The College Football Playoff race is seemingly down to five teams thanks to one of the biggest upsets of the season leaving Florida all but out of the running after losing to LSU. (Those ramifications are below.)
For now, we are down to Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State and Texas A&M. (Florida and Northwestern have slight chances but not worth talking about at this point.)
Here are some conclusions for a season that will end six days before Christmas.
How to lose a New Year's Six berth: Nothing good for the SEC came of LSU's upset of Florida. If Alabama wins the SEC Championship Game, the Gators may be eliminated altogether from a New Year's Six bowl. Before Saturday, the SEC was looking at four such berths (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M). Even with a win Saturday, Florida (8-2) may not finish in the top four. No two-loss team has ever appeared in the playoff. Only one has won a championship in the BCS era (LSU in 2007).
If that happens, the SEC champion would not play for a national title for the first time since 2005. The LSU upset was the third-largest in the SEC since the FBS/FCS divisional split in 1978. Florida was a 23.5-point favorite.
Coach Dan Mullen did not handle it well. After losing to Texas A&M, he blamed the Kyle Field crowd. After blowing one to the Tigers, he backhanded … Ohio State? "We played 10 games," Mullen said. "The best thing to do is play less games because you seem to get rewarded for not playing this year in college football."
Alabama has all but clinched a playoff spot: In beating the snot out of Arkansas, the Crimson Tide are all but in. If it can avoid a blowout loss to the Gators, it's hard to envision Alabama dropping out of the top four.
Biggest winners: One week before the end of the regular season, Texas A&M and Ohio State still have playoff shots. The Aggies need wins by the Tide and Fighting Irish to have a shot. The Buckeyes benefitted, too. With Florida losing, there are less impediments to Ohio State getting in as an undefeated conference champion
Pac-12 again an afterthought? I just want to know where all this leaves No. 10 USC. If the Trojans beat Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game, they'll have the same record as Ohio State with just about the same schedule strength. Ah, but it's taken a decade for the Pac-12's reputation to sink thanks to commissioner Larry Scott's mismanagement. It has shown up in the CFP Rankings (USC is No. 15). That reputation isn't going to get better anytime soon.
|The Tide head to the SEC Championship Game as one of the most dominant Alabama teams in history. They're winning games by more than 30 points on average. They have three Heisman Trophy candidates in Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris, and now the defense has come around playing at a top 10 level. Arkansas didn't surpass 100 yards Saturday until the fourth quarter in a 52-3 loss.||--||13-0|
|In this unique season, the Irish will attempt to sweep Clemson and punch their ticket to the CFP. Even with a close loss, Notre Dame has a good chance. It already has the best win this season (over then-No. 1 Clemson). The individual honors are starting to roll in for the Irish, too.||--||10-2|
|Dabo Swinney made news last week taking a shot at Ohio State's game disparity. "I just think there has to be some kind of standard," he said. There are many that agree. Clemson can make it tough on Ohio State by getting revenge against Notre Dame. One thing to watch: Clemson has to get the running game going. Starting with the Notre Dame loss, the Tigers are barely averaging 130 yards and 3.96 yards on the ground.||--||10-2|
|Ohio State has lobbied to play football this season. Ohio State has lobbied to be eligible in the Big Ten Championship Game. Ohio State gets its way a lot. What it can't do is lobby to beat Northwestern. It will take a tough, physical effort to get past Northwestern. Yes, the Buckeyes have faster, better players, but there is a team on the other sideline next Saturday, too.||--||7-1|
|Waiting in the clubhouse for a possible playoff berth. The Aggies got a huge boost when LSU upset Florida. Even if Florida beats Bama in the SEC title game, there's still a doubt the Gators can get into the top four. The Aggies still face a significant challenge ahead this week at Tennessee. Whatever the outcome, there has been big progress at running back and defense. It will probably hurt the Aggies' case losing a data point last week against Ole Miss.||1||9-1|
|Elijah Moore, you're off the hook. Marco Wilson did the unforgiveable throwing an LSU player's shoe for a personal foul that set up the game-winning field goal for the Tigers. How many times have you seen a home team gain 600 yards and lose? It was LSU's first top 10 road win when unranked since 1993. If you need to be told, the Gators all but played their way out of the playoff.||1||8-4|
|Idle. Saturday vs. Tulsa in the AAC Championship Game.||--||9-1|
|Grayson McCall added to a legendary season with a legendary drive. Trailing by three, McCall led the Chanticleers 75 yards for the winning score with 35 seconds left against Troy. That sets up a Sun Belt classic against Louisiana in the title game. Coastal has the nation's best record.||3||11-1|
|Idle. Waiting for bowl game and a contract extension for Tom Allen.||1||6-2|
|I'm having a hard time distinguishing USC from Ohio State. Both are 5-0. Both schedules have been ravaged by COVID-19. Kedon Slovis led the Trojans' third last-minute win in beating UCLA. This late in the season being undefeated has to count for something. A win this week against Washington and USC would likely be the first undefeated Power Five champion not to play for a championship since Auburn in 2004.||5||5-1|
|Idle. Set to play Oklahoma in Big 12 Championship Game.||2||9-3|
|Idle. Set to play Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship Game.||--||9-2|
|This season proved BYU is back. Coach Kalani Sitake and a band of easy-to-like Cougars proved it. There is still the possibility of a 10-win season. A nice bounce-back win over San Diego State propelled the Cougars into the postseason. It's been fun to see Zach Wilson (possibly) play himself into the first round of the NFL Draft.||--||11-1|
|The kind of tune-up you like to see before a championship game. The Wildcats completely shut down Illinois 28-10 while running wild. The 411 rushing yards were 69 short of the school record set in 1961. Freshman Cam Porter came into the game with 38 yards rushing then exploded for 142 against the Illini. The question now is can that defense contain Ohio State.||--||7-2|
|The Bulldogs put up 35 unanswered points at Missouri after a 14-14 tie. The 49-14 score kept Georgia in the running for a New Year's Six bowl. Zamir White rushed for the second-most yards in his career (126 yards).||2||8-2|
|What in the name of humanity was that? In a game the Hurricanes needed to clinch an Orange Bowl berth, they didn't show up. North Carolina put up the most yards ever by a Miami opponent (778). How bad was it? UNC averaged 1.54 points per minute of possession. Buffalo, the top scoring team in the country, is averaging only 1.67 points per MOP.||6||8-3|
|Idle. Set to play Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt Championship Game.||1||10-1|
|What a return to the limelight for Mack Brown. With a 62-26 win over Miami, the Tar Heels may have clinched a New Year's Six bowl. Michael Carter and Javonte Williams combined to rush for 544 yards. That's the most by teammates in FBS history. The Tar Heels are now averaging more points (43) than any North Carolina team in at least the last 12 years. You need to know the name of Phil Longo, UNC's offensive coordinator.||3||8-4|
|Idle. Set to play Cincinnati in AAC Championship Game.||1||6-3|
|Guess who's tied for the eighth-longest winning streak in the nation? The Hawkeyes won their sixth straight beating Wisconsin, 28-7. Snow and Iowa D limited the Badgers to 225 yards. Then Kirk Ferentz bawled his eyes out in the locker room. Really.||3||6-2|
|Idle. Waiting for a bowl game.||1||10-1|
San Jose State
|Can we please put Brent Brennan in the national coach of the year conversation? After beating Nevada 30-20 on Friday, the Spartans are 6-0 for the first time since 1939. Quarterback Nick Starkel is on his third team but completing 66% of his passes. The Spartans scored the last 23 points against the Wolf Pack. Cade Hall had 2.5 sacks, giving him eight on the season. The game was played in Las Vegas since San Jose State can't play at home because of local restrictions. The team left campus Dec. 3 and may not return until after the bowl game.||2||7-1|
|Idle. Set to play UAB in Conference USA Championship Game.||1||7-3|
|Jaret Patterson tied a college football record reaching 1,000 rushing yards in only five games. Patterson rushed for only 105 yards in a 56-7 win over Akron and was outdone by teammate Kevin Marks Jr. (182 rushing yards). The result was a tune up for this week's MAC Championship Game.||NR||6-1|
|In the snow at Wyoming, the Broncos got ready for their fourth straight Mountain West Championship Game with a 17-9 win over the Cowboys. Hank Bachmeier threw for 181 yards. The Broncos' only loss is to BYU.||NR||5-2|
Out: Nevada, Colorado