Remaining NCAA Football Games with Key Impact on Playoff

Photo Credit: Ann Arbor (featured image), CBS Sports (team logos)

There are still 86 days to go until the best two teams in NCAA football will meet to determine who the 2017 national champion is, and that means there is lots of meaningful football to be played yet until we find out which four teams even make it to the College Football Playoff (CFP) semifinals, which will be held nine days prior. Here is a list of some of the key games down the stretch that could have a real impact on shaping this season’s CFP field involving two teams that BOTH still have a legitimate chance at making it into NCAA football’s version of NCAA basketball’s “Final Four.” This list includes the matchups themselves, the date of the matchups, and each team’s current rank in the AP Poll as well as their current overall record. This games on this list are ranked based on their current predicted impact, from least to most impactful. Note that this list does also not count conference championship games, which are sure to impact the CFP picture.

Note that there are other games featuring two top 25 teams (as of now), but one or more of those teams does not have a realistic chance at making it into the CFP this season. This list does also not count conference championship games, which are sure to impact the CFP picture. Without further do, here are those 15 remaining games.

 

POTENTIAL IMPACTFUL MATCHUPS on the CFP

15. okla #19 Oklahoma Sooners (3-2) @ wvu #20 West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0)

  • Date: Week 12- Saturday, November 19th
  • Analysis: For Oklahoma to get into the CFP, they will need a lot of help. To be ranked among the top four teams in the nation with two losses and no conference championship game will be extremely tough, so Oklahoma’s likelihood of making it in is doubtful. West Virginia does not yet look like a national contender, however, this game could be a huge game in helping to determine who the Big 12 champion is, and the Big 12 champion will at least be looked at by the CFP committee.

 

14. baylor #11 Baylor Bears (5-0) @ okla #19 Oklahoma Sooners (3-2)

  • Date: Week 11- Saturday, November 12th
  • Analysis: Again, for Oklahoma to get into the CFP, they will need a lot of help. To be ranked among the top four teams in the nation with two losses and no conference championship game will be extremely tough, so Oklahoma’s likelihood of making it in is doubtful. Baylor does not yet look like a national contender, however, they do look better than West Virginia, and this game could be a huge game in helping to determine who the Big 12 champion is, and the Big 12 champion will at least be looked at by the CFP committee.

 

13. miami #16 Miami Hurricanes (4-1) @ vatech #17 Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1)

  • Date: Week 8- Thursday, October 20th
  • Analysis: This game already looks like it will determine which of these two teams makes it into the ACC championship game. Both teams have only one loss, so neither one has eliminated themselves from CFP consideration. Since this game will provide a quality win for either team and may determine the ACC championship game’s second team, it cannot fly under the radar as a game that could potentially impact which teams that make it into the CFP field.

 

12. fla #18 Florida Gators (4-1) @ fsu #14 Florida State Seminoles (4-2)

  • Date: Week 13- Saturday, November 26th
  • Analysis: It is a stretch to say that Florida State has a chance to get into the CFP with two losses and a longshot at even making it to the ACC championship game, but given their current AP Poll rank, they are obviously not done yet. They are ranked even higher than Florida, a team that only has one loss with a small chance at making it to the SEC championship game. Both of these teams have only small chances to make it to the CFP, but in the final week of the season for both teams, this game could make an impact on the CFP field.

 

11. clem #3 Clemson Tigers (6-0) @ fsu #14 Florida State Seminoles (4-2)

  • Date: Week 9- Saturday, October 29th
  • Analysis: I’m sorry, but putting this game so low makes me sad. Yes, sad. But it’s still on the list, and the reason is the fact that both of these teams are great teams, and despite Florida State’s two losses and extremely poor likelihood of making it to the ACC championship game, their ranking shows just how good they are. Sure, it will be tough for a team with two losses to get into the CFP having not played in their conference championship game, but a win against a team who, right now, has perhaps the best chance of making it to the CFP would help to counter that “2” in the loss column.

 

10. wash #5 Washington Huskies (6-0) @ utah #21 Utah Utes (5-1)

  • Date: Week 9- Saturday, October 29th
  • Analysis: Washington has a great chance to make it into the CFP with where we stand right now, while Utah will need lots of held. Still, Utah is a team with one loss and a straight path to getting to the Pacific 12 championship game. This game will serve as a “make or break” game in terms of whether or not Washington is a legitimate contender, and it will serve as that quality opponent that Utah needs to beat if they have any desire whatsoever to be ranked among other top CFP contenders.

 

9. miss #12 Mississippi Rebels (3-2) @ texam #6 Texas A&M Aggies (6-0)

  • Date: Week 11- Saturday, November 12th
  • Analysis: Even with two losses, Mississippi has a slim chance at making it into the SEC championship game. However, their chances at making the CFP are even slimmer, but they’re there. Their ranking suggests that they are much better than their record stats, and that is true, but having a “2” in the loss column shrinks their chances of making it to the SEC championship game and the CFP small, but still somewhat evident. The fact that this matchup is a ways off yet helps out Mississippi, as they could move up the rankings in the meantime. Texas A&M? They’re another story. They control their own destiny to get into the SEC championship game and the CFP.

 

8. baylor #11 Baylor Bears (5-0) @ wvu #20 West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0)

  • Date: Week 14- Saturday, December 3rd
  • Analysis: Two of the top Big 12 teams battling head to head in the final week of both their regular seasons should play a major role in this year’s CFP field, particularly if they are both still unbeaten heading into the game. However, neither one of these teams is playing at a level at which they would be able to compete in the CFP right now. Still, this late season game, which could effectively serve as the Big 12’s unofficial championship game, could have a say who makes it into the CFP field.

 

7. lou #7 Louisville Cardinals (5-1) @ hou #13 Houston Cougars (5-1)

  • Date: Week 12- Thursday, November 17th
  • Analysis: Both Louisville and Houston have pretty easy-looking schedules up until this week 12 showdown. Both teams will absolutely need to get this quality win to have a shot at making it into the CFP field, so assuming both teams cruise through their opponents until this game, this game could heavily impact the teams that make it into the CFP due to the quality win that it would provide for the game’s winner. In Louisville’s case, they need the quality win because of their slim shot at making the ACC championship game after losing to Clemson. In Houston’s case, they need the quality win because there is no way a 10-2 (or worse) non-Power Five team will make it into the CFP. Despite neither team being a real NCAA football juggernaut, this game could end up being one of the marquee games that has a say in the CFP field this season.

 

6. neb #10 Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0) @ wisc #8 Wisconsin Badgers (4-1)

  • Date: Week 9- Saturday, October 29th
  • Analysis: This game will serve as the likely Big Ten West championship game, and the winner will most likely go on to the Big Ten championship game and face either Michigan or Ohio State. Given that the loser of this game will likely end up with two or more losses this season with effectively no chance at making it to the Big Ten championship game, this game will be a fight for both teams to stay alive and stay in contention for the CFP. This game is a “win-or-go-home” game in the middle of the season.

 

5. neb #10 Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0) @ ohiost #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0)

  • Date: Week 10- Saturday, November 5th
  • Analysis: This game will either serve as yet another display of how great Ohio State can play and how they can contend for their second CFP title in three seasons, or it will serve as a true legitimizing game for Nebraska and keep their hopes at CFP appearance fully intact. A loss will definitely not eliminate Ohio State from CFP contention, especially if its their only loss of the season, and given Nebraska’s potential road to the Big Ten championship game, it may not eliminate them either, especially if it’s their only loss of the season as well.

 

4. bama #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0) @ tenn #9 Tennessee Volunteers (5-1)

  • Date: Week 7- Saturday, October 15th
  • Analysis: Like the Nebraska @ Ohio State game, this game will either serve as yet another display of how great Alabama can play and how they can contend for their second consecutive CFP title, or it will serve as one of the best if not the best quality win that the Tennessee program has ever experienced. A loss will definitely not eliminate Alabama from CFP contention, and given Tennessee’s potential road to the SEC championship game, it may not eliminate them either, even with two losses.

 

3. ohiost #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0) @ wisc #8 Wisconsin Badgers (4-1)

  • Date: Week 7- Saturday, October 15th
  • Analysis: Like the Nebraska @ Ohio State and Alabama @ Tennessee games, this game will either serve as yet another display of how great Ohio State can play and how they can contend for their second CFP title in three seasons, or it will serve as a true legitimizing game for Wisconsin and keep their hopes at CFP appearance alive. A loss will definitely not eliminate Ohio State from CFP contention, especially if its their only loss of the season, and given Wisconsin’s potential road to the Big Ten championship game, it may not eliminate them either, even with two losses.

 

2. texam #6 Texas A&M Aggies (6-0) @ bama #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0)

  • Date: Week 8- Saturday, October 22nd
  • Analysis: This game has a great chance to determine which of these two teams will make it into the SEC championship game, and it is likely that, given how good they both are, the losing team may also remain in consideration for this season’s CFP, especially if they both meet as unbeaten teams and the only loss between the two teams ends up being from this game. This game may not only determine who the best team in the SEC is; it could determine who the best team in the nation is, and that certainly makes it extremely impactful on the CFP.

 

1. mich #4 Michigan Wolverines (6-0) @ ohiost #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0)

  • Date: Week 13- Saturday, November 26th
  • Analysis: This game is almost guaranteed to determine which of these two teams will make it into the Big Ten championship game, and it is likely that, given how good they both are, the losing team may also remain in consideration for this season’s CFP, especially if they both meet in the final week of their regular seasons as two unbeaten teams. Like the Texas A&M @ Alabama game, this game may not only determine who the best team in the Big Ten is; it could determine who the best team in the nation is, making it very, very impactful on the CFP.

 

-Asher Fair

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