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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Breaking down the College Football Playoff race

during+the+first+half+of+Arizonas+21-21+tie+to+ASU+at+Arizona+Stadium+on+Friday.+
Rebecca Marie Sasnett
during the first half of Arizona’s 21-21 tie to ASU at Arizona Stadium on Friday.

Not that long ago, the thought of Arizona football making the College Football Playoff seemed impossible.

However, since the Wildcats have No. 2 Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference Championship game this week, the scenario that seemed like one only a wacko like Ivo Shandor could see coming may actually happen: Win and they’re in.

Here’s a breakdown of the playoff contenders:

No. 1 Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC)

Alabama’s only loss was at Ole Miss. The Tide are solidly entrenched in the playoff.

Wins against CFP top-25: at No. 24 LSU, vs. No. 10 Mississippi State and vs. No. 19 Auburn

This week: No. 16 Missouri (10-2, 7-1 SEC) SEC Championship game (Atlanta)

No. 2 Oregon (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12)

The national media seems to have given the Ducks a pass for their loss to Arizona because of injuries. Aren’t injuries part of football? The Wildcats won at then-No. 17 Utah with their backup quarterback. Still, that would make a second win over Oregon this season all that more impressive for the Wildcats. No resume could match two wins over the No. 2 team away from home.

Wins against CFP top-25: vs. No. 8 Michigan State, at No. 15 UCLA, No. 23 Utah

This week: No. 7 Arizona (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) Pac-12 Championship game (Santa Clara, Calif.)

No. 3 TCU (10-1, 7-1 Big 12)

Even though TCU lost to Baylor, it is ranked ahead of the Bears. Things have gotten so confusing that the Big 12, whose football slogan is “one true champion,” will present TCU and Baylor as co-champions if they both win. Plus, honestly, TCU’s resume is pretty weak. If Arizona beats Oregon, it can certainly leapfrog the Horned Frogs.

Wins against CFP top-25: vs. No. 20 Oklahoma, vs. No. 9 Kansas State

This week: vs. Iowa State (2-9, 0-8 Big 12)

No. 4 Florida State (12-0, 8-0 ACC)

Wait, haven’t the Seminoles won 28 in a row? Very few people are impressed with their close wins over the weak ACC. Still, if they beat a solid Georgia Tech squad, it’s hard to imagine an undefeated defending national champion getting left out of a four-team playoff.

Wins against CFP top-25: vs. No. 18 Clemson, at No. 21 Louisville,

This week: No. 11 Georgia Tech (10-2, 6-2 ACC) ACC Championship Game (Charlotte, N.C.)

No. 5 Ohio State (11-1, 8-0 Big Ten)

According to the CFP Committee’s website, injuries are one of the five principles that the committee uses. Of course, expecting the committee to follow its own guidelines would be a lot to ask, as the third principle is “head-to-head competition,” and we can ask Baylor and TCU how that’s been working out. The fact is, without quarterback J. T. Barrett, the Buckeyes aren’t the same team. Plus, their resume and conference are terrible. The UA can certainly jump over them.

Wins against CFP top-25: at No. 8 Michigan State

This week: No. 13 Wisconsin (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) Big Ten Championship game (Indianapolis)

No. 6 Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12)

The Big 12 doesn’t even have the balls to name Baylor champions if they both win out; instead they will let the committee pick. If the Bears win this week, they’ll be tough to keep out of the top four.

Wins against CFP top-25: vs. No. 3 TCU, at No. 20 Oklahoma

This week: vs. No. 9 Kansas State (9-2, 7-1 Big 12)

No. 7 Arizona (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12)

A loss would drop the Ducks out, so really, the Wildcats just need to jump two teams. Arizona’s biggest problem is its nonconference schedule: UNLV (2-11), UTSA (4-8) and Nevada (7-5). However, if the Wildcats beat Oregon, their positives, like three straight wins over top-25 teams to end the season, would outweigh the negatives. The Wildcats have two Ls, but they are quality losses, at No. 15 UCLA and to No. 25 USC by a play.

Wins against CFP top-25: at No. 2 Oregon, vs. No 17 ASU and No. 23 Utah

This week: No. 2 Oregon Pac-12 Championship game (Santa Clara, Calif.)

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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