Here’s where final 7 contenders rank in College Football Playoff hierarchy (all possible outcomes)

Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia, TCU remain undefeated

Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) runs the ball against Illinois in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Another chaotic weekend of college football knocked two more teams from playoff contention, while Michigan and six others kept their national championship hopes alive.

Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia, and TCU all stayed undefeated. North Carolina and Tennessee suffered their second losses and dropped from consideration.

When the dust settled, here were the teams left fighting for the four playoff spots:

  • ACC: Clemson
  • Big 12: TCU
  • Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State
  • Pac-12: USC
  • SEC: Georgia, LSU

It’s rivalry week, and the playoff picture will come into full focus the next two Saturdays. Here’s the updated hierarchy list.

How this works

NOTE: If you’ve read the breakdowns from the last four weeks (available here and here and here and here), you can skip this section. It’s just a refresher on how this works for the newcomers.

Here’s how you read this list: Start from the top item and work your way down. If a team finishes the season with one of the listed outcomes, then that team will earn the top unclaimed playoff spot. If no team meets the specific qualification for that outcome, skip it and move to the next.

Continue in that manner until you’ve filled all four spots.

For example: No. 1 in this hierarchy is “undefeated SEC champion.” In other words, if any team finishes this season as an undefeated SEC champ, that team will occupy the No. 1 spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

The No. 2 item on this list is “undefeated Big Ten champion.” If there’s an undefeated Big Ten champ at the end of the year, that team will be the No. 2 overall seed IF there is also an undefeated SEC champ. If there isn’t an undefeated SEC champ, then that undefeated Big Ten team assumes the No. 1 overall spot.

If there isn’t a 13-0 Big Ten team, then you move onto item No. 3 on the list, and so on.

The top four outcomes on the list that actually happen will determine the four teams that make the playoff.

So if “11-1 Michigan” is 12th on the list, in order to make the playoff, it would need three or fewer of the top 11 possible outcomes to actually happen.

1. Undefeated SEC champion

Possible teams: Georgia

It doesn’t matter whether Georgia is dominant or not the rest of the way. As long as the Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech and LSU the next two weeks, they will be the undisputed No. 1 seed in the playoff.

2. Undefeated Big Ten champion

Possible teams: Michigan, Ohio State

Everyone has been waiting for the Michigan vs. Ohio State matchup, and both teams did their part to remain undefeated going into The Game.

The winner won’t have any anxiety when it comes to playoff selection, but the loser will most likely find itself on the outside looking in.

3. One-loss SEC champion

Possible teams: Georgia

This is in here as a courtesy. There’s almost no way Georgia is going to lose to Georgia Tech this weekend.

4. Undefeated Big 12 champion

Possible teams: TCU

It feels like TCU is pretty much a lock for the playoff, especially after Tennessee’s shocking loss.

The Horned Frogs host last-place Iowa State this weekend with a chance to finish the regular season 12-0. Then, a likely rematch with Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game looms.

5. One-loss loser of SEC title game

Possible teams: Georgia

Much more likely than Georgia losing this weekend to Georgia Tech is that the 12-0 Bulldogs go into the SEC title game and lose to a desperate and much-improved LSU squad.

Even though Georgia will be a heavy favorite, LSU has already taken down Alabama and Ole Miss, so this isn’t a game that can be taken lightly. In the end, the only affect on Georgia would be a lower seed (that didn’t work out so badly last year).

6. One-loss loser of Big Ten title game

Possible teams: Michigan, Ohio State

Thanks to the Tennessee loss, I think the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game is a lock to make the playoff, even with a loss in the conference championship game.

A loss to Iowa or Purdue in Indianapolis would probably drop Michigan or Ohio State to the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the playoff, but their 12-1 resumes would still be stronger than that of a 12-1 USC or Clemson.

7. SEC champion LSU

For the first time in these rankings, I’ve moved a theoretical 11-2 LSU above a theoretical 12-1 Clemson, USC, and TCU.

LSU is already ranked ahead of Clemson and USC, and I doubt that’s going to change as long as LSU beats Texas A&M this weekend. Then, if LSU beats No. 1 Georgia, how could the committee justify moving Clemson or USC ahead?

North Carolina’s loss to Georgia Tech took most of the shine out of the ACC Championship Game, and Clemson needed that to be a big resume boost.

TCU, on the other hand, would drop below LSU with a loss to Iowa State. A win over a three- or four-loss team in the Big 12 title wouldn’t be enough to propel TCU over an LSU team that beats 12-0 Georgia.

8. One-loss Pac-12 champion

Possible teams: USC

Even though the Pac-12 took two critical blows when Oregon and UCLA lost last week, the conference is still in prime position to earn a playoff spot as long as USC continues to win.

The Trojans are ranked behind LSU in the CFP poll, but if Georgia wins the SEC title, that situation will take care of itself. If USC can take down Notre Dame and whoever else ends up in the Pac-12 Championship Game, it should find itself safely in the top four.

9. One-loss Big 12 champion

Possible teams: TCU

Iowa State has only one win since mid-September, so it would be a shock to see the Cyclones go into Fort Worth and upset TCU.

But if that did happen, as long as TCU rebounded in the Big 12 Championship Game, it would be in strong position for the playoff.

10. One-loss ACC champion

Possible teams: Clemson

Clemson is still very much alive in the playoff race. As long as Georgia beats LSU, the Tigers just need one slip-up from USC to join Georgia, the Big Ten champ, and TCU in the final four.

11. One-loss loser of Big 12 title game

Possible teams: TCU

The timing of losses matters, and if TCU ends the season on a loss while Clemson and USC finish off 12-1 seasons with conference titles, the Horned Frogs will find themselves on the outside looking in.

12. Michigan or Ohio State finish 11-1

If LSU loses to Georgia and both Clemson and USC lose one of their final two games, then the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State game will have a chance to get in, as long as The Game is competitive.

Otherwise, expect any 12-1 conference champ to get priority over a second Big Ten team. And as you can see above, I believe TCU has to lose the next two weeks to fall below both Michigan and Ohio State.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.