Photo courtesy of Joshua L. Jones | USA TODAY NETWORK
Just three weeks remain in the 2022 college football season and last Saturday saw a massive swing in how the four-team bracket will shape as Tennessee, Alabama and Clemson all went down. Before the official one comes out Tuesday night, here’s how all of us at Elevated Media feel the playoff should shake out at this point.
The Playoff Teams
(4) TCU vs. (1) Georgia
(3) Michigan vs. (2) Ohio State
These are the last four undefeated teams remaining in the FBS. TCU and Georgia have a path to undefeated and uncontested berths to the playoff. However, Michigan and Ohio State will play in their heated rivalry game on Nov. 26 which essentially becomes a de facto playoff game like last year. If both have a hard-fought game like last year, the opportunity is open for both to sneak in. However, there are hungry one-loss teams behind all four unbeatens waiting to pounce.
NEXT IN LINE:
No. 5 Tennessee (8-1)
No. 6 LSU (7-2)
No. 7 Oregon (8-1)
These three are all next in line to jump the unbeatens in the top four. The Volunteers‘ loss to Georgia is disheartening for the program as they will need Georgia to lose twice to even have a shot at playing for the SEC Championship. So what does Tennessee need to do? They need to blow out the competition in their last three games. Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. None of those three opponents are sexy resume builders for the Vols so they need to take matters into their own hands and force the committee’s hand.
LSU has a better path than the Vols. They control their own destiny in the SEC West with just one conference loss at the hands of Tennessee and own the tiebreaker with wins over Ole Miss and Alabama. The Tigers have a favorable schedule left with trips to Arkansas and Texas A&M and Senior Night against UAB. Their playoff hopes will then hinge on a potential stunner over Georgia in the conference title game.
Who would’ve expected Oregon to get right back in the hunt after their embarrassing loss to Georgia to start the season? With the Bulldogs manhandling Tennessee, that loss looks better and better for the Ducks and they are passing the eye test week in and week out as they continue to tally 40+ points in every game this season after the Georgia game. Oregon will have a gauntlet to run through though if they want to keep their playoff hopes afloat. They have rivals Washington and Oregon State left on top of hosting Utah, followed by the Pac-12 title game that could see them play one of USC or UCLA (again).
Work to do:
No. 8 USC (8-1)
No. 9 Ole Miss (8-1)
No. 10 UCLA (8-1)
All three of these teams have played poorly during a stretch of the season, despite their record. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone in the CFP committee that could make a case for any of these three teams. However, no one can deny the path any of these three could have to a conference title and USC still has UCLA and Notre Dame (who just blew out Clemson) left on their schedule to significantly boost their resume. Ole Miss still has Alabama while UCLA has to impressively beat the Trojans with just Arizona and California left to play outside of their crosstown rival.
Alabama (7-2) – Needed to beat LSU
Clemson (8-1) – Bad loss to Notre Dame, ACC wins aren’t good enough
Utah (7-2) – Bad loss to Florida
North Carolina (8-1) – No resume win, Clemson loss hurts
Penn State (7-2)
Kansas State (6-3)
NC State (7-2)
Florida State (6-3)
Coastal Carolina (8-1)
Notre Dame (6-3)