College Football Playoff Chase: Ranking The 11 Teams Still Alive After Week 11

Who’s still alive in the chase to get into the 2021-2022 College Football Playoff? After Week 11, here are the 11 teams still alive and what they need to do to get in.

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Week 11 Roundup
Rankings AP | Coaches | CFN 1-130 Rankings
Week 12 Early Line Predictions | Heisman Race
College Football Playoff Chase, Who’s Alive?
Bowl Projections | Week 11 Scoreboard, Predictions
Big Game Reactions: Baylor, Mich, Ole Miss, more
Coach Hot Seat Top 10 | Bowl Bubble: Who’s In, Out

Throughout the last few weeks of doing this, the College Football Playoff chase has been about who realistically has the easiest and hardest paths to get in.

But enough of that.

No more being cheeky about it. No more throwing a cookie to an unbeaten UTSA team that has no chance of getting into the top four – but is very much alive for the New Years Six race.

There are 11 teams remaining in the College Football Playoff chase, and here’s ranking their chances and what has to happen to get in.

Before it was about the cold, hard reality of what each team had to do. We’re now ranking them based on if we think it could happen, or not.

No. 1 is going to get in, No. 11 isn’t, and everything in between falls into place, starting with …

11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-1)

It’s a wonderful story, but there are a whole lot of massive walls Wake Forest would have to scale to get in, and it starts by first just getting into a position to have the discussion.

Is Wake Forest good enough to get by Clemson on the road? Maybe. Is it good enough to get by a renewed and improved Boston College team that got better since starting QB Phil Jurkovec returned? Maybe.

Is it good enough to get by Clemson and Boston College on the road, and then take down – most likely – Pitt in the ACC Championship? It’s almost certainly going to slip in one of those three games, but even if it doesn’t, there’s still a whole lot of traffic in the pecking order.

What’s the one signature win? It would be the ACC Championship if that happens, but there really isn’t one. NC State? Ehhhhh, okay.

This is how the College Football Playoff committee works, by the way.

It would look at Wake Forest’s loss to North Carolina, point out that 11-1 Notre Dame beat North Carolina, and there’s the hard ceiling to get through.

However, go 12-1, win your Power Five conference title, and good things will probably happen.

10. Oklahoma Sooners (9-1)

This is the “we don’t really believe in you anymore” ranking.

Oklahoma still sort of controls its own destiny.

If it beats Iowa State, and wins at Oklahoma State, and beats Oklahoma State again or gets by Baylor in the Big 12 Championship, yeah. it’s probably in.

I speak College Football Playoff committee. Don’t believe anything else you’re hearing.

12-1 Big 12 champion Oklahoma gets in over a one-loss Wake Forest, a 13-0 Cincinnati – okay, let’s just call that a toss-up depending on how the Bearcats play the rest of the way out – and an 11-1 Notre Dame. Power Five conference championships matter to this group.

However, if it’s down to one spot, it doesn’t get in over a one-loss Pac-12 champion Oregon, or a one-loss Big Ten champ. However, if Oklahoma wins out and Alabama suffers a second loss along the way … in.

After not coming up with a truly strong win over the first nine games and then failing miserably in the first huge test against an okay-not-amazing Baylor team, yeah, we don’t really believe in you anymore, Oklahoma.

Win out, though, and that might not matter.

9. Michigan State Spartans (9-1)

Back in the old days of the BCS, 2008 was one of the biggest whoppers of a season because it was giant mess for two spots, not four. Part of the big whoop was with the old Big 12 South.

Oklahoma and Texas were monsters, and Texas Tech rose up and became a factor.

The Red Raiders shocked Texas in a thriller – it was the Longhorns’ only loss of the regular season – and Texas beat Oklahoma earlier on. Texas, OU, and Texas Tech finished in a three-way tie for the division, but Oklahoma got the call to the Big 12 Championship partly because it annihilated Texas Tech 65-21 late in the year.

Fast forward to 2021. Ohio State and Michigan aren’t exactly the same sort of powerhouses that 2008 Oklahoma and Texas were, but they’re close. Michigan State appears to be the Texas Tech in this scenario.

Now, for this comp to work, Michigan would have to beat Ohio State, and Michigan State – who beat Michigan in a close thriller – already has a loss to Purdue so there can’t be a three-way tie, but basically, this is a painfully long-winded way of saying Michigan State is likely the No. 3 team in a division with three great teams.

There’s a chance to blow past that against a shakier-than-it seems Ohio State this week, but then the Spartans would have to beat Penn State, and then it would likely have to beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.

On the plus side, Michigan State controls its destiny. Beat the Buckeyes, beat the Nittany Lions, and beat – most likely – the Badgers, and in, no questions, no doubt, no drama. In.

It’s probably not going to happen, though.

NEXT: Top 8 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

Top 8 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1)

Total honesty time – this might be the most interesting team in the College Football Playoff era to figure out, and I can’t do it yet.

The Irish are going to blow past Georgia Tech and at Stanford to go 11-1.

The resumé will be fantastic with nine wins over Power Five teams when all is said and done, highlighted by a 41-13 game-wasn’t-as-bad-as-the-score-but-whatever win over Wisconsin, and double-digit victories over Purdue, North Carolina, and Virginia.

The CFP committee likely won’t move the Irish past Cincinnati because of the 24-13 loss at home, but there might be a huge debate. If Cincinnati continues to be hot meh against miserable teams, it’s going to be hard to ignore Notre Dame’s overall body of work.

Now, if Cincinnati loses – and it certainly could if it keeps playing like it has over the last three weeks – then it gets really interesting. The College Football Playoff committee LOVES Power Five champs, and past Irish teams got in when they were either unbeaten, or last year when they were 12-0 with a win over Clemson before losing in the ACC Championship.

11-1 isn’t 12-1.

Note Dame will need some help, but again … watch out. It’ll be lurking in this.

7. Michigan Wolverines (9-1)

It might not be the most spectacular of teams, and it took a massive play to get by Penn State, and a stop to get past Nebraska, and it was a fight to get by Rutgers.

But you know what this is going to come down to.

The Wolverines aren’t going to blow it at Maryland this week – that’s not how Jim Harbaugh teams ruin their chances at greatness. It’ll win that, and then Ohio State comes to Ann Arbor.

As long as the Buckeyes get by Michigan State this weekend, the regular season finale will be for Big Ten East. It could happen – this Ohio State defense is very, very beatable – and Michigan could go on to win a rematch against Wisconsin or beat Iowa or Minnesota in the Big Ten Championship.

The opportunity is there. Let’s just say we’ve seen this movie before, and it doesn’t end well.

6. Cincinnati Bearcats (10-0)

There might not be any other choice when all the smoke clears.

If Cincinnati goes 13-0 and doesn’t get in, it won’t be because of some College Football Playoff committee bias, or blue blood program conspiracies, or anything other than one brutally harsh reality.

This team hasn’t played anything like it needed to against a schedule full of absolutely nothing.

The schedule is the schedule, but if you’re a Group of Five team looking for respect, you have to be obliterating horrible teams like Navy, and Tulane, and Tulsa, and USF when everyone is paying attention, and Cincinnati can’t do it.

Outside of Notre Dame, Cincinnati hasn’t beaten anyone else that beat a Power Five team – and that includes Indiana.

It took a kick return to save the day against the Hoosiers in a 38-24 win. Ohio State beat them 54-7. Rutgers just beat them 38-3.

Now, with all of that said, the committee isn’t going to move Notre Dame past Cincinnati unless there’s a loss.

Is Oregon going to beat Utah twice? Probably not. Is Wake Forest going to be 12-1? Nah. Is Alabama going to beat Georgia? A whole lot of people think so, but probably not.

What other choice you got, son?

It might be 13-0 Georgia, a one-loss Big Ten champ, a one-loss Big 12 champ, and no other options but to give 13-0 Cincinnati a shot.

But first, it has to beat SMU, win at East Carolina – that’s WAY more dangerous than you think – and likely take down Houston in the AAC Championship.

NEXT: Top 5 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

Top 5 College Football Playoff Chase Rankings

5. Oregon Ducks (9-1)

Utah, Utah, Utah, Utah, Utah.

Ohhhhhhhh, no. We’re not going to dismiss the idea that Oregon State could royally screw up the fun by strolling into Eugene on Thanksgiving weekend and leaving with the Pac-12 hating its guts, but this is really about whether or not Oregon can beat Utah twice.

The Ducks finally came up with a strong overall performance where it looked and played in command. It wasn’t easy in the 38-24 win over Washington State, but that was a good win over a strong team in a game that let everyone know that the Ducks really might be able to get this done.

Yeah, and now it has to go to Utah.

Chalk up last week’s Ute underwhelming performance against depleted Arizona as a case of the look-aheads. The lines are crushing everyone, the running game has been fantastic, and this is exactly the type of November road trip that Oregon usually biffs to ruin its chances at greatness – at least since 2015.

Even if Oregon comes away with a win in Salt Lake City, it gets that rivalry date with Oregon State, and then it likely has to deal with Utah once again in the Pac-12 Championship.

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-1)

I’m putting the jinx on Oklahoma State because I’ve been telling everyone who will listen – and most who won’t – that this team is going to be what we’re all talking about over the next few weeks.

Now watch Texas Tech drop a rock on Oklahoma State’s head next week in Lubbock.

The defense continues to be among the best in the country – it hasn’t allowed more than 24 points all year – the offense is stepping up with 63 last week against a TCU team that stunned Baylor, and now the chance is there to do something special.

If it beats Texas Tech, it gets Oklahoma in Stillwater with a chance to go to the Big 12 Championship at 11-1. If Baylor beats Kansas State and Texas Tech to close, it’ll play the Cowboys in this scenario – OSU won 24-14 in the first meeting.

Or, Baylor loses one of its last two games and Oklahoma State has to beat Oklahoma two weeks in a row.

Going back to a previous segment, has Oklahoma shown you anything yet to make you believe it can get by a team playing as well as Oklahoma State is playing?

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1)

Yeah, the offense is ripping everyone to shreds, and yeah, the team is getting better as the season has gone on, but the defense has shown just enough issues and holes to keep from fully believing it’s just going to roll on through the final three games.

Would you be totally stunned if Michigan State repeated the Michigan game against Ohio State?

By that I mean that Ohio State could roll up a bazillion yards, outplay the Spartans in a lot of ways, and lose because Kenneth Walker and company find some extra play-with-heart gear in the fourth quarter when everything matters.

It’s not going to be easy.

Outside of the Oregon loss, Ohio State is going to play its three toughest games of the year, and it has to prove it’s now consistent enough to get this done against Michigan State, at Michigan, and then – likely – Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.

With the way the Badgers are rolling, you 100% sold that the Buckeye defense can deal with that running game and that defense with ease?

Even so, win three games, be the 2-or-3 seed in the College Football Playoff. Or the four if Oregon wins out and there’s a massive win by …

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1)

The win over LSU was way too scary, and the 31-29 win over Florida looks awful now, and there’s still the loss to Texas A&M that hangs over the team’s head.

However, when Alabama is on – like It was in the 49-9 win at Mississippi State and in the second half of the 52-24 win over Tennessee, or in the 42-21 win over Ole Miss – of course it can beat anyone.

But if it plays against Arkansas like it did against LSU, it’s going to lose.

Auburn QB Bo Nix is hurt and expected to be out for the Alabama game, but that’s still a dangerous road game if the Tide are off.

Those two games are hardly two-foot putts, and then there’s that Georgia thing to deal with in the SEC Championship.

Don’t put it past the College Football Playoff committee to invoke the “because it’s Alabama” clause if the SEC title game is a close thriller, but it’s going to have to take something weird for Bama to be in with two losses, no matter what.

1. Georgia Bulldogs (10-0)

The Georgia defense was supposed to be tested by Tennessee.

41-17 Dawgs.

Going to Auburn was supposed to be difficult.

34-10 Dawgs.

The fully functional Clemson defense held the Bulldogs to ten points in the seen opener, and no one else has been able to come within 17 points of this team.

No one has been able to score 17 points on this defense.

Charleston Southern isn’t going to do it, and neither will Georgia Tech. Win those two games, and get into the College Football Playoff no matter what happens in the SEC Championship.

Week 11 Roundup
Rankings AP | Coaches | CFN 1-130 Rankings
Week 12 Early Line Predictions | Heisman Race
College Football Playoff Chase, Who’s Alive?
Bowl Projections | Week 11 Scoreboard, Predictions
Big Game Reactions: Baylor, Mich, Ole Miss, more
Coach Hot Seat Top 10 | Bowl Bubble: Who’s In, Out