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.

Ohio State going down big to Purdue this past weekend helped the possibility of a Big 12 team making the playoff and put the Big Ten is in position with either Michigan or Ohio State to run the table and likely will make the playoff.

The Pac-12 is pretty much done for a chance at making the playoff unless things get really crazy.

The first rankings from the College Football Playoff committee will be announced on Oct. 30. Ohio State dropped from No. 2 to No. 9 in the latest Amway Coaches Poll after falling to Purdue.

Who’s In?

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

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. LSU

All four teams are in control of their destiny right now. 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 eight.

The Contenders

Atlantic Coast Conference

Clemson is now the only ACC team with a legitimate chance of making the playoff after the Tigers dominated NC State Saturday at Death Valley.  It will now take two league losses for another Atlantic Division team to make the ACC Championship game.

If the ACC Champion has a loss this season it may have a difficult time making the playoff based on the poor performance of the conference to this point.  However, if the Big Ten’s and the Big 12’s top teams continue to add losses that could change.

Clemson (7-0): Oct. 27 (at FSU), Nov. 3 (Louisville), Nov. 10 (at Boston College), Nov. 17 (vs. Duke), Nov. 24 (vs. South 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 could still have a good chance of getting two teams in the playoff. That scenario is if Alabama was to lose to LSU without Tua Tagovailoa and then run the table. In that scenario Alabama likely gets a pass for that loss due to the injury like Clemson did last year against Syracuse when Kelly Bryant was hurt. That scenario doesn’t look likely, though, since Tagovailoa played this past Saturday in the win over Tennessee.

At this point the 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.

LSU and Alabama are set for a huge game on Nov. 3 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.  If LSU loses that one it will no longer be a contender.

Alabama (8-0): Nov. 3 (at LSU), Nov. 10 (vs. Miss St.), Nov. 17 (vs. Citadel), Nov. 24 (vs. Auburn)

LSU (7-1): 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 (6-1): 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 look better this week after Ohio State was beat by Purdue. A two-loss Big 12 champion is unlikely to make the playoff so one of the contenders will need to run the table.

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

Oklahoma (6-1): 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

Ohio State’s loss to Purdue dropped the Buckeyes out of the top contenders.  They will now need to win out and have some help to make the playoff.

Michigan is now poised to have a great chance to make the playoff if they can run the table.

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

Ohio State (7-1): Nov. 3 (vs. Nebraska), Nov. 10 (at Michigan State), Nov. 17 (at Maryland), Nov. 24 (vs. Michigan)

Michigan (7-1): Nov. 3 (vs. Penn St), Nov. 10 (at Rutgers), Nov. 17 (vs. Indiana) Nov. 24 (at Ohio State)


The Pac-12’s chances of making the playoff took another hit this week when Washington State defeated Oregon. The Pac-12 is now very unlikely to make the playoff. The best chance is for Washington State to run the table, but they will need things to get crazy elsewhere.

It is very unlikely that a two-loss Pac-12 team will make the playoff.

Washington State (6-1): Oct. 27 (at Stanford), Nov. 3 (vs. Cal), Nov. 10 (at Colorado), Nov. 17 (vs. Ariz), Nov. 24 (vs. Wash)


Notre Dame moved up to No. 3 this week since Ohio State went down to Purdue. They won’t have a conference championship game, but they will have a strong strength of schedule. If the Irish win out they will make 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)



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