It has been a little unclear as to what teams will have a shot at the national championship this year. There is Clemson, of course, and Alabama. But fans have been trying to figure out the two teams that will join them in the College Football Playoffs.
Dealing under the assumption that Ohio State would look as good as they did, there is only one spot left to fill—but who is going to get that?
The winner of the Big 12 will come to mind. But is there a chance that the winner gets bypassed for a one or two-loss SEC team? Or what about a one-loss Big Ten team?
If Michigan’s only loss is to Ohio State, could they make it in? What if Wisconsin’s lone loss is to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game along those lines? Should we ignore a two-loss Notre Dame team (with both losses coming against Clemson)?
But what if Notre Dame beats Clemson during the regular season but loses to the Tigers in the ACC title game?
In a way, we got some answers (or at least one) since we know Ohio State is in the picture. Otherwise, there is nothing but question marks and possibilities. The only thing we do know is that someone will eventually win.
National Championship Odds: The Big Ten Makes Things Interesting
Clemson (+120; odds via DraftKings) is already considered a given to be in the College Football Playoffs and quite possibly the title game. While they did not do themselves any favors with a lackluster effort against Syracuse, they still won by 26 points.
Just imagine how much they could have won by had they played well.
Alabama (+275) is considered a given as well but suffered a hit to their title hopes in Saturday’s win over Tennessee. Wide receiver Jaylen Waffle went down with what ended up being a season-ending injury. The offense clicked without him and looked great, but it will be tougher to beat Clemson (or whomever else makes the title game) without him.
Once the Big Ten announced its return, Ohio State (+350) assumed a position in the top four. After destroying Nebraska last week, that spot is cemented in. However, they are going to need more than Justin Fields to win the national championship. Their run defense will need to be a lot tougher as well.
They may be able to give up 200+ yards on the ground to Nebraska and win. But Alabama and Clemson have much better run games along with good passing attacks.
But Really, Who is the Fourth Team in the National Title Playoff Odds?
The fourth spot, and whether someone can beat the top three, is up in the air. Georgia (+1200) has the next best odds, but we already know they cannot hang with Alabama. Florida (+2500) has a shot still, but they must beat Georgia and probably Alabama in the SEC title game (which would then make Alabama’s inclusion questionable).
Of course, the easy solution would be for the Big 12 champion to take the fourth spot. An undefeated Oklahoma State (+8000) team would deserve a spot in the Playoffs, but it is hard to say whether they could compete with the top three teams, let alone beat them.
But if the champ ends up being a two-loss Texas (+20000) or Oklahoma (+10000) team, there is a chance a one-loss (or maybe even two-loss) team from the SEC or Big Ten could make it in instead. That could open the door for Texas A&M (+5000) if they can win-out, and the SEC East winner has two losses.
However, it is hard to see them taking down either of the top three.
With a strong showing against Pitt over the weekend, Notre Dame (+4000) remains in the conversation. Their run game and defense could keep them in the game against the top three. But to win, they may need the passing game to become more consistent.
Chances are good they will also have two losses, one to Clemson during the regular season and again during the ACC title game.
Outside of Ohio State, most of the Big Ten competition does not appear to be up to the task—except for Michigan. The Wolverines got off to a great start against Nebraska last weekend. Defensively, they looked great, as expected, but then the offense looked great as well under new quarterback, Joe Milton.
Should the defense continue to look strong and Milton and the offense improves, a one-loss Michigan team could slide into the fourth spot. Of course, once we sort this mess out, the Pac-12 will confuse things all over again—especially if USC, Oregon, and Washington get off to strong starts.