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 picture is getting clearer as each week passes.  The SEC title game is now set and Georgia will need to beat Alabama in that game to make the playoff.

Notre Dame picked up a big win over Northwestern and the only remaining big challenge will likely be Syracuse.

Michigan smoked Penn State this weekend and should be No. 4 when the new rankings come out this week.  If they win out they look to be in good shape for the playoff unless Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC Championship game.

The Big 12 is likely going to need a loss from Clemson, Notre Dame or Michigan to get in the playoff.

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 next rankings from the College Football Playoff committee will be announced Tuesday at 9 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. Michigan

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 ten.

The Contenders

Atlantic Coast Conference

Clemson is the only ACC contender for the playoff but it is helpful to see Syracuse, Boston College and NC State ranked in the first CFP rankings.  All three teams won this week so they should move up in the rankings released Tuesday night.

The Tigers crushed Louisville and are clearly showing everyone they are on par with Alabama as the top two teams in the nation.

All of a sudden the Boston College game is a huge game.  The winner will take the Atlantic Division and look for the Eagles to be near a top 15 team this week.  The nation’s attention will be on this one with ESPN GameDay in the house.

This is likely Clemson’s biggest remaining challenge before the playoff, including the ACC Championship game.

Clemson (9-0): Nov. 10 (at Boston College), Nov. 17 (vs. Duke), Nov. 24 (vs. South Carolina)


LSU and Kentucky were dropped from the list of contenders after the losses this week.  The SEC Championship game is now set between Georgia and Alabama.  If Georgia losses that game or another down the stretch they will be eliminated as a contender.  Alabama could still get in the playoff if they win out and lose to Georgia.

The remaining regular season games don’t look like challenges for either team.

Alabama (9-0): Nov. 10 (vs. Miss St.), Nov. 17 (vs. Citadel), Nov. 24 (vs. Auburn)

Georgia (8-1): Nov. 10 (vs. Auburn), Nov. 17 (vs. UMass), Nov. 24 (vs. GT)


Big 12

Oklahoma and West Virginia are still in the hunt but will likely need to run the table. Oklahoma did not look very impressive at Texas Tech.  West Virginia pulled off a miracle win at Texas.  The Big 12 will likely need a loss from Michigan or Notre Dame to make the playoff.

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

Oklahoma (8-1): Nov. 10 (vs. Okl State), Nov. 17 (vs. Kansas), Nov. 23 (at West Virginia)

West Virginia (7-1): Nov. 10 (vs. TCU), Nov. 17 (at Okl. St), Nov. 23 (vs. Oklahoma)

Big Ten

Michigan should find themselves at No. 4 when this weeks rankings come out.

Michigan and Ohio State remain in the hunt for the playoff, but they will likely need to run the table to make it. Michigan was impressive in a dominant win over Penn State this weekend.  Ohio State did not look good almost losing to Nebrasksa.  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 (8-1): Nov. 10 (at Michigan State), Nov. 17 (at Maryland), Nov. 24 (vs. Michigan)

Michigan (8-1): 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 will need to win out to have a shot.

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

Washington State (8-1): Nov. 10 (at Colorado), Nov. 17 (vs. Ariz), Nov. 24 (vs. Wash)


Notre Dame passed one of the biggest remaining challenges with a nice win at Northwestern this weekend.  They are sitting at No. 3 and the biggest remaining challenge is probably the neutral site game against Syracuse.

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 (9-0): Nov. 10 (vs. FSU), Nov. 17 (vs. Syracuse), Nov. 24 (at Southern Cal)



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