With each week, the field of teams worthy of the College Football Playoff is narrowing. Last week, Oregon was culled from the herd thanks to its inexplicable loss to conference "rival" Arizona State. The week before, Minnesota lost its playoff case after losing to Iowa in the Floyd of Rosedale game.
Only three undefeated teams remain --Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson -- and barring any freak slip-ups, they all look like locks to reach the final four. The fourth and final spot is still up for grabs. Georgia holds it for the time being, though whether they truly deserve it is up for debate after squeaking by Texas A&M by six points despite being outgained 273-260 in total offense.
What follows is out look at the teams sitting outside the current top four with a shot at clinching the final spot.
While Georgia was hacking away at a conference opponent, fifth-ranked Alabama spent its Saturday devouring Southern Conference cupcake Western Carolina 66-3. Even without the injured Tua Tagovailoa at the helm, the Tide's offense didn't miss a beat, as Mac Jones looked cool and natural in the pocket -- though given the nature of his opponent, that was to be expected.
Alabama has to travel to the hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Iron Bowl this week, which won't be an easy win. Nick Saban has said as much -- he called Auburn the “best team we’ve played, probably, so far.”
After Oregon's stunning loss, No. 6 Utah is the Pac-12's last and best hope to reach the playoff, and it may not be enough. Even winning their remaining two games -- the regular season finale against Colorado and the Pac-12 Championship against Oregon -- would not guarantee a trip to the dance if either Georgia or Alabama also handle their business. More significantly, the Utes' one loss came back in September to USC, which may handicap them if they lose their regular season finale to Colorado. A loss against the Buffaloes would give the Trojans the tiebreaker in the division and grant them the right to play in the Pac-12 title game.
The seventh-ranked Sooners didn't help their own case by just scraping by TCU 28-24, and even that came with a big assist from the officials. Even with Heisman-contending quarterback Jalen Hurts, it would take a perfect storm of circumstances for Oklahoma to reach the top four. That would include convincing wins over in-state rival Oklahoma State and Baylor, as well as losses by some of the leading [layoff teams in their respective conference championship games. That would throw the system into chaos which could help the Sooners emerge.