Road to Santa Clara: Who's In?

Road to Santa Clara: Who's In?


Road to Santa Clara: Who's In?


The 2018 college football season is now hitting the stretch run and the number of teams fighting for the College Football Playoff is growing smaller each week.

Each week The Clemson Insider will take a look at the Road to Santa Clara and analyze the teams that still have a shot to make the playoff.

The PAC 12 and Big 12 will likely need some help down the stretch after Washington, Oklahoma and West Virginia all suffered losses.

The first rankings from the College Football Playoff committee will be announced on Oct. 30. Georgia dropped from No. 2 to No. 6 in the latest Amway Coaches Poll after falling to No. 5 LSU.

Who’s In?

If the College Football Playoff started this week the playoff would likely look like this:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Notre Dame

All four teams are in control of their destiny right now. If they win out they are likely to be in the College Football Playoff. There are surprises each year so the contenders that aren’t in right now could make the cut with the selection committee in early December.

Let’s take a look at what the contenders look like after week seven.

The Contenders

Atlantic Coast Conference

Clemson and NC State are the only two ACC teams with a legitimate chance to make the playoff right now unless things get real crazy down the stretch.

With Miami falling to Virginia Saturday the ACC Coastal Division is going to go to a team with at least two losses unless Duke runs the table which we don’t think is likely because of their trip to Death Valley on Nov 17.

If the ACC Champion has a loss this season they may have a difficult time making the playoff based on the poor performance of the conference to this point.

Clemson (6-0): Oct. 20 (vs. NC State), Oct. 27 (at FSU), Nov. 3 (Louisville), Nov. 10 (at Boston College), Nov. 17 (vs. Duke), Nov. 24 (vs. South Carolina)

NC State (5-0): Oct. 20 (at Clemson), Oct. 27 (at Syracuse), Nov. 3 (vs. Florida State), Nov. 8 (vs. Wake Forest), Nov. 17 (at Louisville), Nov. 24 (at UNC), Dec. 1 (vs. East Carolina)


Georgia’s loss at LSU hurt the SEC’s chances of getting two teams in the College Football Playoff. There is one scenario where the SEC would still have a good chance of getting two teams in the playoff. That scenario is if Alabama was to lose to LSU without Tua and then run the table. In that scenario Alabama would likely get a pass for that loss due to the injury like Clemson did last year against Syracuse when Kelly Bryant was hurt.

At this point the only likely chance for any SEC team other than Alabama to make the playoff is to win the SEC Championship game. LSU and several SEC East teams still have a chance to make the SEC Championship game so they are still listed as contenders.

Alabama (7-0): Oct. 21 (at Tenn), Nov. 3 (at LSU), Nov. 10 (vs. Miss St.), Nov. 17 (vs. Citadel), Nov. 24 (vs. Auburn)

LSU (6-1): Oct. 20 (vs. Miss State), Nov. 3 (vs. Alabama), Nov. 10 (at Ark), Nov. 17 (vs. Rice), Nov. 24 (at Texas A&M)

Georgia (6-1): Oct. 27 (vs. Florida), Nov. 3 (at Kentucky), Nov. 10 (vs. Auburn), Nov. 17 (vs. UMass), Nov. 24 (vs. GT)

Florida (6-1): Oct. 27 (vs. Georgia), Nov. 3 (vs. Missouri), Nov. 10 (vs. South Carolina), Nov. 17 (vs. Idaho), Nov. 24 (at FSU)

Kentucky (5-1): Oct. 20 (vs. Vanderbilt), Oct. 27 (at Missouri), Nov. 3 (vs. Georgia), Nov. 10 (at Tenn), Nov. 17 (vs. MTSU), Nov. 24 (at Louisville)

Big 12

The Big 12’s chances took a big hit the last few weeks with Texas taking down Oklahoma and Iowa State giving West Virginia their first loss. A two loss Big 12 champion is very unlikely to make the playoff.

Three contenders remain from the Big 12, but they will need some help.

Oklahoma (5-1): Oct. 20 (at TCU), Oct. 27 (vs. Kansas St), Nov. 3 (at Texas Tech), Nov. 10 (vs. Okl State), Nov. 17 (vs. Kansas), Nov. 23 (at West Virginia)

Texas (6-1): Oct. 27 (at Okl. St), Nov. 3 (vs. West Virginia), Nov. 10 (at Texas Tech), Nov. 17 (vs. Iowa St), Nov. 23 (at Kansas)

West Virginia (5-1): Oct. 25 (vs. Baylor), Nov. 3 (at Texas), Nov. 10 (vs. TCU), Nov. 17 (at Okl. St), Nov. 23 (vs. Oklahoma)

Big Ten

With Penn State falling to Michigan State this week they are no longer a contender for the playoff.

Ohio State and Michigan are both strong contenders. If Ohio State wins out they are a lock to make the playoff. If Michigan wins out they will be a strong contender for sure.

Iowa only has one loss but we don’t expect them to run the table so we are not including them as a contender right now.

A two loss Big Ten champ will have a hard time making the playoff unless things get crazy.

Ohio State (7-0): Oct. 20 (at Purdue), Nov. 3 (vs. Nebraska), Nov. 10 (at Michigan State), Nov. 17 (at Maryland), Nov. 24 (vs. Michigan)

Michigan (6-1): Oct. 20 (at Mich. St), Nov. 3 (vs. Penn St), Nov. 10 (at Rutgers), Nov. 17 (vs. Indiana) Nov. 24 (at Ohio State)

PAC 12

The PAC 12’s chances of making the playoff took a huge hit this weekend when Oregon defeated Washington in overtime. The PAC 12 will need Notre Dame to stumble down the stretch as well as another conference to get back in the mix.

It is very unlikely that a two-loss PAC 12 team will make the playoff. Colorado, Washington State, and Oregon are the only teams remaining with one loss. Oregon and Washington State battle this week.

Oregon (5-1): Oct. 20 (at Wash St), Oct. 27 (at Ariz), Nov. 3 (vs. UCLA), Nov. 10 (at Utah), Nov. 17 (vs. ASU), Nov. 23 (at Oregon St.)

Washington State (5-1): Oct. 20 (vs Oregon), Oct. 27 (at Stanford), Nov. 3 (vs. Cal), Nov. 10 (at Colorado), Nov. 17 (vs. Ariz), Nov. 24 (vs. Wash)

Washington State (5-1): Oct. 20 (at Wash), Oct. 27 (vs. Oreg St), Nov. 2 (at Ariz), Nov. 10 (vs. Wash St), Nov. 17 (vs. Utah), Nov. 24 (at Cal)


Notre Dame escaped with a victory over Pitt this weekend and remains a strong contender if they can run the table. They won’t have a conference championship game, but they will have a strong strength of schedule. If the Irish win out they will be a very strong contender for the playoff.

Notre Dame (7-0): Oct. 27 (vs. Navy), Nov. 3 (at Northwestern), Nov. 10 (vs. FSU), Nov. 17 (vs. Syracuse), Nov. 24 (at Southern Cal)


More The Clemson Insider