Believe it or not, we've already reached week 11 of the college football season, and next month, we'll find out which four teams will get to play for a national title. Of course, that doesn't mean we're anywhere near being able to determine the playoff field. But there are some smart people calculating the odds.
The team over at FiveThirtyEighthas been putting out playoff odds based on a number of statistics, including ESPN's FPI and current College Football Playoff rankings. At this point, there are only 15 teams that have a 7% chance or higher or qualifying for the event. Here they are:
15. Michigan (7%)
Despite two losses (one of which was particularly crushing), the Wolverines technically have a shot. How? Well first off, they'd need to win out, which would include defeating Ohio State. They'd also need Ohio State to beat Michigan State so they could win the Big Ten East and play for the league title. Michigan would likely need a few more things to happen - including a number of conference champions finishing with two losses.
Unlikely? For sure. But still possible.
14. Michigan State (10%)
Michigan State's lone loss came at the hands of Nebraska on a very questionable call last week. But the Spartans still have the opportunity to notch some quality wins before the season ends. MSU still has Ohio State, and, if the Spartans can emerge victorious and win the Big Ten East, they'd get to play (most likely) Iowa in the league's title game.
A one-loss Michigan State team that's claimed the Big Ten title would be hard to pass up. But they'd likely need Clemson and/or the Big 12 champ to also have a loss to get in.
13. TCU (10%)
TCU blew a golden opportunity to take control of the Big 12 this past weekend, getting blown out by Oklahoma State in Stillwater. As such, the Horned Frogs now need a great deal of help if they want to find themselves getting a shot for the national title.
The Horned Frogs, obviously, need to beat both Baylor and Oklahoma - convincingly. But they also need the Cowboys to lose to both the Bears and the Sooners - otherwise they finish second in the league. They'd also likely need carnage around the country to get in with an 11-1 record. Remember last year?
12. Utah (11%)
Surprised to see Utah, with an 8-1 record and a clear path to the Pac-12 title game, so low? We were too. But it makes sense. Utah's lone loss - which came to USC by 18 points - could be enough to knock them out.
The Utes still have Arizona, UCLA and Colorado on their regular season schedule. All three are winnable, for sure. But if Utah does win the Pac-12 South, it'll then most likely get Stanford in the league's title game. That's a tough game. But even if they win that - here's the kicker.
What if Utah wins the Pac-12 and finishes with a 12-1 record, but winds up being compared to an 11-1 Notre Dame team that beat USC? What would the committee do?
11. LSU (12%)
LSU no longer controls its own destiny in the SEC West after its loss to Alabama last week. But beyond that, the Tigers didn't look to be on the same level, talent-wise, as the Tide. So if they're going to somehow represent the league in the College Football Playoff, they're going to have to look like a different team down the stretch.
The Tigers need Alabama to lose to either Mississippi State or Auburn to have a chance to play in the league's title game. In the meantime, LSU needs to down Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Would an 11-1 Tigers team that got crushed by Alabama but won the SEC get in? It's debatable.
10. Florida (17%)
Florida hasn't looked quite as efficient on offense under the command of Treon Harris, but the Gators still have a clear path to the playoff. UF has actually already clinched the SEC East after suffering just one league loss (to LSU.) Still, there are two major hurdles.
The Gators still have to play in-state rival Florida State in their final regular season game of the year. And after that, they'll get the SEC West winner - likely Alabama - in the conference championship. Win them both? They're in. Lose one? No way.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Florida has a 38% chance of winning the SEC. Considering they're already going to represent the East, it's obvious that they aren't going to be favored to win the league's title game.
9. Oklahoma (17%)
Oklahoma lost a game - and it was to its main rival - but the timing is certainly working in its favor. The Sooners can still win the Big 12 if they win out. That'll be easier said than done, however.
OU still has Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State - a murderer's row of offensively-gifted opponents - left on its schedule. Sweeping all three contests would leave them with an 11-1 record, a Big 12 title and a loss to a marginal Texas squad. The committee would have an interesting decision to make.
Since the loss to the Longhorns, Oklahoma has scored over 50 points per game. That being said, those contests were against Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State.
Would an 11-1 Oklahoma get in?
8. Iowa (22%)
Iowa is by far the most intriguing team left in the playoff hunt. The Hawkeyes, while consistent, aren't flashy, and don't have any marquee wins on their resume. But they haven't lost, and that matters. Iowa will also have the opportunity to prove its worthiness in early December.
Iowa is 9-0, with a 5-0 mark in the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes still have Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska left on their schedule. Should they finish the regular season 12-0, they'll essentially have a one-game playoff with (most likely) Ohio State to reach the promised land. The Hawkeyes wouldn't be anywhere close to favored, but hey, we've seen crazier things happen.
A 13-0 Iowa squad would be part of the playoff. 12-1 would not get it done.
7. Oklahoma State (23%)
Oklahoma State is right where TCU was supposed to be - sporting a 9-0 record with major contests against Oklahoma and Baylor remaining on a path to the playoff. But it was the Cowboys, not the Horned Frogs, who put on the offensive show last week in Stillwater.
OSU's situation is pretty clear. The Cowboys still have Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma left on their schedule. If they win out, they'll be in the playoff - no question. If they slip up and lose just once? It'll probably cost them both the Big 12 title and a playoff spot.
There is no room for error in the Big 12, given the league's lack of a title game. Whichever team finishes in first will likely need to be undefeated to get in.
6. Stanford (28%)
Stanford, despite a strange loss to Northwestern in the opening weekend of college football, looks to be the class of the Pac-12. The big question? Will that be enough to get the Cardinal into the playoff? FiveThirtyEight has the Pac-12 as the power five league with the lowest odds of securing a playoff participant.
Stanford, at 8-1, actually has four tough games left though. The Cardinal gets Oregon at home this week. Next Saturday, Cal comes to town. And in the final week of the regular season, Stanford plays No. 4 Notre Dame. That contest could be a de facto play-in game for the playoff.
If they can win all of those, they'll be 11-1 going into a showdown with, likely, Utah for the Pac-12 title. A win and they're in - there's almost no question.
5. Notre Dame (30%)
Notre Dame, despite a scheduling deal with the ACC, isn't officially part of any conference and therefore won't have a potential 13th game to add to its slate. But it's hard to see an 11-1 Fighting Irish squad with a number of high-profile wins and a loss to No. 1 Clemson being left out.
Notre Dame has wins over Texas, Virginia, Georgia Tech, UMass, Navy, Temple, USC and Pitt. Two of its next three opponents - Boston College and Wake Forest - should be easy victories. Stanford is a different story.
As mentioned previously, Notre Dame vs. Stanford, assuming both have one loss at the time of the contest, is basically a play-in game. If the Irish can prevail, they'll likely sneak into the third of fourth slot of the playoff. A loss, however, would put them out.
4. Baylor (31%)
FiveThirtyEight clearly believes that Baylor, not Oklahoma State, is actually the class of the Big 12. The Bears have the highest percentage chance of winning the league, even with freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham running the show. They'll certainly have earned their way if they pull it off.
Baylor still has Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas left on its schedule. A loss to any of them - except maybe the Longhorns - would cost them a Big 12 title. But they'll need to finish 12-0 to make the College Football Playoff.
Baylor actually has the same odds as Alabama (12%) to win the national title. But they've got some serious work to do before it's even a realistic possibility.
3. Alabama (43%)
Before the season, we told you that Alabama had the hardest schedule - on paper - in 2015. The fact that the Crimson Tide is 8-1 is pretty amazing. So far, the playoff committee has rewarded them for it. We'll see if that continues.
Alabama, after its big win over LSU and Ole Miss' rough loss to Arkansas, now controls its own fate in the SEC West. The Tide still have Mississippi State, Auburn and, if they can win those two contests, Florida in the SEC championship game. A 12-1 Alabama team gets in the playoff - and might even be named the overall No. 1 seed.
Alabama does not, however, have any room for a second loss. The Tide, like most other teams, needs to win out.
2. Ohio State (56%)
Ohio State - much like many of the Big 12 contenders - has a backloaded schedule. That means that while the Buckeyes are still the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten and play for a national title, they're going to have to earn it down the stretch.
The Buckeyes still have Michigan State and a revamped Michigan squad left on their regular season schedule. If they can win the Big Ten East, they'll likely get Iowa in the league's title game. While Ohio State would be favored in each of those contests, none of them will be easy wins.
Ohio State, with J.T. Barrett at the helm, has looked like a team capable of winning the national championship. But the Bucks don't have the best odds of either playing in the playoff or winning it - instead, it's...
1. Clemson (67%)
Clemson, at 67%, has the best odds of reaching the College Football Playoff. The Tigers also have the best odds (17%) of winning it. Why? Well, one - they've looked dominant. Two - their route is the easiest.
Clemson still has four games remaining, but they're against Syracuse, Wake Forest, South Carolina and whichever team wins the ACC Coastal. Comparatively, that isn't nearly as difficult as what some other teams have to deal with. Clemson's two big victories - over Notre Dame and Florida State - are marquee enough to suffice a spot in the playoff.
Plus, Clemson might have the best quarterback in the country in Deshaun Watson, along with one of the country's best defenses. They're going to be a tough out.
Will these odds hold? Or will there be carnage down the stretch? We'll find out.