The list of legitimate College Football Playoff contenders is down to nine.
Top-ranked LSU, SEC East champion Georgia and one-loss Alabama are still alive out of the SEC—the conference with the best, and possibly only, chance to put two programs in the final four.
Ohio State and Minnesota both have a playoff path set for them out of the Big Ten, while Oklahoma and Baylor have a shot from the Big 12. Clemson and Utah are the lone final-four hopes for the ACC and Pac-12.
LSU, Ohio State and Clemson are the favorites to earn the top three berths, while the No. 4 seed could come down to Pac-12 champion, Alabama and the Big 12 winner.
College Football Playoff Projections
Peach Bowl (December 28): No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Utah
Fiesta Bowl (December 28): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
LSU, Ohio State and Clemson have been the three most dominant teams all season. All three have two more hurdles to clear before they solidify their playoff positions.
LSU needs to beat Texas A&M in Week 14 before facing Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. While the Bulldogs will be a tough foe, the Tigers' 4-0 record versus Top 10 programs gives them an advantage going into Atlanta.
Georgia's second-best scoring defense could slow down LSU for stretches, but Ed Orgeron's side could overwhelm it on a few drives with the No. 2 passer and No. 3 wide receiver in the FBS. Joe Burrow is one of two quarterbacks with 4,000 passing yards and JaMarr Chase is one of four players with over 1,200 receiving yards.
LSU's defense is the worst of the top three teams, but it will be going up against a Bulldogs offense that has not hit 30 points since October 5. If Kirby Smart's team can't keep up with the SEC West champion, LSU could land the No. 1 overall seed with five Top 10 wins on its resume.
Ohio State has been in a different class than the other Big Ten teams. Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins are one of the best one-two punches in the nation, and the quarterback has ample options to work with in the passing game.
The Buckeyes have won every game by double digits, and after their victory over Penn State, they received nine first-place votes in the AP Top 25.
If they beat Michigan and either Minnesota or Wisconsin, their No. 1 vote total will be worth watching to see how pollsters compare a similar resume to LSU.
If Ryan Day's team wins both contests by 10 points or more, its top-ranked scoring offense might boost it into the No. 1 seed. However, the Buckeyes could fall just short of the top spot since two of their ranked victories would be over Top 10 squads.
Clemson's weak ACC schedule will prevent it from climbing into the top two, but it will still be a dangerous playoff foe. The reigning champion ranks fourth in scoring offense and has racked up at least 45 points in the last six games.
Even though South Carolina handed Georgia its only loss, it should not be seen as a threat to end Clemson's unbeaten run. The Gamecocks are 1-4 since knocking off the Bulldogs, with its only victory coming against Vanderbilt.
Virginia Tech, which can clinch the ACC Coastal with a win over Virginia, will be the tougher opponent for Dabo Swinney's side. Since the start of October, the Hokies have one loss, which was a one-point shortcoming at Notre Dame, and their defense earned back-to-back shutouts versus Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh.
Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins and others could overwhelm the Virginia Tech defense, but do not expect a 50-spot in the ACC Championship Game.
If Clemson finishes 13-0, it would have a pair of Top 25 wins over Texas A&M and Virginia Tech in a resume that does not stack up with LSU and Ohio State.
Utah has been as dominant as the top three programs, as it held five of its last seven opponents to single digits. During that span, Tyler Huntley has six 200-yard passing games and Zack Moss owns five 100-yard rushing performances.
If the Utes dominate Colorado and Oregon in a similar fashion, their case for a playoff spot could be stronger than any other competitors. Kyle Whittingham's team would have an impressive run that passes the eye test, a Pac-12 title and two Top 25 wins.
Alabama would be in possession of a single ranked victory, but some supporters could point out that its only defeat came to LSU. The Crimson Tide's best win over four-loss Auburn may not be good enough in comparison to Utah's potential victory over two-loss Oregon.
Additionally, Utah has been the more dominant side for a longer stretch of games, which could aid its case when it comes to the eye test.
If Georgia, Minnesota and Baylor are eliminated from playoff contention with conference championship-game losses, Oklahoma stands as the only other candidate for the No. 4 seed.
The Sooners moved up to No. 7 in Sunday's AP poll and could end up there in Tuesday's playoff rankings after Oregon and Penn State lost.
However, Oklahoma has not looked as impressive as some of the others by struggling to defeat TCU and Iowa State at home. That, as well as its loss to Kansas State (now 7-4), may cost Lincoln Riley's team in the discussion for the No. 4 seed.
That would be considered the worst defeat suffered between them, Utah and Alabama since the Utes fell to USC, who is now 8-4 and appeared in last week's playoff ranking.
New Year's Six Projections
Cotton Bowl (December 28): Memphis vs. Florida
Orange Bowl (December 30): Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
Rose Bowl (January 1): Oregon vs. Minnesota
Sugar Bowl (January 1): Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Bahamas Bowl (December 20): Charlotte vs. Toledo
Frisco Bowl (December 20): Temple vs. Southern Miss
New Mexico Bowl (December 21): Florida International vs. San Diego State
Cure Bowl (December 21): Tulane vs. Arkansas State
Boca Raton Bowl (December 21): Liberty vs. Miami (Ohio)
Camellia Bowl (December 21): Central Michigan vs. Georgia State
Las Vegas Bowl (December 21): Washington State vs. Boise State
New Orleans Bowl (December 21): Marshall vs. Appalachian State
Gasparilla Bowl (December 23): SMU vs. Western Kentucky
Hawaii Bowl (December 24): BYU vs. Hawaii
Independence Bowl (December 26): Florida State vs. Louisiana Tech
QuickLane Bowl (December 26): Michigan State vs. North Carolina
Military Bowl (December 27): Miami vs. Navy
Pinstripe Bowl (December 27): Pittsburgh vs. Indiana
Texas Bowl (December 27): Iowa State vs. Missouri
Holiday Bowl (December 27): Iowa vs. Washington
Cheez-It Bowl (December 27): Kansas State vs. Wyoming
Camping World Bowl (December 28): Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State
First Responder Bowl (December 30): TCU vs. Florida Atlantic
Music City Bowl (December 30): Virginia vs. Kentucky
Redbox Bowl (December 30): Illinois vs. Arizona State
Belk Bowl (December 31): Louisville vs. Mississippi State
Sun Bowl (December 31): Wake Forest vs. California
Liberty Bowl (December 31): Texas vs. Cincinnati
Arizona Bowl (December 31): Nevada vs. Georgia Southern
Alamo Bowl (December 31): Baylor vs. USC
Citrus Bowl (January 1): Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Outback Bowl (January 1): Penn State vs. Texas A&M
Birmingham Bowl (January 2): UAB vs. UCF
Gator Bowl (January 2): Michigan vs. Tennessee
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (January 3): Eastern Michigan vs. Utah State
Armed Forces Bowl (January 4): Buffalo vs. Air Force
LendingTree Bowl (January 6): Western Michigan vs. Louisiana
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Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.