Only 10 schools still have a legit shot to make the College Football Playoff

LSUDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

  • The College Football Playoff is rapidly approaching, and while we don't quite have a handle on who will make the four-team slate, the field of potential contenders is dwindling.
  • The committee is set to release its third College Football Playoff rankings of the season Tuesday night, and major losses from the undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers and Baylor Bears may have further narrowed down the field.
  • As of now, LSU, Clemson, and Ohio State appear to have a solid hold on playoff spots, but a handful of strong one-loss squads are still very much alive and vying for a bid.
  • Check out where the last 10 contenders stand heading into Week 13 of the season.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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10. Minnesota Golden Gophers

10. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Record (AP rank): 9-1 (11)

Last week's result: Lost to Iowa 19-23

Last week's playoff rank: 8

Key games remaining: Wisconsin at home, Big Ten title game

The outlook: Fresh off of a 31-26 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Golden Gophers marched into Kinnick Stadium and walked out with their first loss of the season. A blemished record certainly hinders Minnesota's chances of breaking into the playoff, but a win against the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers and a Big Ten championship win — likely over Ohio State — could be enough to seal the deal.

9. Penn State Nittany Lions

9. Penn State Nittany Lions

Record (AP rank): 9-1 (9)

Last week's result: Beat Indiana 34-27

Last week's playoff rank: 9

Key games remaining: Ohio State on the road, Big Ten title game

The outlook: The Nittany Lions took a major hit when they lost to the then-undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers two weeks ago, but they still have a chance to snag a spot in the playoff. Penn State's only compelling claim would involve running the table — including taking down the Ohio State Buckeye juggernaut at the Horseshoe this weekend — and exacting revenge against Minnesota in the Big Ten championship game. Even then, the best of the Pac-12 and Big 12 may have better cases for the final spot.

8. Alabama Crimson Tide

8. Alabama Crimson Tide

Record (AP rank): 9-1 (5)

Last week's result: 38-7

Last week's playoff rank: 5

Key games remaining: Auburn on the road, SEC title game

The outlook: A College Football Playoff without Alabama is impossible to imagine simply because it is unprecedented; the Crimson Tide have competed in every College Football Playoff since its inaugural year in 2015. Though Alabama still has a shot, the loss of star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa due to injury doesn't help the cause. LSU more than likely needs to win out for the Crimson Tide to have a shot at the fourth spot, but even so, former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts and his Oklahoma Sooners or a one-loss Pac-12 champion may have a stronger case to earn the final ticket.

7. Utah Utes

7. Utah Utes

Record (AP rank): 9-1 (7)

Last week's result: Beat UCLA 49-3

Last week's playoff rank: 7

Key games remaining: Pac-12 title game

The outlook: An early-season loss to a mediocre USC squad significantly hinders Utah's chances of making the playoff, but the Utes still have a solid chance of breaking through. Not only will they have to win out — likely facing the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 championship game — but they'll also have to hope that whichever team sits atop the Big 12 has a more significant blemish on its resume.

6. Oklahoma Sooners

6. Oklahoma Sooners

Record (AP rank): 9-1 (8)

Last week's result: Beat Baylor 34-31

Last week's playoff rank: 10

Key games remaining: Oklahoma State on the road, Big 12 title game

The outlook: With a nasty loss to Kansas State already staining its resume, Oklahoma can't afford to slip up. Taking down the previously undefeated Baylor Bears this week certainly helped pad its resume, but Oklahoma still has to win out from there to bolster its claim for a playoff spot.

5. Oregon Ducks

5. Oregon Ducks

Record (AP rank): 9-1 (6)

Last week's result: Beat Arizona 34-6

Last week's playoff rank: 6

Key games remaining: Pac-12 title game

The outlook: A first-week loss to Auburn may be enough to keep the Ducks out of playoff contention, but they still have a decent shot at making it in. If we assume three spots will be allocated to the SEC champion, Big Ten champion, and an undefeated Clemson, the fourth spot will be a toss-up between one of the remaining SEC powerhouses, the Big 12 champion, or the Pac-12 champion. A few decisions need to fall in Oregon's favor, but a Pac-12 championship — likely over the one-loss Utah Utes — will give them a substantial claim to a College Football Playoff bid.

4. Georgia Bulldogs

4. Georgia Bulldogs

Record (AP rank): 9-1 (4)

Last week's result: Beat Auburn 21-14

Last week's playoff rank: 4

Key games remaining: Texas A&M at home, SEC title game

The outlook: A mid-October loss at home to the unranked South Carolina Gamecocks may keep Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs from making the College Football Playoff, but Saturday's win against an impressive Auburn squad certainly didn't hurt their chances. If LSU wins out, Alabama may have a stronger case for a second SEC spot than Georgia does. Essentially, the Bulldogs need to win the SEC championship game to punch their ticket for the first time since 2018.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Record (AP rank): 10-0 (2)

Last week's result: Beat Rutgers 56-21

Last week's playoff rank: 2

Key games remaining: Penn State at home, Michigan on the road, Big Ten title game

The outlook: The perfect Buckeyes walloped Rutgers 56-21 this week, but surviving the one-loss Nittany Lions and rival Wolverines in back-to-back contests may prove challenging. Luckily for Ohio State faithful, the team will return star defensive end Chase Young from a two-game suspension just in time for the gauntlet.

2. Clemson Tigers

2. Clemson Tigers

Record (AP rank): 11-0 (3)

Last week's result: Beat Wake Forest 52-3

Last week's playoff rank: 3

Key games remaining: South Carolina on the road, ACC title game

The outlook: Trevor Lawrence's Tigers haven't lost, and given the dismal state of ACC football outside of South Carolina, it doesn't appear as though they will. Clemson's biggest test left will come against in-state rival South Carolina on the Gamecock's home turf. Still, barring a disaster, it looks like the Tigers are a lock for their fifth consecutive College Football Playoff appearance.

1. LSU Tigers

1. LSU Tigers

Record (AP rank): 10-0 (1)

Last week's result: Beat Ole Miss 58-37

Last week's playoff rank: 1

Key games remaining: Texas A&M at home, SEC title game

The outlook: The Tigers have been rolling all season despite a ridiculously challenging schedule that has included some of the top-ranked teams in the College Football Playoff rankings. Last week's win over Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide on their home turf set LSU firmly ahead of the pack and this week's romp of Ole Miss helped further bolster its bid for a spot in the playoff.

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