With 6 College Football Playoff contenders left, what does it take for each to make it onto the field?

And then there were six more. The top four teams on the College Football Playoff Committee all play this weekend.

The teams ranked 5th through 7th do not do this. That means the committee was forced to show their hand on Tuesday night ahead of their final standings on Sunday.

Ohio State fell from No. 2 to No. 5, and Alabama sits at No. 6, ahead of Tennessee at No. 7, despite the Vols’ direct victory over the Crimson Tide. There’s nothing Tennessee can do to level that no-game bottom.

That makes the task of sorting playoff scenarios that much easier when there are six teams left in the running. Clemson’s loss rendered the ACC title game completely irrelevant as it relates to the playoff picture.

LSU’s loss at Texas A&M, combined with Georgia’s all-season dominance, has largely rendered the SEC championship game irrelevant outside of seeding. Ditto for Michigan’s date with Purdue in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Championship Game.

But let’s take a look at what’s happening with the playoff field depending on the results of this weekend’s league games.

Big 12: No. 3 TCU vs. No. 10 Kansas State

The Wildcats are not a tin can. They are a top 10 opponent who can beat TCU very well and led the Frogs 28-10 in October before giving up the final 28 points of the game in a 38-28 loss.

If TCU wins, it will be No. 3 as Michigan and Georgia are considered heavy favorites in the Big Ten and SEC title games.

When TCU loses, the conversation gets a bit complicated. TCU has eight wins against bowl teams, but in the committee’s top rankings, Alabama topped undefeated TCU by a loss. Would the committee place a two-loss Alabama ahead of a one-loss TCU?

The good news for TCU is that Kansas State made the top 10. So if the Frogs lose, it would be a loss for a top 10 team.

If USC wins, TCU would have to use the committee before Ohio State. That seems highly unlikely given how skeptical the committee is about the Frogs’ lack of game control this season.

A narrow TCU loss would likely help, but if USC also loses, there’s no guarantee the committee would field the Frogs ahead of Alabama with two losses. It would be a close debate and the Frogs would be rightly outraged if they were excluded, but it would be a nerve-wracking Sunday relying on the committee to use them over the Crimson Tide.

But losses by TCU and USC are Alabama’s only path to the playoffs, and it could require a blowout loss by TCU.

Pac-12: #4 USC vs. #11 Utah

All USC drama is over. After LSU, Tennessee, and Clemson all lost, it simplified the Trojans’ path. All you have to do is win and be in.

It’s hard to imagine a non-conference champion USC team with two losses coming in ahead of Ohio State with one loss and Alabama with two losses. The debate between USC and Alabama could get tight, and it’s plausible that USC could still win the field with a TCU loss, but it’s highly unlikely that USC would make the field with a loss over the Crimson Tide no matter how meager.

USC’s path looks simple for the most part: win and it’s in. Lose, and it probably shouldn’t bother watching Sunday’s bracket reveal.

Big Ten: No. 2 Michigan vs. Purdue

Michigan’s dominant win over Ohio State may have narrowed the first-place gap between the Wolverines and the Bulldogs.

But Michigan’s road win over Ohio State will keep it from falling below the Buckeyes, and its victories over Penn State and Ohio State will keep it with a loss over Alabama.

The Wolverines wouldn’t be conference champions if they lost, which could mean a drop below USC in the final rankings, but it’s plausible – albeit unlikely – that they would remain above the Trojans in the final rankings.

Michigan will make the field regardless of the margin of a loss to Purdue, who is a 16.5-point underdog.

SEC: #1 Georgia vs. #14 LSU

LSU’s loss to A&M removes any hope LSU had of crashing the field. The committee let the Tigers do just that after ranking Brian Kelly’s team at No. 5 last week. But any playoff relevance in this game is probably over.

Georgia’s victories over Tennessee and Oregon are two of the best wins any team has, and the defending champion Bulldogs can’t fall off the field no matter what happens on Saturday. The Bulldogs are also 17.5-point favorites for the Tigers.

Most Likely Scenarios

If TCU loses:

1. Georgia
2.Michigan
3.USC
4. State of Ohio

If USC loses:

1. Georgia
2.Michigan
3. TCU
4. State of Ohio

If TCU and USC lose:

1. Georgia
2.Michigan
3. State of Ohio
4. TCU or Alabama, likely depending on margin of TCU loss

If Georgia loses:

1.Michigan
2.USC
3. TCU
4. Georgia

If Michigan loses:

1. Georgia
2. TCU
3.USC
4.Michigan

If Georgia and USC lose:

1.Michigan
2. TCU
3. State of Ohio
4. Georgia

If Georgia and TCU lose:

1.Michigan
2.USC
3. State of Ohio
4. Georgia

If Michigan and TCU lose:

1. Georgia
2.USC
3.Michigan
4. State of Ohio

If Michigan and USC lose:

1. Georgia
2. TCU
3.Michigan
4. State of Ohio

(Photo by Stetson Bennett: Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)

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