College Football Playoff Final Four Not Chaotic – It’s Somewhat Cut And Dried

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The same four teams remained atop the College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday night with Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and and TCU all at 11-0.

The most significant news was LSU moving to No. 5 from No. 6 at 9-2 after a 41-10 win Saturday over now 5-6 Alabama-Birmingham. Previous No. 7 USC (10-1) moved to only No. 6 despite the Trojans beating previously No. 16 UCLA, 48-45. USC was ranked No. 5 and LSU No. 6 in the Associated Press poll on Sunday.

Tennessee (9-2) fell from No. 5 to No. 10 and out of contention after a 63-38 loss at unranked South Carolina.

Despite the frequent descriptions of chaos, now it is relatively simple how the four-team playoff pairings will be set on Dec. 4. There are six legitimate candidates for the four spots – the above four along with LSU and USC.

A College Football Playoff Simple Plan

Georgia is in if it wins out, and it will likely remain in, even if it loses to LSU in the SEC championship game on Dec. 3 (4 p.m., CBS).

Ohio State could stay in as well, even if it loses to Michigan on Saturday (Noon, FOX). But maybe not. Michigan could also still have a shot should it lose to Ohio State, but probably not. Either Big Ten losing team may need some help. An LSU loss to Georgia would help for one.

LSU coach Brian Kelly and Jayden Daniels celebrate after beating Ole Miss at Tiger Stadium on October 22. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

If LSU wins at Texas A&M (4-7) Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN) and beats Georgia, LSU will get in as the SEC champion. That may not have been the scenario had Tennessee won out.

TCU is likely in if it beats Iowa State (4-7) Saturday (4 p.m., FOX) and wins the Big 12 title game on Dec. 3 (Noon, ABC).

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh Sounds Too Happy

But USC could edge a one-loss Michigan or a one-loss Ohio State for the playoff, if the Trojans win out against No. 15 Notre Dame (8-3) on Saturday (7:30 p.m., ABC) and in the Pac-12 title game on Dec. 2 (8 p.m., FOX).

College Football Playoff Most Likely Scenarios

So, the most likely final four is Georgia, the Ohio State-Michigan winner, TCU and LSU – if LSU beats Texas A&M and Georgia. If LSU loses to Georgia or maybe just to A&M, it will be Georgia, the Ohio State-Michigan winner, TCU and USC.

The question of chaos will be arguments for the Ohio State-Michigan loser getting in the final four over TCU, LSU or USC.

There will be one more CFP rankings next Tuesday night before the final call on Dec. 4 (Noon, ESPN).

The rest of Tuesday night’s top 10 was No. 7 Alabama (9-2), No. 8 Clemson (10-1), No. 9 Oregon (9-2) and No. 10 Tennessee (9-2). The second 10 had No. 11 Penn State (9-2), No. 12 Kansas State (8-3), No. 13 Washington (9-2), No. 14 Utah (8-3), No. 15 Notre Dame (8-3), No. 16 Florida State (8-3), No. 17 North Carolina (9-2), No. 18 UCLA (8-3), No. 19 Tulane (9-2) and No. 20 Ole Miss (8-3).

The bottom five were No. 21 Oregon State (8-3), No. 22 UCF (8-3), No. 23 Texas (7-4), No. 24 Cincinnati (9-2) and No. 25 Louisville (7-4).

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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  1. You make it seem easy, but it’s not….Georgia is heavily favored to beat LSU. That’s 1. Ohio-St-Michigan needs a winner…assuming it is not a close game, That’s 2….TCU and USC both have 2 tough games left. If one of them loses a game (highly probable), that’s 3. Then, you have the 4th spot. Clemson is huge favorites in their last two games. Not sure why we would think they wouldn’t be in.

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