The latest College Football Playoff rankings are out and....not a thing changed. This was expected given that the entire AP Top Ten held serve this weekend. The West Virginia Mountaineers come in at #9 in this week’s rankings.
For the Mountaineers, this all confirms that a playoff appearance is out of the question unless some major #TeamChaos happens.
Path to the Playoffs
For West Virginia to make the playoffs, a few things need to happen. The first is that West Virginia absolutely needs to run the table and win the Big 12 Championship Game. In my opinion, the best scenario is for West Virginia to avenge its only loss to Iowa State but unless Kansas pulls the upset of the decade, Iowa State and West Virginia only have one path to a conference championship rematch and it knocks WVU out of the playoffs - WVU would have to lose to OSU this weekend.
So, for WVU they will either play Texas or Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.
The second thing that needs to happen is for Ohio State to beat Michigan and then struggle with Northwestern (or better suffering a loss). The freshest impression is the most recent one and seeing the Big Ten champ struggle to beat a mediocre Northwestern is not a good look.
Third, Notre Dame has to lose. A Notre Dame loss coupled with the lack of a conference championship would all but eliminate the Irish from the playoff conversation.
I argue that a Clemson loss in the conference championship game to Pitt, who has yet to fire their Super Death Ray at full strength, would likely knock the Tigers out of the playoffs given how awful the ACC was this year, but Clemson has dominated a ton of bad teams. Plus they’ve been in the playoffs before.
Lastly, Alabama absolutely, cannot lose. The Crimson Tide must run the table and be undefeated. If Georgia is able to gain revenge for last year’s national title game and beat Nick Saban and Tua Tagovailoa, the committee would without a doubt put the Tide in the playoffs.
New Years Six Bowl
Right now, West Virginia is set up for a fantastic bowl - either the Peach or the Sugar. The Sugar Bowl will pit the SEC Champion vs the Big 12 Champion, provided neither is in the playoffs. If West Virginia runs the table and wins the Big 12, they would play in the Sugar Bowl, most likely against the Georgia Bulldogs. If Alabama loses to Georgia and both make the playoffs, then the ‘Eers would play the Florida Gators.
If the Mountaineers are still within the top 12 rankings, they would most likely play in the Peach Bowl. Currently, if the bowl was played tonight, they would play the Syracuse Orange. In many of the bowl projections, the final selection has been the LSU Tigers.