At least eight teams have arrived at their championship games with legitimate shots at reaching the College Football Playoff. The only problem for them is — there are only four spots available.
It all begins with the PAC-12 Championship Game in Las Vegas, which essentially becomes a quarterfinal for the playoff picture. The winner is virtually assured of a spot in the semifinals. Washington is undefeated but will have to beat Oregon for a second time this season to move on.
If the Ducks should win, they would likely be good enough to reach the playoff among one-loss teams. Georgia remains the undisputed No. 1 team, having won back-to-back National Championships and an SEC-record 29 straight games overall.
But old foe Alabama knows it should get in if the Crimson Tide can beat the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
"Coach Smart pointed it out that we've never been able to beat Alabama in Atlanta. So I feel like that doesn't just go for the players, that goes for the coaches as well. So I feel like we have a huge opportunity here," said Kendall Milton, Georgia's running back.
Georgia did beat Alabama in the National Championship game two years ago in Indianapolis — the team's only win over Alabama of any kind since 2007 in Tuscaloosa.
Michigan enters the weekend as the No. 2 team, hot off its win over Ohio State. The Wolverines now face underdog Iowa in the Big Ten Championship knowing they cannot look too far down the road quite yet.
"Our goal of being Big Ten East champions has been accomplished. Now we move to taking our shot at being Big Ten champions for the third straight year," said Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach.
Michigan knows a win will give Big Blue a third-straight trip to the College Football Playoff, but a loss would put Ohio State right back in the mix.
The two other teams still in the hunt include undefeated Florida State. The Seminoles probably should be in with a win over Louisville in the ACC Championship Game, but they lost their starting quarterback Jordan Travis to a leg injury and may have lost their shot at winning it all.
And one-loss Texas plays Oklahoma State in the Big-12 Championship. The Longhorns beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa back in September and depending what happens elsewhere, they too could find themselves getting the chance to play for a National Championship.
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