Higher placed teams finished an astounding 54-11 in week 13. Yet, this was an unbelievably dramatic weekend. Michigan finally climbed Buckeye Mountain to advance to the Big Ten title game. The Wolverines will punch their ticket to the playoffs if they beat Iowa. The Hawkeyes rallied from 15 points down late in the third quarter to hand Nebraska its ninth single digit loss then slipped into the title game through the backdoor when Minnesota upset Wisconsin on Saturday. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma traded muffed punts with the Sooners’ mistake leading to the winning score for the Cowboys. With Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma eliminated from playoff contention, only Alabama remains alive among the four teams with the most playoff appearances. The Tide beat rival Auburn 24-22 in four overtimes after the Tigers failed to run out the clock late in the fourth quarter. UTSA looked more like the Coyote then the Roadrunner as their perfect season fell off the cliff thanks to an especially mean opponent.
With one week and 11 games between now and Selection Sunday, eight teams remain alive to finish in our top four. Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, and Alabama control their destinies. I suspect Georgia is a playoff lock with the committee excluding a blowout loss to Alabama. If Alabama wins, the committee may be choosing between a 13-0 Cincinnati and a 12-1 Oklahoma State. If Georgia loses, the Bulldogs would need a loss by Michigan, Oklahoma State, or Cincinnati to finish in our top four. Notre Dame is in if chalk wins minus a loss by Michigan or Oklahoma State. Baylor is in with a win and chalk wins minus a loss by Cincinnati. San Diego State can still make our top four if chalk holds minus a loss by Cincinnati. These are the simplest scenarios for these eight teams to finish in the top four. That said, there are many more combinations that could place these teams inside or outside our top four.
The FCS playoffs are down to 16 teams after first round action saw home teams go 6-2. UT Martin and Southern Illinois were the only road winners. PPS seeds Kennesaw State and Eastern Washington advanced. The Owls will visit East Tennessee State while the Eagles play at Montana in a rematch of a regular season game won by Eastern Washington on their red carpet. Remaining playoff teams are listed in blue. Teams still in contention for the Celebration Bowl are listed in red. South Carolina State has already qualified for the bowl game and awaits the winner of the SWAC title game between Jackson State and Prairie View A&M.