Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame remain the top four teams in the nation, but the competition is hot on their heels. Oklahoma State and Iowa are both undefeated and making serious noise on the national stage. The Oklahoma Sooners have one loss, but they beat Baylor and could make a huge leap in the rankings if they defeat cross town rival Oklahoma State in the last week of the season.

 

Here are our picks for the most likely teams to reach the second annual playoff:

 

  1. Alabama

The Crimson Tide have overcome an early season stumble to become the hottest team in the nation. Two dominant victories over ranked SEC foes have propelled Alabama to a 9-1 record and pole position in the SEC West division. The season ending clash with rival Auburn and a potential conference title game versus Florida will be difficult obstacles, but Bama is up to the challenge. Over the last two weeks, they have played like the best team in the country.

 

  1. Clemson

Last week’s win over Syracuse was uninspiring, but the Tigers are undefeated and the rest of the schedule is a cakewalk. Clemson will be heavy favorites over their opponent in the ACC title game, either North Carolina or Pittsburgh. The Tigers have a dominant defense and a star quarterback in Deshaun Watson. They are a very balanced team and have proven their toughness in close wins over Notre Dame and Louisville. They are the number one ranked team in the land right now and control their own destiny.

 

 

  1. Ohio State

The Buckeyes own the longest win streak in the country but their next two games will define the defending champs’ season. This Saturday, Ohio State plays host to ninth ranked Michigan State, and they travel to Ann Arbor the following week for the latest edition of college football’s biggest rivalry against twelfth ranked Michigan. If Ohio State can add two wins over top 20 teams to its resume this late in the season, they are virtual locks for the playoff — as long as they do not lay an egg in the conference championship.

 

  1. Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish are in good position to win their remaining games and finish the year at 11-1. They will have a strong resume, but the lack of a conference title game could hurt their playoff chances. If Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State all win out, they are guaranteed playoff berths. Notre Dame could be jumped by an undefeated Oklahoma St. team, an Oklahoma team that finishes with just one loss, or Iowa if the Hawkeyes play well in their conference title game. Notre Dame is in a good position but they may need a little luck.

 

Will the Irish holdout to earn a playoff berth? Do the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes and Oklahoma State Cowboys have strong enough resumes to jump over one of the current top four? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4