(Photo Courtesy of WBRC.com)
1)Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama is in no matter what happens in their SEC Championship game matchup with Florida. Right now, the Tide is one of only two undefeated teams and have a perfect 4-0 record against top 25 competition. The SEC is not the strongest league this year, but even if Alabama loses they will get in.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes
I know they are not even in the conference championship game, but they are 3-1 against teams ranked in the top 10. They are one of only two teams in the country (the other is Michigan) with three wins against top 10 teams, and their lone loss was against Penn State in a very close game.
3) Clemson Tigers
A win in the ACC Championship game will give Clemson a 4-1 record against top 25 teams and put them firmly in the playoffs. The Tigers finally played a complete game in last week’s blowout win over South Carolina; they have played zero top 10 teams, and have seemed to play to the level of their competition. I have them at number three because I think these are the committee’s feelings, not mine! The Tigers have struggled most of the year and have no signature wins.
4) Washington Huskies
The Huskies’ lone loss was suffered at the hands of red-hot USC a few weeks ago, and the Huskies recovered with a dominant performance against Washington State in the Apple Bowl game. A win against no. 8 Colorado will put them in the playoff. With the win, they would be 3-1 against ranked competition. QB Jake Browning and a balanced offense combined with a very good defense make this a dangerous team in the playoffs.
The Penn State Nittany Lions need a loss by Clemson or Washington and a win in their own game against Wisconsin.
Why they should get in if they win: Ohio State’s only loss was to Penn State. With a win over Wisconsin, they will have two wins over top 10 teams.
Why they will not get in with a win: Lost 49-10 to Michigan, but it was early in the season. A Penn State win will give the Lions a very good argument over Clemson and Washington. Will they win that argument? Probably not.
The Badgers are one of the top defensive teams in the country, but the offense has been another matter. They will need a lot of help to get in.
Why they should get in if they win: The Badgers only argument is probably that they won the Big Ten championship game over Penn State.
Why they should not get in: If the Badgers do beat Penn State, it would be only their second over a top 25 team; the other top 25 win was against LSU, who barely even makes that tier. Sure, Wisconsin’s strength of schedule is probably top 5, but they lost to both of the teams (Ohio State and Michigan) that are currently ranked above them. Wisconsin may even need a team like Oklahoma to lose on top of Washington and Clemson. And remember: They lost to Michigan, and the Wolverines have more quality wins than Wisconsin. Wisconsin is not one of the top four teams in the country. If they beat Penn State, it will be their only top 10 win. Michigan has beaten three top ten teams, as has Ohio State; no matter what the Badgers do, they do not deserve a spot before either one of their rivals.
Michigan lost a game against Iowa that they should not have lost and last week lost a game to Ohio State because they could not hold on to the ball.
Why they should get in: Michigan is one of the four best teams. The Wolverines only two losses were in overtime at Ohio.State and a loss at Iowa. They are the only team outside of Ohio State in the country to beat three top ten teams, and they did it for three straight weeks.
Why they should not get in: The main reasons would be that they have lost their last two games and did not make the Big 10 title game.
Teams like Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all have an extreme outside shot to get in. To break down all the scenarios for it to happen would turn this article into a book, and I do not have time for that. I think the top four on this list are unquestioned and all doubt will be removed if Clemson and Washington take care of business. I think this year is a perfect example of why four teams are not enough for a proper college football playoff.
Check out our College Football weekly show where Os Davis, Mike Goodpaster and Aaron Zepnick discuss who should be in and who should be out, plus pick this week’s upcoming games. Be sure to listen Sunday night as Os, Mike and Aaron welcome former Washington Huskie and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Joe Kelly to the show to discuss college football’s final four.