Defending champ Clemson atop CFP rankings, followed by Auburn, Oklahoma, Wisconsin

Auburn Football

Kirk Herbstreit explains how Alabama can still make the Playoff

The system would rank Wisconsin and Clemson as No. 1 and No. 2 with Auburn, Georgia, and Alabama on the outside looking in. The fifth- and sixth-ranked teams are Alabama and Georgia, respectively. Following a 24-10 win over the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs stayed at No. 1 and then lost 40-17 to Auburn. Alabama, as expected, fell after getting knocked off by rival Auburn 26-14.

Each of the top four teams plays a conference title game this Saturday against another highly ranked team, creating potential play-in playoff games. No. 3 Oklahoma will need to prevail over No. 11 TCU in the return of the Big 12 title game to get in, while No. 4 Wisconsin will face off with No. 8 Ohio State in the Big Ten title game as the Buckeyes hope to do enough to potentially sneak into the field. Then comes the Big Ten Championship Game, where Ohio State can bolster its uneven resume by handing No. 4 Wisconsin its first loss.

Both Clemson or Miami would make the final four as a one-loss ACC champ. It has three wins over ranked teams, and could lose one this week if SC drops out, but might gain one if Louisville (8-4) enters.

Does the committee hate UCF, the American Athletic Conference and Group of Five teams in general? The victor will get the Group of Five's guaranteed spot in a New Year's Six bowl game, but those teams are not even an afterthought in the playoff conversation. Whether Clemson or Miami, a one-loss ACC champion is also practically a lock for a playoff spot nearly any season.

The Playoff was instituted in 2014 and has yet to feature two teams from the same conference in a single Playoff. With conference title hardware on its side this year, Ohio State would be able to make a strong case. The committee can not pass over a team ranked, let's say, 11th to take a team ranked 13th because the 13th-ranked team is a more appealing draw with a bigger fanbase. As much as it may pain Tide fans, it will be better for the Tide if Auburn is not one of those teams.

With No. 9 Penn State and No. 11 TCU the highest-ranked teams remaining, they would head to the Cotton Bowl Classic. Ohio State would own a conference championship, but Oklahoma decisively beat the Buckeyes in Columbus on September 9.

Auburn, which lost to Clemson on September 9, slid up to No. 2 after knocking off the Crimson Tide.

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Clemson: Win and you're in 2.

Auburn and Georgia will collide in the SEC Championship Game, the first to be played in the new Mercedes-Benz Dome in Atlanta.

If Oklahoma wins, it's in.

No. 11 Southern California (minus 4) vs.

Clemson would go to New Orleans because, as the No. 1 team, it would get the most favorable geographic position.

"They've won 11 games".

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.

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