Road to Atlanta: UGA’s three routes to the playoff

Credit: Steve Hummer

Credit: Steve Hummer

As Georgia’s football team focuses on how to beat Florida for the first time in four years, let’s look ahead to how the Bulldogs might make the College Football Playoff. There are three identifiable routes:

> Winning their five remaining regular-season games and the SEC Championship game would not only put the Bulldogs in the playoff, but likely make them the No. 1 seed.

> Winning four of their five remaining regular-season games and the SEC Championship game likely would put the Bulldogs in the playoff as a one-loss conference champ.

> Sweeping their remaining regular-season games and losing the SEC Championship game narrowly to No. 1 Alabama might leave the Bulldogs with a shot at the playoff as a one-loss SEC runner-up – especially if two of the other four power conferences wind up with a two-loss champion.

First things first: Georgia needs a win over Florida for a good start with the playoff committee, which will release its initial rankings of the season next week. If the Bulldogs take care of business in Jacksonville, they figure to debut in the committee’s top four. Then it’ll be a matter of trying to stay there.

Here’s the rest of our weekly update on the road to the College Football Playoff and, ultimately, the national championship game in Atlanta.


The playoff selection committee will assemble Monday at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, 20 miles northwest of Dallas, for the start of a two-day deliberation that will culminate with the ratings release during a 7 p.m. show Tuesday on ESPN.

The committee will reconvene weekly through November and unveil new rankings each Tuesday night.

Its final rankings will be set Dec. 3, when the top four teams will be slotted into the playoff semifinals in the Rose and Sugar bowls: No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3. The No. 1 team will play in the bowl closest to its campus, meaning that if Alabama (or Georgia) is No. 1 it would play in the Sugar Bowl.

The 13 committee members this season are: Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt (committee chairman), former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, former Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower, former Central Michigan coach Herb Deromedi, Robert Morris University president Chris Howard, former NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstedt, former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, former USA Today college football reporter Steve Wieberg and former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington coach Tyrone Willingham.


Alabama remains the favorite to win the national championship, followed in order by Ohio State and Penn State, according to the latest odds from Bovada.

The online sportsbook puts Alabama’s odds of winning the championship at 5/6, Ohio State’s at 5/1 and Penn State’s at 7/1.

Next come Georgia and defending national champion Clemson, both with 10/1 odds, according to Bovada.

Meanwhile, this week gives Georgia a 39-percent chance of making the playoff, the highest of any team except Alabama (69 percent).


Five games this week with playoff implications:

No. 2 Penn State (7-0) at No. 6 Ohio State (6-1), 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Fox: The winner becomes the Big Ten East favorite and the conference's best bet to make the playoff. Penn State is coming off a rout of Michigan, while Ohio State has scored 50-plus points in four consecutive games.

No. 3 Georgia (7-0) vs. Florida (3-3) in Jacksonville, 3:30 p.m Saturday, CBS: Everything favors Georgia in this one except recent and not-so-recent series history: Florida has won three in a row against the Bulldogs and 21 of 27 since 1990.

No. 4 TCU (7-0) at No. 25 Iowa State (5-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2: The Horned Frogs are the Big 12's only unbeaten team and best playoff hope, thanks to Iowa State beating Oklahoma (then No. 3) on Oct. 7.

No. 7 Clemson (6-1) at home vs. Georgia Tech (4-2), 8 p.m. Saturday, ABC: Despite losing to Syracuse, Clemson still has a path to reach the playoff for the third consecutive season: Simply win its remaining regular-season games and the ACC Championship game. There's no margin for error.

No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1) at home vs. No. 14 N.C. State (6-1), 3:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC: A Notre Dame win keeps the Fighting Irish in the playoff picture, although they'd have to sweep their remaining regular-season games, including road tests at Miami and Stanford. N.C. State's path to playoff consideration would be as a one-loss ACC champ.


> Tuesday: College Football Playoff selection committee releases its first rankings of the season

> Nov. 7, 14, 21 and 28: Committee releases weekly updated rankings

> Dec. 3: "Selection Sunday," when the committee's final rankings set the four-team playoff bracket

> Jan. 1: Playoff semifinals in the Rose and Sugar bowls

> Jan. 8: National championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium