College Football Playoff scenarios: Conference Championship weekend implications

Georgia is number one in the college football playoff
Georgia running back Daijun Edwards (30) is brought down from behind by Georgia Tech defensive lineman Zeek Biggers (88) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The College Football Playoff rankings have been shaken up numerous times over the last few weeks, but we still have one final weekend for potential chaos as the college football season enters Conference Championship weekend. 

As it stands right now, the three unbeaten teams will take the top three spots in the College Football Playoff: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, and No. 3 TCU. USC currently sits as the best one-loss team in the country at No. 4 in the rankings; however, all four teams will be in action this weekend. 

So how will this weekend’s games impact the College Football Playoff rankings? We’ll walk through the scenarios for each of the top four teams and mention the teams currently on the outside who could sneak in. You’ll also need to keep a close eye on these four conference championship games, one of which kicks off on Friday. 

  • Pac-12: No. 4 USC vs. No. 11 Utah (Friday 8 p.m., FOX) 
  • Big 12: No. 3 TCU vs. No. 10 Kansas State (Saturday, 12 p.m., ABC) 
  • SEC: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 14 LSU (Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS)
  • Big Ten: No. 2 Michigan vs. Purdue (Saturday, 8 p.m., FOX) 

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia is essentially a lot to make the College Football Playoff. The question will just be what seed they are. 

With a Win: Georgia will remain the number one seed. 

With a loss: Georgia would still make the playoffs but likely fall behind any undefeated teams, which means they could fall to third if both Michigan and TCU win. 


Michigan Wolverines

Michigan should also feel pretty good about its chances to make the playoff since Ohio State is currently 5th, and there’s just no way the committee will put Ohio State in over Michigan if they both have one loss and Michigan just dominated Ohio State last weekend. 

With a Win: Michigan will remain the number two seed, unless Georgia loses and Michigan can rise to number one.  

With a loss: Michigan would likely still make the playoffs but they could fall to third if just TCU wins or fourth if TCU and USC win. 


TCU Horned Frogs

Despite everybody betting against TCU to remain undefeated over the last few weeks, here they are. Just one win away from securing their place in the College Football Playoff. 

With a Win: TCU will remain third. They could climb to 2nd if one of Michigan/Georgia loses or likely even more to number one if both Michigan/Georgia lose since they will be the only undefeated team left. 

With a loss: TCU could be eliminated from the playoff. If USC wins, they could jump over TCU, and then it would be up to the committee to choose between 13-1 TCU and 11-1 Ohio State. However, if both TCU and USC lose, it’s possible the committee would choose to put Ohio State and 10-2 Alabama in the playoff.

Many would argue that two losses should eliminate Alabama, but they will always have the powerhouse label that affords them the benefit of the doubt. If TCU gets blown out by Kansas State, it might be enough for the committee to side with Bama. I would assume TCU still gets in but weirder things have happened. 


USC Trojans

Thanks to losses last week by both Ohio State and LSU, USC now finds itself in the driver’s seat for a playoff birth but must avenge an early season loss to Utah when they square off on Friday in the Pac 12 title game

With a Win: USC would clinch a spot in the playoff and could rise as high as third if TCU falls. Considering USC already has one loss, it would be hard to see them rise above Michigan and Georgia, even if both schools lose, since they would also only have one loss. 

With a loss: USC would likely be eliminated. A loss would give USC two losses, and it would be hard to see them make the College Football Playoff over a one-loss Ohio State team. 

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TCU has their college football playoff hopes in their own hands
TCU quarterback Max Duggan reacts to throwing touchdown pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. TCU won 62-14. (AP Photo/LM Otero)