The end of the college football regular season is quickly approaching. That means championship weekend and the selection process for the College Football Playoff are also on the horizon.
Several teams have continued to battle it out for those four exclusive Playoff spots available, and Week 14 provided more clarity on who has a legitimate chance of contending down the stretch.
That is why I decided to create a list of who I believe helped and hurt their case, at least in the eyes of the Playoff committee. There were several deserving teams this week, including No. 3 Clemson, No. 9 Iowa State and No. 10 Miami, but three stood out above the rest.
On the other hand, No. 6 Florida didn’t exactly help its cause, but the Gators didn’t see their Playoff hopes destroyed like the two schools who made the list below.
Three teams that helped their case
1. No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday was a nice bounce-back performance from Ohio State and quarterback Justin Fields. The last time the Buckeyes played, there were plenty of struggles against Indiana. They won, but Fields was oddly pedestrian. His Heisman chances took a hit as a result.
That is why the 52-10 victory over Michigan State was so important. Not only did the team dominate, Fields got back to producing big numbers. He totaled 303 yards (199 passing, 104 rushing) and four touchdowns.
This looked like a team worthy of a College Football Playoff spot.
2. No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M played a now 5-4 Auburn squad on Saturday, and the Aggies only won 31-20. So, how did they help their case for a spot in the Playoff? Well, the close call was somewhat expected, as A&M was only a 5.5-point favorite going in.
This game being on the road in a tough stadium to play in (Jordan-Hare) meant a battle was expected, but Texas A&M prevailed. More importantly, the offensive performance helped the cause. A week after struggling against LSU, the Aggies racked up 509 yards of total offense while converting 7-of-11 (63.6 percent) on third down.
Of that yardage output, 303 yards came on the ground. If Texas A&M can continue to get efficient performances from Kellen Mond, this might be a team worth considering — as long as a little chaos happens ahead of them.
3. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Everyone knew Alabama was going to skull-drag LSU. The Crimson Tide were 30-point favorites coming in, but the “how” they won matters here. The offense pretty much scored at will, and the defense continued to show signs of improvement.
Alabama needs these big victories now. That way if Florida pulls off an upset in the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide can still make a legitimate argument to get in over other contenders — as long as that game against the Gators is kept close.
Two teams that hurt their case
1. No. 13 BYU Cougars
Brutal first loss for BYU. The Cougars took a risk scheduling No. 18 Coastal Carolina on a few days notice, and it ultimately backfired with a 22-17 loss. They tried to make a late push for the win, but came up two yards shorts.
So, where do they go from here? Well, that’s somewhat of an unknown. What we do know is that BYU will no longer be a legitimate contender for a Playoff spot. Quarterback Zach Wilson will continue to be a great story with a future on the level next, though.
2. No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma was already a long-shot to make the Playoff. With two losses, the ceiling for the Sooners looks more like the Big 12 championship. But Saturday’s 27-14 win against a 2-5 Baylor squad all but solidified an “outside looking in” status.
One of those scores from Lincoln Riley’s crew didn’t come until late in the fourth quarter, too. This isn’t the same Oklahoma offense we have grown accustomed to seeing over the last several years, and while the defense has improved, it’s not enough to compensate.
It would take a series of miracles for the Sooners to get back into the conversation.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.