February 25, 2024

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College Football Playoff Prediction: The 16 Possible Scenarios

College Football Playoff Prediction: The 16 Possible Scenarios

Heading into championship weekend, eight teams — Georgia, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Florida State, Texas, Alabama and Ohio State (barely) — could still make it to the College Football Playoff. This is the highest level recorded in the 10-year CFP era.

Only three times have there been seven, in 2015, 2017 and 2019, but even in those times, one or more teams have needed to pull off an unexpected upset in the conference championship. What stands out about this year’s field is that the seven teams playing this weekend are all reasonable picks to win their respective title games. It won’t take much to unleash chaos.

Including what was arguably the toughest decision the committee has ever faced: Alabama’s win over Georgia, dropping the No. 4 seed to a 13-0 Florida State team without its star quarterback or the 12-1 two-time defending national champion.

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Even ignoring the possibility of Iowa not upsetting Michigan (you can throw that at me if the Hawkeyes go 3-2), there are 16 possible combinations of outcomes that include ACC (Florida State-Louisville), Big 12 (Texas State-Oklahoma). , PAC-12 (Washington-Oregon), and SEC (Georgia-Alabama). Below, I predict how the committee will rank the top five teams after each set of results.

For these purposes, I expect the committee on Tuesday to drop Ohio State from second to fifth after its 30-24 loss on the road to Michigan, behind the four unbeaten teams but top of the one-loss teams, but knowing which one Oregon State will pass Or Texas or Alabama over the Buckeyes if they win this weekend.

Georgia is looking to complete its first three-peat in college football since Minnesota did it from 1934-36. (Mark J. Rebelas / USA Today)

Scenario 1: Georgia, Washington, FSU, and Texas win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Washington (13-0)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Texas (12-1)

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Obviously, this is pretty straightforward.

Scenario 2: Georgia, Washington, USF, and Oklahoma win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Washington (13-0)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Ohio State (11-1)

I take it back: this is more clear.

Scenario 3: Georgia, Washington, Louisville, and Texas win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Washington (13-0)
4. Texas (12-1)

5. Ohio State (11-1)

As a 12-1 conference champion, Texas gets the nod from Ohio State.

Fourth scenario: Georgia, Washington, Louisville, and Oklahoma win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Washington (13-0)
4. Ohio State (11-1)

5. Florida (12-1)

This is the only one of the 16 scenarios I created in Ohio that requires a perfect storm. The Buckeyes need both the ACC and Big 12 to knock themselves out, opening the door for the conference to pick up two spots. Which means they also need to lose to Oregon.

Scenario 5: Georgia, Oregon, FSU, and Texas win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Texas (12-1)

The committee has consistently placed one-loss Oregon above one-loss Texas despite the Horns having a better resume. So there’s no reason to believe that changes if the Ducks beat an opponent 12-0 in their last game. I even got them through the FFA undefeated.

Scenario 6: Georgia, Oregon, FSU, and Oklahoma State win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Washington (12-1)

It’s possible the committee might consider keeping the Huskies in the top four since they likely have four wins among the Top 25 (Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State, and Utah). But I think they’re leaving a 13-0 team when I see it.

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Scenario Seven: Georgia, Oregon, Louisville, and Texas win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Texas (12-1)

5. Washington (12-1)

Another tough decision at No. 4, especially since Texas would have to move up three spots, but the Horns would be conference champions and the Huskies wouldn’t be.

Scenario Eight: Georgia, Oregon, Louisville, and Oklahoma win.

1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Washington (12-1)

5. Ohio State (11-1)

This is the only scenario where I could see the Pac-12 fielding two teams. Washington’s resume will be better than Ohio State’s.

Scenario Nine: Alabama, Washington, Florida State, and Texas win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Washington (13-0)
3. Alabama (12-1)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Georgia (12-1)

Every scenario from here involves Alabama beating Georgia, and they’re all messy. But in none of them was the undefeated Soviet Union excluded. Alabama moving all the way to third place would also make its outright loss to Texas moot.

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Scenario 10: Alabama, Washington, Florida State, and Oklahoma win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Washington (13-0)
3. Alabama (12-1)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Georgia (12-1)

same.

Scenario 11: Alabama, Washington, Louisville, and Texas win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Washington (13-0)
3. Alabama (12-1)
4. Texas (12-1)

5. Georgia (12-1)

Texas vs. Georgia is going to be a crazy debate, but once again I’m picking the conference champion. Especially since Texas won at Alabama.

Scenario 12: Alabama, Washington, Louisville, and Oklahoma win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Washington (13-0)
3. Alabama (12-1)
4. Georgia (12-1)

5. Ohio State (11-1)

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Georgia’s case over Ohio is not an open-and-shut case.

Scenario 13: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Texas win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Alabama (12-1)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Georgia (12-1)

Now, one-loss Alabama and one-loss Oregon both enter the picture. Georgia may claim to be better than Oregon State, but Georgia wasn’t going to beat a 12-0 team.

Scenario 14: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Oklahoma win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Alabama (12-1)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Florida (13-0)

5. Georgia (12-1)

The same debate between the Soviet Union and Georgia. Same result.

Scenario 15: Alabama, Oregon, Louisville, and Texas win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Alabama (12-1)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Texas (12-1)

5. Georgia (12-1)

Same as Scenario 11, only with a different Pac-12 team.

Scenario 16: Alabama, Oregon, Louisville, and Oklahoma win.

1. Michigan (13-0)
2. Alabama (12-1)
3. Oregon (12-1)
4. Georgia (12-1)

5. Ohio State (11-1)

Basically, if Georgia loses on Saturday afternoon, you better root for Louisville that night.

Finally, here’s how many times each team enters:

• Michigan: 16
• Georgia: 10
• Washington: 9
• Oregon: 8
• Alabama: 8
• Federal Football Association: 8
• Texas: 4
• Ohio State: 1

(Top image: Jimmy Schwabero/Getty Images)