College Football Playoff picture for Week 14: Four in, two out and three to watch

Sporting News

The unveiling of the College Football Playoff pairings are just two weeks away.

All that stands between the four Playoff teams is Rivalry Week and conference championship weekend, and those games will determine who reaches the sixth installment of the Playoff. There are 10 Power 5 teams with one loss or fewer heading into that pivotal stretch.

MORE: Week 13 schedule, highlights

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Sporting News breaks down the College Football Playoff picture every week. Here is a look at the Playoff picture heading into Week 14:

College Football Playoff: Four in

1. LSU (11-0)

LSU clinched a spot in the SEC championship game with a 56-20 victory against Arkansas, and Joe Burrow continued his Heisman run with another remarkable performance (23 of 28, 327 yards, three touchdowns). The Tigers will have to hold off Ohio State for the top spot, but the combination of Texas A&M and Georgia in the final two weeks should be enough to do that. LSU still has room to lose one game and still get in, too. The other three teams in our top four can't say that with 100 percent certainty.

2. Ohio State (11-0)

The Buckeyes faced some adversity when they gave up 17 unanswered points against Penn State, but Chase Young came up with the big sack in a three-sack performance. Ohio State won 28-17, clinched its spot in the Big Ten championship and is looking for an eighth straight victory against rival Michigan in "The Game." Ohio State still has a chance to build a resume worthy of the top spot, but it needs to beat the Wolverines to get there.

3. Clemson (11-0)

The Tigers had an off week to prepare for South Carolina, a team the Tigers beat 56-35 last season before Dabo Swinney knocked down criticisms from fans that the margin wasn't by enough. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has averaged 260.2 yards with 13 passing touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four outings. Clemson has not won three in a row at South Carolina since 2003-07. There is always something for this team to chase, which seems locked in to the No. 3 spot as long as they don’t lose.

4. Georgia (10-1)

The Bulldogs are the least glamorous team in the top four, but that will not matter if the Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech and win the SEC championship. Georgia added another quality victory with a 19-13 win against Texas A&M on Saturday. The concern would be a rushing attack that averaged just 2.7 yards per carry against the Aggies. Does Georgia have enough offense to beat LSU in Atlanta? Or can a defense that has allowed 20 points or fewer in every game this season lead the way back to the Playoff?

College Football Playoff: First two out

5. Alabama (10-1)

Mac Jones passed for 275 yards and three touchdowns with an average of 27.5 yards per completion in a 66-3 blowout against Western Carolina: reps that didn’t prove much but are still valuable in the aftermath of Tua Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury. Beauty pageant season is in full effect for the Crimson Tide, which not only must win at Auburn but do so by enough points to maintain the Playoff committee's attention through conference championship week. Root for chaos in the Pac-12 in the meantime, Crimson Tide fans.

6. Utah (10-1)

It's good news, bad news for the Utes. The good news is that Utah is on pace to reach the Pac-12 championship game after a 35-7 victory against Arizona. Utah closes the season with Colorado, and it is the last remaining Pac-12 team with one loss. The bad news is Oregon lost, which takes some air out of the Pac-12 championship game. The Utes are sandwiched between Alabama, whom they might catch up to, and Oklahoma, who they might fall behind when it's all over.

MORE: What Oregon's loss means to Pac-12, Playoff races

College Football Playoff: Three to watch

7. Oklahoma (10-1)

The Sooners escaped again with a 28-24 victory against TCU. Oklahoma has won its last three games by seven points since the Kansas State loss, and Jalen Hurts is committing a few more turnovers down the stretch. This is still a prolific offense, and the games against Oklahoma State and Baylor in the Big 12 championship game give the Sooners enough light to get in the mix for the last spot with Alabama and Utah if the chalk holds.

8. Minnesota (10-1)

The Gophers kept their Big Ten championship hopes alive with a 38-22 victory against Northwestern. Tanner Morgan returned from a concussion to throw four touchdowns, and P.J. Fleck has this team in position to win the Big Ten West championship and set up a shot at Ohio State in Indianapolis. Minnesota must beat rival Wisconsin first and defend Paul Bunyan’s Axe first. TCF Stadium will be rocking again.

9. Baylor (10-1)

The Bears bounced back with a 24-10 victory against Texas that clinched a spot in the Big 12 championship game. Charlie Brewer totaled 296 yards (221 passing, 75 rushing), and Baylor will get a chance to correct its mistake against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. That might not be enough to get in the Playoff, but they can’t look that far ahead. Not with a season-ending trip to face Les Miles-led Kansas.

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