Clemson leads college playoff pack, but Alabama is lurking

Courtesy College Football Playoff

The Badgers opened at No. 9, moved up to No. 8 in Week 2, moved up to No. 5 in Week 3, stayed at No. 5 in Week 4 and moved up this week thanks to losses by then-No. The winners of those two games are virtually guaranteed to make up half of this year's playoff.

Most pundits envision, as a top four heading into this weekend's conference championships, Clemson (11-1), Oklahoma (11-1), Wisconsin (12-0) and Auburn (10-2).

UW faces No. 8 Ohio State (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) at 7:17 p.m. Saturday in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. The reigning champs are followed by Auburn, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

"It is a heck of a challenge playing against a really good Ohio State football team and what we're playing for is the Big Ten championship". Head-to-head results and conference championships come into play when resumes are relatively even, and, in that case, resumes would be relatively even. TCU would also be 11-2 with a split against the Sooners and a Big 12 championship.

The educated guess here is the committee would go with the Tide, not unlike its choice of the one-loss Buckeyes last season when Penn State beat Wisconsin for the Big Ten title. And this week, we have quite a lineup on the college football calendar with conference championship week upon us. Would that be enough to drop the defending national champions all the way out of the top four?

Ohio State is ranked eighth, Penn State is ninth and Southern California is 10th. Alabama is the only team in that group not playing in its conference championship game. A win by TCU may not have a similar outcome, however, and the Horned Frogs may be lined up for a spot in the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 champion to take on the Pac-12 champion. Ohio State would own a conference championship, but Oklahoma decisively beat the Buckeyes in Columbus on September 9.

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"They know that and they don't get caught up in: 'What if?'"

With No. 10 USC and No. 11 TCU staring up at the other contenders, they look like extreme long shots. Oklahoma has won seven straight and moved up to No. 3.

The only way Alabama could get in over Ohio State, because it's not going to on paper, is if the committee just said - the coaches in the room looked around and said, "I wouldn't want to play them". The goal for UCF is clear right now, because the victor of the AAC title game against Memphis will secure a New Year's Six bowl spot. That would set up a rematch of last year's Auburn-Oklahoma Sugar Bowl in a playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl. LSU (9-3), 18. Washington State (9-3), 19.

The Orange Bowl matches the top non-playoff team from the ACC against the top non-playoff team from the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame.

The next highest-ranked team available is No. 6 Georgia, which makes sense for the nearby Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

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