Oklahoma, meanwhile, has three victories against ranked opponents, defeating Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU, and five road wins against Power 5 opponents. The Sooners’ lone loss came against Iowa State (7-5). To remain in the top four, Oklahoma must win the Big 12 conference championship game by defeating TCU for a second time this season.
Clemson has defeated Auburn and has seven wins overall against Power 5 opponents. The Tigers’ lone loss came against Syracuse (4-8), but the committee most likely will overlook that loss as a momentary stutter in their schedule.
Don’t count out Alabama and Ohio State just yet. Despite the loss to Auburn, and even though the Crimson Tide will not play in a conference title game, there are scenarios where Alabama could back into the semifinal round. Ohio State proved last season that the lack of a conference championship game victory is not necessarily a hindrance to reaching the playoffs.
Alabama’s best chance would come if Auburn defeats Georgia in the SEC championship game, coupled with losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin in their respective conference title games. The Atlantic Coast Conference title game pits Clemson against Miami, and both teams have one loss. The winner of that game -- particularly Clemson -- has a good shot at making the postseason playoff.
Ohio State, with a victory against Wisconsin, could receive consideration even with two losses, which included an embarrassing 55-24 defeat to Iowa. A victory against the only Power 5 team with an undefeated record could push the Buckeyes past Alabama if a fourth berth should open up. Plus, Ohio State’s wins against ranked opponents such as Penn State and Michigan State might give the playoff committee some pause.
In The Associated Press poll released Sunday, Clemson is new No. 1, followed by Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Auburn.
Next weekend’s games will go a long way toward clearing up the playoff picture. But it could remain murky until Selection Day.