These teams may be down, but they’re far from out of the College Football Playoff conversation. Odds on the 1-loss teams who can make the dance.
The cream is starting to rise to the top in college football where three undefeated teams lost last weekend and Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame all recorded big wins to establish themselves as the clear five best teams in the nation after six weeks. I have a pretty good feeling that at least three of those five will be in the College Football Playoff.
I feel most confident in Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson because I think they have the best odds of winning their respective conferences which is the best way to win favor with the playoff committee. I like this Notre Dame team, but they could go undefeated and there could be a crazy confluence of events that keep the Fighting Irish on the outside looking in.
All those teams are undefeated and if they continue to win, they’ll be in great shape, naturally, and there will be little debate about the four best teams.
However, there are more than five teams still in the playoff picture. Granted, they are all facing must-win situations the rest of the way because they’ve already lost once.
The margin of error is now eliminated for these teams, but just because they’re not perfect doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to play for, including staying alive for the playoff should the aforementioned Fab Five stumbles and loses once.
I’ve lined up the 10 teams with one loss and their odds of crashing the College Football Playoff.
1. Penn State (4-1)
- Loss: Ohio State
- Notable remaining games: Michigan State, Iowa, at Michigan, Wisconsin
- Odds to win out: 23.1 percent
- Make the Playoff: 14 percent
The Nittany Lions lost their biggest game of the year at home to Ohio State who used a fourth-quarter comeback to hand James Franklin another crushing loss in this budding rivalry. The schedule has some challenges remaining, most notably a road date with Michigan, who has won five straight since losing to Notre Dame in the opener. Despite the Big Ten slate ahead, the ESPN FPI gives them a 23.1 percent chance of winning out. They only have a 3.5 percent chance to win the Big Ten, so it’s not great, but if they win out, they have the best chance of crashing the playoff.
2. Oklahoma (5-1)
- Loss: Texas (neutral site)
- Notable remaining games: at TCU, Oklahoma State, at West Virginia
- Odds to win out: 14.9 percent
- Make the Playoff: 12 percent
The Sooners have a 38.7 percent chance of winning the Big 12, which is higher than both Texas who beat them and West Virginia who is undefeated and hosts Oklahoma in the season finale. Despite losing by a field goal at the whistle to Texas on a neutral site, the metrics believe Oklahoma is still the best in the conference. If the SEC gets two teams in the playoff again, which is a possibility, the Big 12 will likely be one of the Power 5 conferences left out.
3. Washington (5-1)
- Loss: Auburn (neutral site)
- Notable remaining games: at Oregon, vs. Colorado, vs. Stanford, at Washington State
- Odds to win out: 19.7 percent
- Make the Playoff: 12 percent
Chris Petersen’s team represents the best hope for the Pac-12 to get back to the Playoff. After losing to Auburn in the season opener, many were prepared to write the obituary for the Huskies. I’m not ready to bury them six feet under, but I’m also not ready to say they’ll win out and have other teams in front of them lose to sneak in.