2021-22 NCAAF: Road to the College Football Playoff
Only a handful of teams have a real chance at qualifying for the four-team College Football Playoff. What will it take for each to march on?
We’re down to (arguably) six college football teams with legitimate national championship hopes. With one week left in the regular season, there’s not much for the teams to do but punch their tickets.
Here’s what each needs to be selected for this year’s College Football Playoff.
#1 Georgia Bulldogs (11-0): Win vs. Georgia Tech
Start to finish, the Georgia Bulldogs have been college football’s most impressive squad this season. The Dawgs score 40 points a game on average, while allowing seven. This insane difference already has Georgia in a playoff spot once it beats Georgia Tech this weekend to finish the season undefeated. Things would get very interesting if the Alabama Crimson Tide beat them in the SEC Championship game, but Georgia’s been such a clear #1 team, there’s a good chance they would go to the playoff anyway. The Bulldogs are all but a lock to make this year’s CFP.
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#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1): Beat Michigan & Win Big 10 Championship
After an absolute thrashing of #7 Michigan State Spartans a few days ago, the Ohio State Buckeyes surged up to #2 in most rankings. There’s no time for the Buckeyes to celebrate, though, as another Top 7 matchup is on the way. The upcoming Ohio State/Michigan Wolverines regular season finale serves as a Big 10 East division championship game, with the winner advancing to the Big 10 game and most likely the College Football Playoff as well. With back-to-back wins to finish the season, Ohio State will cement itself as a Top 2 team in the CFP.
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#3 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1): Win SEC Championship
The Crimson Tide will conclude their regular season with a relatively harmless matchup against the underwhelming Auburn Tigers. Assuming an easy win there, they’ll move onto a possible game-of-the-year candidate in the SEC Championship against Georgia. Alabama would then need the win more than the Bulldogs to advance to the playoffs, so this would essentially serve as a play-in game. It feels like the whole season has been leading up to this glorious matchup. As fans, let’s hope it happens.
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#4 Cincinnati Bearcats (11-0): Win American Conference Championship
The hard part for the Cincinnati Bearcats was breaking into the Top 4. After the Oregon Ducks’ collapse 7-38 against the Utah Utes, the Bearcats are a consensus Top 4 team and will qualify for the playoffs if they can win out. But this won’t come easily for the Bearcats. Their regular season finale is on the road against a solid East Carolina Pirates team, then the American Conference Championship game against the #19 Houston Cougars. If the Bearcats can finish 2-0 and make the CFP, they would be the first non-Power 5 conference team to do so besides Notre Dame. With something to prove, expect Cincy to win out.
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#5 ND Fighting Irish (10-1): Beat Stanford & Hope a Team Above Them (Other Than Ohio State) Loses
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have the stickiest situation of all these teams, because they’re independent and don’t have a Conference Championship game to add to their resume after the regular season. That means the final resume-booster will come at the Stanford Cardinal game this weekend. It’s not only a must-win for the Irish, but a must-blowout. Notre Dame has to win big, and a team above them in the rankings has to lose one of their final two games. If Ohio State loses in the Big 10 Championship game to Michigan, the Wolverines would most likely leapfrog Notre Dame to the #4 spot and qualify for the playoffs. So the Irish probably need two losses from these five remaining teams to safely enter the CFP.
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#6 Michigan Wolverines (10-1): Beat Ohio State & Win Big 10 Championship
Despite the lower ranking than Notre Dame, the Wolverines have a clearer path to the CFP. Their road is similar to that of their Big 10 rival and opponent for this weekend, Ohio State. The Wolverines need to beat the Buckeyes first, then top it off with another big win in the Big 10 Championship game. The road is a rocky one, but if Michigan can win out, they’ll likely find themselves with a shot at a national semifinal.
We’re down to (most likely) six! All that remains is the on-field action. Place those futures bets now, before the final two weeks, and enjoy the postseason.
2021-22 National Championship Odds*
*Odds subject to change