Handicapping the CFP Race Heading into Week 13

We’re down to the final week of the college football regular season. Rivalry week. The best week in college football, and what makes college better than the NFL. You win this game, and you get bragging rights over your biggest rival for a year. There are no re-matches in college football. At least this year. Next year with the power conferences going division-less, and the expanded playoff, teams could potentially face their rivals 3 times in a season. In the final year of the 4 team playoff, the playoff chase is no where close to being settled. There is still the possibility for massive chaos. So without further ado, here are the contenders for the playoff after week 12, going into week 13:

Group of 5: No one
Independents: No one

ACC: #5 Florida State. 8-0 ACC, 11-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 @ Florida, ACC Championship Game vs. Louisville

#10 Louisville. 7-1 ACC, 10-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 vs. Kentucky, ACC Championship Game vs. Florida State

Louisville held off a Miami rally to stay alive in the playoff chase and clinch their spot in the ACC Championship Game. Florida State easily defeated North Alabama, but the bigger story was the season ending injury to quarterback Jordan Travis. Backup Tate Rodemaker takes over now. If he leads the Seminoles to wins in their next 2 games, Florida State should still make the playoff. There is precedent for this. In 2014, Ohio State made the playoff with their 3rd quarterback, Cardale Jones, after JT Barrett broke his ankle in the rivalry game vs. Michigan. Injuries are no excuse. Next man up. I still like the Seminoles to defeat the Gators, and Louisville to defeat Kentucky.

Big 12: #7 Texas. 7-1 Big 12, 10-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 vs. Texas Tech

In the Big 12, it’s Texas or bust for the playoff. If the Longhorns handle business vs. the Red Raiders, they clinch their spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. I like the chances of that happening.

SEC: #1 Georgia. 8-0 SEC, 11-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 @ Georgia Tech, SEC Championship Game vs. Alabama

#8 Alabama. 7-0 SEC, 10-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 @ Auburn, SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia

Both teams won easily last week, heading into their showdown next week. Georgia should have no issues with Tech, but Alabama will have their hands full with Auburn. The game is at Jordan-Hare, and Alabama has had their share of issues there over the years. I’m going with Auburn to pull off the upset.

Pac-12: #4 Washington. 8-0 Pac-12, 11-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 vs. Washington State, Pac-12 Championship Game (opponent TBD)

#6 Oregon. 7-1 Pac-12, 10-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 vs. Oregon State

Oregon handled Arizona State easily last week, while Washington hung on to defeat Oregon State. In the last year of the Pac-12 as we know it, the 2 schools who don’t have a home for next year face their biggest rivals, who happen to the Pac-12’s contenders for the playoff. This might be the last year of the Platypus Cup (nee civil war), while Washington and Washington State have agreed to a 5 year extension of the Apple Cup. While the Beavers and Cougars would love to end the playoff hopes of their in-state rivals, don’t expect it to happen. Look for the Ducks and Huskies to win.

Big 10: #3 Michigan. 8-0 Big 10, 11-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 vs. Ohio State

#2 Ohio State. 8-0 Big 10, 11-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 13 @ Michigan

Regardless of off the field matters at Michigan, this is how it’s supposed to be in the Big 10. Michigan. Ohio State. Before the Big 10 went to divisions and a conference championship game, this game decided the winner of the Big 10 22 times, and determined who would win it another 27 times, including the 2001 game that made me an OSU fan. That game was the first time I watched college football, and Ohio State beat Michigan to prevent them from winning the Big 10. Since 2000, there have only been 3 matchups of 11-0 teams. Those games? Michigan-Ohio State 2006, Michigan-Ohio State 2022, and this year.

For the 3rd year in a row, and the 4th time since 2018, the winner will go to the Big 10 Championship Game. Unlike last year, the loser will likely miss the playoff. This could very well be the last dance at Michigan for a while. They stand to lose 40+ players to graduation and the NFL, a murderer’s row schedule next year, and the possibility that Harbough will leave for the NFL. Michigan knows exactly what’s going on with the sign-stealing scandal. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have dropped the appeal of Harbough’s suspension, and they wouldn’t have fired linebackers coach Chris Patrridge at this point in the season. This is like the Pete Carroll situation at USC. He was flirting with NFL jobs for years and then when the hammer came down, he was out. Most players on Ohio State’s roster have not experienced a win over Michigan, due to the 2020 game being cancelled, and then losing to them the last 2 years. Ohio State fans have been calling for Day to be fired if he loses to Michigan for the 3rd year in a row, but that’s not going to happen with the expanded playoff and a division-less Big 10 coming next year. Look for Ohio State to defeat Michigan and for Day to get the monkey off his back. In tribute to Woody Hayes, with the outcome of the game already decided, Ohio State will score a touchdown near the end of the game, and Ryan Day will go for 2. Why? Because he can’t go for 3!

CFP Top 10 Rankings:
1. Georgia
2. Ohio State
3. Michigan
4. Washington
5. Florida State
6. Oregon
7. Texas
8. Alabama
9. Mizzou
10. Louisville

Games of the Week:
Michigan vs. Ohio State. The Game. The site of ESPN College Gameday and Fox Big Noon Kickoff.
Florida vs. Florida State. How will the Noles fare without Jordan Travis?
Oregon vs. Oregon State, Washington vs. Washington State. Can the Ducks and Huskies make it to championship weekend unscathed?
Auburn vs. Alabama. The Iron Bowl. Alabama has lost this game in 2013, 2017, and 2019, and almost lost in 2021. Will history repeat itself?

Championship Saturday matchup predictions:
ACC: Florida State vs. Louisville (set)
Big 12: Oklahoma State vs. Texas
SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama (set)
Pac-12: Oregon vs. Washington (clinched spot)
Big 10: Iowa (clinched spot) vs. Ohio State

Playoff prediction:
Sugar Bowl: #1 Georgia vs. #4 Florida State
Rose Bowl: #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Texas

At the end of championship Saturday, I think the chalk holds, and these 4 teams win, along with Oregon. That would leave 3 13-0 teams that get in, and the last spot would come down to 12-1 Oregon and 12-1 Texas. The Longhorns would get in because they have the best non-conference win, when they defeated Alabama on the road. Georgia would get the 1 seed over Ohio State due to SEC bias. Despite Florida State’s 13-0 record in this scenario, they’d still be the 4th seed due to the loss of Jordan Travis.

Share This Article