though, it would take something catastrophic for Georgia not to be in the College Football Playoff.

Week 13 Roundup
Rankings CFN 1-130 Rankings | AP | Coaches
Bowl Eligible Teams | Week 13 Scoreboard
Week 14 opening lines | CFP Top 25 Prediction
Bowl Projections, CFP Predictions
Riley to USC, Napier to Florida: GAME ON

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