Skip to main content

College Football Playoff: CBS Sports outlines path for all eight contenders into the CFP field

On3-Social-Profile_GRAYby:On3 Staff Report11/29/23
Andy Staples Week 14 Resume Rankings | 11.26.23

The second-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings debuted on Tuesday night, laying out the path for several teams sizing up a playoff bid, though perhaps not very clearly.

In an attempt to clear up the confusion on the myriad scenarios out there, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm put together a piece breaking down the easiest path for each team to get in.

On3 has broken it down and simplified things for your perusal. Take a look below.

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia’s easiest path to a College Football Playoff berth is quite simple. Beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and the ‘Dawgs all but certainly lock up the top seed in this year’s playoff. Things could get dicey with a loss in Atlanta, though.

With a loss to Alabama, Georgia could still get in as a one-loss team, but it would probably need help. Palm sees that help needing to be in the form of an Oregon win over Washington, an Oklahoma State win over Texas and a Louisville win over Florida State. That could leave the door open for Georgia to get into the playoff as the No. 4 seed.

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan Wolverines football Jim Harbaugh J.J. McCarthy
(Photo by Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Michigan is also in a pretty simple position of “win and you’re in” right now, needing only a victory over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game to advance. It’s hard to envision a realistic scenario where the Wolverines lose the Big Ten title game and advance, but Palm contends there is one.

So what would it need to look like if Michigan loses? First, the loss probably has to be highly competitive. Then some combination of Alabama, Oregon and either Florida State or Texas losing must occur for Michigan to sneak in as the No. 4 seed.

Washington Huskies

Washington WR Rome Odunze
(Joe Nicholson | USA TODAY Sports)

The easy path for Washington is to beat Oregon and advance to the College Football Playoff as an unbeaten team. Of course, the Ducks enter the Pac-12 Championship Game as a nearly double-digit favorite, so that’s easier said than done.

Is there a scenario where Washington sneaks in even with a loss? Palm believes so, but it would likely require Alabama, Florida State and Texas losses so that Washington could sneak in over an 11-1 Ohio State team as the final playoff team.

Florida State Seminoles

(USAToday Sports Photos)

There aren’t as many scenarios for the Seminoles, who pretty much have to win to make it into the College Football Playoff field at this point. Given the injury to Jordan Travis, faith in Florida State is already a bit low. Couple that with a loss and there’s virtually no chance a 12-1 Florida State team gets in.

There’s even a remote possibility that Florida State could win and miss the playoff, should enough other teams put together impressive games to challenge the overall resume. Still, it’s probably a safer bet than not that Florida State is in with a win.

Oregon Ducks

Bo Nix
© Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

Oregon can’t stomach a second loss and make the playoffs, so the outlook here is pretty simple. Oregon must win to have a shot at the College Football Playoff. But even that won’t necessarily be a guarantee.

Sitting at No. 5 currently, Oregon could theoretically just swap places with Washington with a win in the Pac-12 title game. But that presumes Alabama and Texas don’t turn in very impressive results and threaten to leapfrog the Ducks. An impressive Oregon win over Washington would go a long way toward cementing a spot.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State has finished its season with one loss and will watch conference championship weekend from the sidelines. The Buckeyes will need some help if they’re going to get into the College Football Playoffs.

The easiest path is for Georgia to beat Alabama, Washington to beat Oregon and Florida State and Texas to lose. That would keep Ohio State above Alabama and Texas, while allowing it to jump Florida State. That would get the Buckeyes in as the four-seed.

Texas Longhorns

Quinn Ewers
Quinn Ewers (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

Texas can’t afford to lose in the Big 12 Championship Game, and the more convincing the win is the better the case the Longhorns will have to make the playoff field. Texas has to find a way past a few of the teams currently in front of it.

The Longhorns do have the advantage of a head-to-head win over Alabama, which could keep it ranked ahead even in the event the Crimson Tide upset Georgia. Palm thinks Texas jumps Ohio State and the loser of the Pac-12 title game with a win, then needs Georgia, Michigan or Florida State to lose to get in.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

There aren’t a whole lot of scenarios out there for Alabama, given the Crimson Tide need to jump four spots to get into playoff range. That’s a big leap. Still, it’s not out of the realm of possibility with a game against No. 1 Georgia on tap.

Palm argues an Alabama win would move it past Georgia, the Pac-12 loser and Ohio State. From there, a loss by Texas, Florida State or Michigan would do the trick of getting the Crimson Tide into the playoff.