College Football Playoff Rankings: Biggest Takeaways from Week 14

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College Football Playoff Rankings: Biggest Takeaways from Week 14
USA Today

How much should J.T. Barrett's injury hurt Ohio State?

This will be the No. 1 question put in front of the selection committee this weekend before it releases its penultimate rankings this season. The Buckeyes improved to 11-1 with a victory over archrival Michigan, but late in the game Barrett broke his ankle and is out for the rest of the season.

The NCAA basketball tournament selection committee takes injuries to key players into consideration when it determines seeding. The most infamous case being No. 1-ranked Cincinnati being reduced to a 2-seed when star center Kenyon Martin went down with a season-ending broken leg just before the 2000 tournament.

But should the newly formed football committee do the same? After all, there are only four playoff teams. Is it right to exclude a team based more on future speculation than actual past performance?

We won't have a clue on that until at least Tuesday. But even without that question, the Buckeyes are probably still on the outside of the four-team playoff field at the moment. Here's how the playoff picture looks with one week of the regular season to go:

Playoff Contenders Pecking Order
Rank Team Remaining Schedule
1 Alabama SEC Championship vs. Missouri
2 Oregon Pac-12 Championship vs. Arizona
3 Florida State ACC Championship vs. Georgia Tech
5 TCU vs. Iowa State
6 Ohio State Big Ten Championship vs. Wisconsin
7 Baylor vs. Kansas State
11 Arizona Pac-12 Championship vs. Oregon
12 Kansas State at Baylor

No conference championship game for Big 12

Teams That Are Win-and-in

Alabama, Oregon and Florida State

These three teams probably will remain Nos. 1-3—and in that order—though only the Ducks cruised to victory. While the Seminoles played with fire once again, they still managed to remain as the only unbeaten team in FBS. All three teams will be heavily favored to win their respective conference title games next week.

Teams That Need Some Help

TCU and Baylor

Neither team can be certain of advancing to the playoff by just winning next week. TCU has the easier task, hosting 2-9 Iowa State. But the Horned Frogs can't be sure if the committee will finally decide that Baylor's head-to-head victory should matter more. The Bears can really make their case by beating Kansas State convincingly at home to at least share the conference title.

Team That Needs Lots of Help

Ohio State

Even without Barrett's injury, Ohio State still does not appear to have the resume to supplant TCU for the final playoff spot. A labored win over woeful Michigan isn't going to help Ohio State's cause much, and beating two-loss Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game might not add much either. If TCU and Baylor both win next week, the Buckeyes will need one of the top three teams to lose.

Teams That Still Have a Shot

Arizona and Kansas State

Both teams still have a shot to win their respective conference titles, the former via the Pac-12 Championship Game and the latter by virtue of beating Baylor. Both teams need lots of other things to break their way, of course, chief being upsets in other conference title games.

Group of Five Teams in the Best Position

Which team most deserves to get G5 slot?

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Marshall played its way out of this position after losing to Western Kentucky in overtime. Now this bid is Boise State's to lose. If the Broncos defeat Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game, they will grab the first Group of Five bid in CFP history.

Should Boise State (10-2) falter against a team it already defeated earlier in the season, then the access slot will go to Northern Illinois (10-2), if it defeats Bowling Green in the MAC title game. If the Huskies lose, it'll go to Memphis, which has finished the season at 9-3 and claimed at least a share of the American Athletic title.

Conference Championship Matchups

ACC: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech

Big Ten: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Pac-12: Oregon vs. Arizona

SEC: Alabama vs. Missouri

C-USA: Marshall vs. Louisiana Tech

MAC: Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green

MWC: Boise State vs. Fresno State

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