With Saturday being the last day to cement a spot in the College Football Playoff field, or make a case for one, The Advocate takes a look at the rankings and what may happen when the CFP committee announces its final four at 11 a.m. Sunday:
(CFP rankings as of Dec. 3)
1. OHIO STATE (12-0)
Saturday: vs. Wisconsin, Big Ten championship
Ohio State is in — it's just a matter of where it winds up Sunday. OSU, which pulled away from Wisconsin in the second half for a comfortable 31-point victory back on Oct. 26, could nail down the top seed with another win. If the Buckeyes falter, they could leave the door open for LSU if it beats Georgia. Still, a loss wouldn't be doomsday for Ohio State, which has the goods with a strength of schedule and consistency of play on both sides of the ball that committee members liked when they moved the Buckeyes to the top on Nov. 19.
2. LSU (12-0)
Saturday: vs. Georgia, SEC championship
Like Ohio State, everything points to LSU getting one of the spots in the semifinals even if the Tigers were to slip up against Georgia. With four top-10 wins and one of the nation's most productive offenses and a defense that has shown its teeth most of the time, the résumé is unquestionably impeccable. So, they'll be in the top four no matter what transpires Saturday. While they could stay at No. 2 with a win and an Ohio State victory, the Tigers could also go back into the top spot because taking down Georgia would be their fifth top-10 win in 13 games.
3. Clemson (12-0)
Saturday: vs. Virginia, ACC championship
After pummeling a South Carolina team that won't be going to a bowl game, Dabo Swinney spent part of his postgame news conference lamenting the fact (again) that his team doesn't get enough respect. It wasn't necessary because all Clemson has to do to get in is beat an unranked Virginia team — a massive 28-point underdog — and nothing more. Yes, Clemson has a strong offense and a great defense, there's no argument there. But, of the Tigers' 12 wins, only two have come against teams that won more than seven games — 8-4 Wake Forest and 8-4 Wofford, an FCS team.
4. Georgia (11-1)
Saturday: vs. LSU, SEC championship
Here's where it starts to get difficult for the 13-person CFP committee. Then again, maybe not. It could make it very easy to have its final four set if Georgia defeats LSU and Ohio State and Clemson also win. LSU would likely tumble to No. 4, getting in the playoffs based on their strength of schedule and prolific offense, while Georgia would give the SEC a second team in. That means there will be a whole lot of LSU fans among three of the next four teams, the ones that will be hoping to see Georgia fall hard and open up a spot for another contender.
5. Utah (11-2)
Friday: vs. Oregon, Pac-12 championship
Utah lost to Oregon on Friday night and missed out on a chance to give the committee something to think about if Georgia, or even Clemson, lose Saturday. With a shot at cracking the top four, the Utes fell and guaranteed that the Pac-12 won't have a team in the playoffs for a third consecutive season. A win by LSU would open up a spot and the committee would have had to decide whether Utah or the Baylor-Oklahoma winner gets in. Now, it's a moot point as far as Utah, which lost to USC early on in the season and didn't beat a ranked team, is concerned.
6. Oklahoma (11-1)
Saturday: vs. Baylor, Big 12 championship
Oklahoma already had a better résumé than Utah, whose loss on Friday night eliminated a potential stumbling block for the CFP committee. With Utah out of the way, if LSU knocks off Georgia and Oklahoma defeats Baylor for a second time, it would open the door for the Sooners to move into playoff spot No. 4. With a win over Baylor, whom Oklahoma beat in overtime last month, the Sooners would have three wins over ranked foes (Baylor twice, Oklahoma State). There's also a slim possibility another spot could open if Clemson, a four-touchdown favorite over Virginia, were to somehow lose.
7. Baylor (11-1)
Saturday: vs. Oklahoma, Big 12 championship
With Utah falling on Friday night, Baylor still has a slim chance to make it. But at least three things would have to happen: Baylor would have to beat Oklahoma and Georgia would have to lose and wait for the committee to choose between them and possibly No. 8 Wisconsin — if the Badgers were to upset two-touchdown favorite Ohio State. Stranger things have happened (read: LSU in the old BCS format in 2007). Still, Baylor has to be kicking itself for blowing a 28-3 first-half lead against OU, or the Bears would have a very real chance of getting in as the fourth team.
8. Wisconsin (10-2)
Saturday: vs. Ohio State, Big Ten championship
Wisconsin probably has a better chance of winning the lottery than making the CFP playoff. But again, stranger things have happened. With two losses, the Badgers, first of all, need to beat Ohio State and have Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma lose to have even a glimmer of hope. They still might have a shot if they convincingly beat an Ohio State team that won by 31 in their first meeting. But, they would need LSU to win and have both Clemson and OU lose, then wait to see if the committee passes on one-loss Clemson — which may be unlikely considering Wisconsin also lost to unranked Illinois.