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.

Florida and Texas both fall off our list of contenders this week after losses on Saturday.

Notre Dame’s schedule looks to be tougher down the stretch with Northwestern and Syracuse playing great football right now.

The Big 12 and Big Ten hopes may depend on if their champions can finish with one loss.

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

The first rankings from the College Football Playoff committee will be announced Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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 nine.

The Contenders

Atlantic Coast Conference

Clemson is the only ACC contender for the playoff but it is helpful to see three ACC teams jump in the top 25 this week.  We will have to see if those three are in the CFP committee’s rankings Tuesday night.

Clemson is gaining more respect nationally with the dominate play the last three weeks.  They are positioned to be No. 2 when the first CFP rankings come out.

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 (8-0): Nov. 3 (Louisville), Nov. 10 (at Boston College), Nov. 17 (vs. Duke), Nov. 24 (vs. South Carolina)


Florida dropped from the list of contenders after the loss to Georgia.  This week will drop two from the list of contenders from the SEC.  Georgia and Kentucky battle with the SEC East title on the line.

Alabama travels to LSU for a game that will decide the SEC West champ.    The two losers this weekend will be dropped as contenders unless Alabama is one of the losers. If the Tide falls this weekend but wins out they will still be a contender down the stretch.

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 (7-1): Nov. 3 (at Kentucky), Nov. 10 (vs. Auburn), Nov. 17 (vs. UMass), Nov. 24 (vs. GT)

Kentucky (7-1): Nov. 3 (vs. Georgia), Nov. 10 (at Tenn), Nov. 17 (vs. MTSU), Nov. 24 (at Louisville)

Big 12

Texas’ loss to Oklahoma State has dropped them from the list of contenders.  Oklahoma and West Virginia are still in the hunt but will likely need to run the table. Oklahoma has a big test this week at Texas Tech while West Virginia head to Texas.

A two-loss Big 12 champion is unlikely to make the playoff so one of the contenders will need to run the table.

Oklahoma (7-1): Nov. 3 (at Texas Tech), Nov. 10 (vs. Okl State), Nov. 17 (vs. Kansas), Nov. 23 (at West Virginia)

West Virginia (6-1): Nov. 3 (at Texas), Nov. 10 (vs. TCU), Nov. 17 (at Okl. St), Nov. 23 (vs. Oklahoma)

Big Ten

Michigan and Ohio State remain in the hunt for the playoff, but they will likely need to run the table to make it. Michigan has a challenge this week when Penn State visits, but the two appear headed towards a showdown on Nov. 24.

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 continues to look like a long shot, but if the Big Ten and Big 12 champs end up with two losses there is still hope. Washington State picked up a big win over Stanford this weekend.

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

Washington State (7-1): Nov. 3 (vs. Cal), Nov. 10 (at Colorado), Nov. 17 (vs. Ariz), Nov. 24 (vs. Wash)


Notre Dame is sitting at No. 3 but the schedule all of a sudden looks tougher down the stretch. 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 (8-0): Nov. 3 (at Northwestern), Nov. 10 (vs. FSU), Nov. 17 (vs. Syracuse), Nov. 24 (at Southern Cal)


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