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Who is Still Alive in the College Football Playoff Hunt?

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We’ve officially reached the halfway point of the 2019 college football season and the road to the playoff is now clear.

There only 12 teams left that have a realistic shot at the playoff, but some have an easier road than others. There are a lot of games still to be played, but here is who is still alive in the playoff hunt.

Alabama:

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The Crimson Tide are once again looking like a virtual lock to make the playoff. Tua Tagovailoa is having another Heisman caliber campaign, they boast what might be the best WR room in the nation, and the defense is still freakishly athletic. Not to mention they still have Nick Saban as their head coach. They have serious competition, but the Crimson Tide should still be the favorites to win the SEC.

 LSU:

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A lot of college football enthusiasts (myself included) thought LSU would be great this year, but I don’t think anyone thought they’d look this dominant. Joe Burrow has been the most impressive quarterback in the nation, which says a lot given the large pool of elite talent at the position in 2019. The defense hasn’t been perfect, but they clamped down late against their two biggest opponents of the season thus far (Texas and Florida). They already have the strongest resume in the country and they still have to play Auburn and Alabama. The Tigers might be able to get in even with a loss.

Auburn:

It is highly unlikely that Auburn gets into the playoff after their crushing loss to Florida, but technically speaking they’re still alive. If they win out, their resume would include wins over Alabama, LSU, and Georgia/Florida in the SEC championship. That resume couldn’t possibly be left out of the playoff. It would take a miracle for even one of those three things to happen, however, so don’t expect to see Auburn go farther than a New Year’s Six Bowl. 

Georgia:

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The Georgia Bulldogs are in the same position as Auburn. Their crushing home loss to South Carolina makes a playoff berth near impossible, but not out of the question if they win out and claim the SEC championship. Jake Fromm and co. don’t look right at the moment, but all it takes is for Kirby Smart to push the right buttons for the second half of the schedule. 

Florida:

I sound like a broken record at this point, but Florida is in the same position as Auburn and Georgia. Their margin for error is nonexistent after their loss to LSU, but if they win out and claim the SEC then they couldn’t be left out of the playoff.

Ohio State:

The Buckeyes have looked like the most dominant team in the country thus far. They might not have a signature win on their resume, but they’ve completely manhandled everyone they’ve played. Justin Fields and the offense have been explosive while the defense looks like the dominant Buckeyes defense from their previous playoff appearances. Urban Meyer might be gone, but Ohio State should still be the favorite to win the Big Ten. 

Penn State:

The Nittany Lions have a brutal schedule ahead of them, but they’re 6-0 and have looked unbeatable when they’re at their best. The 2019 defense is far-and-away the most athletic they’ve had in the James Franklin era and quarterback Sean Clifford has done a solid job of replacing Trace McSorley thus far. They still have Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Ohio State on their schedule (the latter three all on the road) but if Penn State wins out and claims the Big Ten, it would be impossible to leave them out of the playoff.

Michigan:

The Wolverines playoff hopes are on life support, but statistically speaking they’re not dead in the water just yet. They would have to win out and claim the Big Ten titles, which would mean wins against Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, but Jim Harbaugh’s team isn’t finished just yet.

 Wisconsin:  

The Badgers have been the surprise team of the Big Ten thus far. Wisconsin has had a lot of recent success, but many predicted the Big Ten West would be a wide-open race. Instead, the Badgers have far-and-away been the best team in the division thanks to what might be the country’s best defense. They have to play Ohio State in the regular season, but if they claim the Big Ten title then they have to be put in the playoff.

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma’s offense might not be the powerhouse it once was, but it is still very efficient and now has a competent defense to back it up. Given the weak status of the Big 12 this year, they likely need to have a perfect season to get in, but Oklahoma will still be relevant when the playoff comes around.

Clemson:

The 2019 ACC is so bad that its second-best team is probably Clemson’s backups. The Tigers should easily run away with the ACC championship and find themselves back in the playoff for the fifth consecutive season. Given how weak the ACC is, however, even a single loss might derail their season.

Oregon:

I find it difficult to imagine that a Pac 12 team will finish among the top four teams in the country, but for the sake of parity, I guess it is still possible Oregon could sneak in. If they dominate the rest of their opponents, claim the Pac 12 championship, AND all-out chaos ensues in the other conferences, then theoretically it is still possible for the Ducks to make a run at the championship.

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