4. North Carolina State Wolfpack at North Carolina Tar Heels: Week 13
Even though LSU has two regular-season losses already, without question, the biggest long shot with any semi-serious aspirations to make the playoff are the North Carolina Tar Heels. They may not be a top-10 team right this instant, but the Heels are 9-1 and have yet to lose a game in ACC play. While they should beat Georgia Tech, the game to keep an eye on is vs. North Carolina State.
This is a big in-state rivalry game between two state schools. Although the Wolfpack are out of it, Dave Doeren has a good program over in Raleigh. Should UNC beat Georgia Tech and NC State in succession, that gets the ACC Coastal Champions to 11-1 (8-0) on the season. If the Tar Heels were to beat ACC Atlantic Champion Clemson in a clash of one-loss teams, they will be getting in.
If UNC were to have beaten NC State and Clemson in back-to-back weeks, they will have earned it.
3. Iowa State Cyclones at TCU Horned Frogs: Week 13
This is by far the most sneaky and dangerous game left to be had this college football season. As long as TCU keeps winning, the Horned Frogs will make it into the playoff. However, there is some debate as to if they can afford a loss and still get in. A title bout defeat probably does them in, while a road loss to traditional rival Baylor may not. As for the Iowa State game, they gotta have it!
While TCU’s Big 12 Championship Game opponent has not been decided, Baylor is one of a few teams still in the running for it. In theory, TCU could avenge its loss to Baylor in Arlington and still get in. As for Iowa State, the Cyclones are a bottom-tier team in the Big 12 this season. They have a great head coach in Matt Campbell and have built a program around winning low-scoring games.
The last time TCU had to beat Iowa State to get in, the Frogs won, but then fell from No. 3 to No. 6.