For much of the season, the expectation has been for the national championship to come down to Clemson, Ohio State, and Alabama. Who the fourth team in the College Football Playoffs will be is debatable. But it does not matter who it is since they will not beat one of the top three.
The assumption was that the winner of the Big 12 would be the fourth team. However, after losing to Texas, even if Oklahoma State does win the conference title, they may be deemed unworthy of the fourth and final slot.
So—then who gets it? And could any of those teams have a shot?
That is not the only question that popped up over the weekend. Without Trevor Lawrence, Clemson nearly fell to Boston College. But a great game by D.J. Uiagalelei and a strong second half by Travis Etienne and the Clemson defense saved the day.
However, Clemson is going to be without Lawrence again this weekend against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have a much better team than Boston College. While they were able to play a poor first half and strong second half and win against BC, they will not be able to do the same against the Fighting Irish.
If they lose, how do we view a one-loss Clemson team?
National Championship Odds: So You’re Saying There’s A Chance…
The close call without Trevor Lawrence was enough for the oddsmakers at DraftKings to move Clemson’s odds from +120 to +175. But even if they were to lose to Notre Dame this weekend, as long as they win out after Lawrence returns (including the ACC title game), they will have their spot in the playoffs.
With everyone healthy, they will certainly have an excellent chance to win it all.
Another big for Alabama caused their odds to go from +275 to +200. Since the offense looked just fine without Jaylen Waddle, it is safe to say they still have a great shot at winning it all.
Ohio State looked fine in their first win but getting their second in dominant fashion over Penn State helped their odds go from +350 to +250. Since they have only played two games, their odds are not going to be as good as Alabama or Clemson. But there is no reason to think they cannot win against either.
Oklahoma State (+15000) is still in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 title game and will undoubtedly deserve consideration. But if Texas can give them fits, it is hard to see them competing against Alabama, Clemson, or Ohio State.
The question then becomes who could earn the fourth slot and whether they have a chance to win.
Georgia (+1100) is still in the running. Beating Florida this weekend will boost their case. But then they will need to beat Alabama in the SEC title game (and that is not going to happen).
Should Florida (+2200) win this weekend, they will be in the driver’s seat for an SEC title game spot. With a win over Alabama, they could earn a place in the Final Four. But they will be hard-pressed to win that game (and no two-loss team has ever made the playoffs).
Notre Dame (+3300) will move to the forefront of the conversation with a win over Clemson this weekend. But they may need to beat them again in the ACC title game with a healthy Trevor Lawrence behind center for the Tigers to make the Final Four.
If they can, then their defense and run game could give them a shot.
Will the 12s Make Any Noise in the College Football National Championship Odds
Many seem to think that the door could be open for Texas A&M (+5000) to make it in. If they can run the table the rest of the way, which is entirely possible against their schedule, they will have a better case than the Big Ten runner-up, a two-loss Big 12 champ, and anyone from the Pac-12.
As for the Pac-12, the conference is seen as a step above the Group of Five, of course. But it often seems like it is viewed as a step-down from the other Power Five conferences.
DraftKings has given USC and Oregon the best odds for Pac-12 teams (+10000). They will need to go undefeated in the Pac-12’s short schedule and dominate every game even to have a shot of making the Final Four.
Until we see them play, it is hard to say whether they could even be competitive with the top three.
The field is starting to get smaller, but there is still time for someone to emerge and stake their claim to a shot at the national championship. Thanks to Oklahoma State losing to Texas and Trevor Lawrence testing positive for the coronavirus, the door is wide open.