Week 6 College Football Playoff Eliminator: Which Teams Still Have a Shot At a National Championship?

Week 6 College Football Playoff Eliminator: Which Teams Still Have a Shot At a National Championship? article feature image

Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images. Pictured: The College Football Playoff trophy.

Welcome to the first week of Action Network’s College Football Playoff eliminator column. Each and every week, I will narrow down the 131 FBS teams that have a realistic path to the CFP.

Back in August, every eligible team had hopes and dreams (some more realistic than others) of being one of those four selected to play for it all. Well, we're now in Week 6, and that list has dwindled considerably.

To begin, here's the list of the 79 schools that have been eliminated in Weeks 1-5.

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Eliminated From College Football Playoff

With 79 teams eliminated, that leaves 52 teams that are still alive with a chance to make the playoff. Before we get into those teams, let’s go over a few ground rules that will be in place all year.

  • Any loss eliminates a Group of Five team immediately. In the history of the CFP, there has only been one Group of Five team to make the playoff — last year’s undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats. A one-loss Group of Five team is simply not making the playoff in the current format.
  • Independents are analyzed on a case-by-case basis. I have chosen to eliminate Notre Dame given its loss to Marshall. BYU hangs around for now despite one loss, given the schedule the Cougars play this year and the wins they could still rack up.
  • Auto-elimination for any Power Five team that loses a third game. To this point, there has never even been a two-loss team that made the playoff. There have been a few that have been close over the years, but there will certainly not be a three-loss team among the final four. Hence, why Wisconsin, West Virginia, Michigan State and others were all sent packing.
  • Any two-loss Power Five team that has been eliminated from conference championship contention will also be eliminated in this column. Given that we’ve never seen a two-loss team make it to this point, it’s safe to assume a two-loss team would need to win its respective conference to have any chance.
  • Lastly, I reserve the right to eliminate any team that simply does not have a realistic path to the playoff. I took it easy on a few teams this week, as you'll see below, but I can’t guarantee that will be the case moving forward.

Now, with 52 teams still remaining, there are obviously varying degrees of chances. I’ve sorted the final 52 into three tiers: Firmly in the Mix, Hanging in There and Would Need a Miracle. Let’s dive into it.

All "To Make Playoff" odds are as of Tuesday, Oct. 4 and via DraftKings.

Firmly in the Mix (14)

Each team in this tier has done its job through five weeks.

If history has told us anything, it’s that a Power Five team that wins all of its games will make the College Football Playoff. All 14 have done that to this point, and they sit in first class as a result.

Alabama Crimson Tide (-425)

The Tide remain unbeaten, and their nonconference win at Texas could be a nice bargaining chip down the road. We know what this team is capable of, and frankly, it would be a surprise for Alabama not to remain in this group all year.

Clemson Tigers (+120)

Dabo Swinney has the Tigers humming once again. Clemson has arguably already won its two most difficult games with victories at Wake Forest and against NC State.

Georgia Bulldogs (-450)

Not much needs to be said for the defending national champs. As good as any team in the country.

Kansas Jayhawks (+2200)

Why wouldn’t the Jayhawks be in this tier? What a story it has been in Lawrence to start the year. A College GameDay matchup against TCU awaits.

Michigan Wolverines (+400)

The Wolverines broke through into the playoff last year, and going back again is looking like a real possibility.

Ole Miss Rebels (+1400)

The Rebels got it done against Kentucky last week and have a great chance of getting to 7-0 before they hit the meat of the schedule.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-450)

The Buckeyes look as dominant as any team in the country, and the improvement under defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is starting to show on that side of the ball.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (+750)

The Pokes notched a big road victory over Baylor last week, and Mike Gundy once again has a team good enough to contend for the Big 12 Championship.

Penn State Nittany Lions (+1000)

Ohio State and Michigan are getting all of the talk in the Big Ten East, but don’t sleep on James Franklin’s bunch.

Syracuse Orange 

I would rank the Orange last of the remaining unbeaten teams, but Cuse has found a way to get it done to this point.

Tennessee Volunteers (+800)

Things are looking promising in Knoxville. The Vols will get a crack at both Alabama and Georgia later in the year.

TCU Horned Frogs (+1400)

The Frogs were really impressive in a thrashing of Oklahoma. Next up? A trip to undefeated Kansas.

UCLA Bruins (+1300)

The Bruins found a way to get it done Friday night against Washington. Now, let’s see if they can back it up against Utah.

USC Trojans (+320)

Lincoln Riley has had a smooth transition in Los Angeles thus far, but the schedule is about to get a lot more difficult.

Hanging in There (17)

Each team in this tier has suffered a loss of some variety. That said, there's still a clear pathway to the playoff — just less room for error the rest of the way.

Duke Blue Devils

Mike Elko has done a fantastic job in year one in Durham. More than just a basketball school.

Florida State Seminoles (+2500)

The Noles earned a huge win in the opener over LSU, but losing at home last week to Wake has stalled the momentum.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Bret Bielema has it rolling in Champaign. This team is as good as any in the Big Ten West.

Kansas State Wildcats

The Wildcats' home loss to Tulane may be the most puzzling loss of the season thus far. This is a really solid team that will likely be kicking itself all year for dropping that one.

Kentucky Wildcats

Mark Stoops puts out a tough and physical team year after year. Could this be the season BBN finally takes down Georgia?

LSU Tigers

Brian Kelly and company have quietly won four in a row. They have a massive game this week in Death Valley against the Vols.

Maryland Terrapins

The Terps are a nice story to begin the year. They also hung right in there with Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Gophers had a chance to be sitting alone atop the Big Ten West standings. Instead, they squandered one away at home to Purdue.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (+2200)

A really interesting team to monitor in the SEC West. Mike Leach flat-out wins wherever he goes.

North Carolina Tar Heels

If only Carolina could play defense. That said, the Heels could still be major players in the ACC Coastal Division with what Drake Maye is doing at quarterback.

NC State Wolfpack (+2200)

The Pack couldn’t get it done on the road at Clemson and now will have a really difficult time winning the Atlantic Division. They're still a very solid football team nonetheless.

Oregon Ducks (+1300)

The Ducks were trounced by Georgia to start the year but have had a heck of a rebound following that loss.

Texas Longhorns (+1800)

The only two-loss team in this tier. The Longhorns have the best loss in the country to this point, and their other loss came in overtime in Lubbock. Win out and win the Big 12, and Texas may be in the playoff conversation.

Utah Utes (+750)

The Utes are one play away from a win at the Swamp and being in a great position, but they still control their path in the Pac-12.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Sam Hartman is an absolute stud, and man, were the Deacs close to beating Clemson. They followed that up with a bounce-back win at Florida State.

Washington Huskies (+2200)

The Huskies defense struggled against UCLA, so this group is unbeaten no more.

Washington State Cougars

The win at Wisconsin may not age as well as Cougar fans may have hoped, but it's been a promising start to the year in Pullman.

Would Need a Miracle (21)

It’s hard to see a path to the playoff for any group listed below. Heck, you’re probably thinking why are the likes of Arizona and Indiana still on this page?

Well, it’s only early October, so there’s nothing wrong with a little patience. To have a chance, any team in this tier would need to be perfect the rest of the way, and then get a little help in other leagues.

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