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Reassessing the College Football Playoff picture heading into a pivotal Week 13

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Ohio State isn’t the only team still hoping to sneak into the playoff.

Nov 18, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer watches his team warm up before the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Urban Meyer
USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the final week of the regular season, the College Football Playoff picture is anything but clear.

We know the players at the top: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Miami (Fl.), and No. 4 Oklahoma. Trailing the leaders are playoff hopefuls in No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 6 Auburn, No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 Notre Dame, and No. 9 Ohio State.

Here’s a complete look at the current playoff standings that matter (before the latest rankings are released tomorrow):

College Football Playoff Rankings

Ranking Team Conference Record Overall Record
Ranking Team Conference Record Overall Record
No. 1 Alabama 7-0 11-0
No. 2 Clemson 7-1 10-1
No. 3 Miami 7-0 10-0
No. 4 Oklahoma 7-1 10-1
No. 5 Wisconsin 8-0 11-0
No. 6 Auburn 6-1 9-2
No. 7 Georgia 7-1 10-1
No. 8 Notre Dame 0-0 9-2
No. 9 Ohio State 7-1 9-2
No. 10 Penn State 6-2 9-2
No. 11 USC 8-1 10-2
No. 12 TCU 6-2 9-2

How everything plays out seems like it could be relatively straightforward.

If Alabama and Oklahoma win out as expected, they’re both in. And whoever takes home the ACC title between Miami and Clemson will easily secure a spot. That’s three of the four teams locked in.

Simple enough, right?

While this is all based on assumption, that is by far the most likely scenario. Realistically speaking, the only way chaos even enters the picture is if Alabama loses to Auburn on Saturday and/or Georgia in the SEC Championship game. The smart money isn’t on Nick Saban dropping one to either.

But what about the fourth and final team?

Well, that leaves Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Ohio State as the remaining playoff contenders.

We’ll go ahead and scratch out the Fighting Irish considering they’re a two-loss team that’s just a few weeks removed from being blown out by Miami with no conference title to fall back on.

So now we’re left with Wisconsin and Ohio State, who’ve already punched their tickets to the Big Ten Championship.

After taking care of then-No. 20 Michigan last week, the Badgers are set to finish the regular season undefeated. The Buckeyes need only to beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor to stay in the thick of things.

The winner of the Big Ten Championship game will be rewarded with a playoff spot. Take it to the bank.

As you can see, there are still a fair amount of teams jockeying for postseason positioning. A lot could happen in the coming weeks and the standings might look completely different in another seven days.

The chaos isn’t as likely to occur as you’d think, though. I wouldn’t plan on much changing when it comes to Alabama, Oklahoma, and the ACC champ’s position in the playoff.

What will change is who joins them.

Don’t be surprised when that team is Wisconsin or – Gasp! – Ohio State.