We are down to the final Saturday of the 2020 college football season with conference championship games and some postponed games remaining for the teams in contention to earn one of four bids for the College Football Playoff. As such, the playoff picture is becoming much clearer.
The number of teams with a path this year seems smaller than usual, but it's not. What's smaller are the chances for some of the teams a bit further out of the field to pop in. There are only seven teams with any chance whatsoever of earning that key selection on Sunday, Dec. 20, and they will be fighting for two spots because the other two are already set in stone.
Without further ado, here is a ranking of the remaining CFP contenders in order of how likely they are to find their way into the four-team field along with an explanation of what each team needs to accomplish to get in. These are being updated as games are completed Saturday.
|Clinched. The No. 1 Crimson Tide will be either the SEC champions and top seed or the SEC runner up and seeded either first or second. There is no scenario where Alabama drops out entirely, even an unexpected blowout loss to Florida.|
|Clinched. Even a loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game will not keep the No. 2 Fighting Irish out now that the Gators enter the SEC Championship Game with two losses. Notre Dame could be seeded fourth, but it is difficult to imagine the Irish being eliminated.|
|Win the ACC Championship Game and avenge the regular-season loss to Notre Dame. That puts the No. 3 Tigers in, most likely as the second seed. A second loss could knock them out in favor of a one-loss Texas A&M or a two-loss SEC champion Florida, but that is not a certainty.|
|No. 4 Ohio State beat No. 14 Northwestern 22-10 in the Big Ten Championship Game, almost assuring the Buckeyes will get into the CFP despite only playing six games. It is difficult to come up with a scenario that leaves out an undefeated Ohio State now that Florida has lost twice, even if the Gators upset Alabama for the SEC title.|
|Texas A&M beat Tennessee 34-13 in its postponed game. Now it hope for the best from the CFP Selection Committee. No. 5 Texas A&M needs Clemson and Florida to lose now that Ohio State has won in order to backdoor its way into the CFP.|
|The path for the No. 7 Gators begins with a simple task: Beat the Tide. However, the loss to LSU means that is no longer enough on its own to get them in the field. Florida also needs a loss from Clemson now that Ohio State and Texas A&M have won. Jumping the Aggies with just the win over the Alabama is possible for Florida if there are not two ACC teams in.|
In addition to this list of playoff contenders, I have released my penultimate bowl projections for the 2020-21 season. Reminder: These projections are not how things stand now but rather how I expect them to look following the conference championship games Saturday.