There is often quite a bit of mystery as the college football season reaches the climactic regular-season weeks of November. However, that may not be the case in the 2018-19 season for at least three of the four teams currently in the College Football Playoff structure.
Alabama (10-0), which has been the No. 1 team in the nation since the release of the preseason college football rankings, continues to roll along in the top spot, and it would be a shocker if anything happened over the coming weeks to stop the Crimson Tide.
They look like one of the great teams in the last 25 years, and a week after shutting out LSU in one of the most anticipated games of the season, they blanked Mississippi State.
However, the Alabama offense was not as explosive as usual, and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was hit at least two times in his right knee.
"He got hit low a few times out there today," head coach Nick Saban said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "He got hit in the front of the knee and not the back, which is where his problem was. I think he's OK."
Alabama is almost guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff at this point in the season. The Tide host The Citadel and Auburn in their final two regular-season games and have a date in the SEC Championship Game with No. 5 Georgia (9-1). It would take two losses in those remaining games to knock them out of the playoff.
Week 12 AP Rankings (Released November 11)
3. Notre Dame
7. West Virginia
8. Washington State
9. Ohio State
14. Utah State
16. Penn State
18. Iowa State
22. Boston College
23. Boise State
25. Mississippi State
Clemson (10-0) passed what appeared to be a major test when the Tigers went on the road to play Boston College Saturday night in cold and semi-wintry conditions. The Southern team was not bothered and came through with an impressive 27-7 victory.
The Tigers have two home games remaining as well as a date in the ACC title game, and they are not likely to lose to Duke, South Carolina or their opponent in the conference championship game.
Notre Dame (10-0) is also undefeated, and the Fighting Irish won easily Saturday night as heavy favorites against a disappointing Florida State team. The Seminoles are nothing like the juggernaut they were in past generations, and Notre Dame disposed of them easily even though starting quarterback Ian Book missed the game with an upper-body injury.
Notre Dame will be tested Saturday against Syracuse in a game at Yankee Stadium, and the Fighting Irish will close the regular season against traditional rival USC on the road.
The only spot that is in question at this point is the No. 4 spot, which is currently occupied by Michigan. The Wolverines have not lost since dropping their opener against Notre Dame, and they are coming off an easy win at Rutgers.
A win over Indiana is likely before the Wolverines take on Ohio State in Columbus on November 24. That annual grudge match should be for the Big Ten's East Division crown, and the winner will meet Northwestern in the conference title game.
While the Wolverines are currently fourth in the CFP rankings (as well as the Associated Press), they could lose their spot to Georgia, Oklahoma or Ohio State, with West Virginia and Washington State also potentially making a case.
If Michigan wins its two remaining regular-season games as well as the conference championship game, it would take nothing less than Georgia beating Alabama in the SEC title game for the Wolverines to possibly lose their spot.
But we don't see the Bulldogs beating the Crimson Tide—or even keeping the game close—and Michigan will get its chance at Alabama.
That may not go well for the Wolverines, but they will get their opportunity.
Here's how we see the College Football Playoff at this point:
Cotton Bowl, Dec. 29: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Michigan
Orange Bowl, Dec. 29: No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
Here's how the other New Year's Six bowl games could play out:
Peach Bowl, Dec. 29: No. 15 Florida vs. No. 11 UCF
Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 West Virginia
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: No. 8 Washington State vs. No. 9 Ohio State
Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1: No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 LSU