Iowa State Becomes An Unexpected CFB Playoff Contender

The committee has spoken. The Big 12 isn't out of the Playoff hunt yet.

Iowa State checked in at No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night. It is somewhat shocking to see them ranked that high considering they have two losses, including one to a Sun Belt team.

However, that Sun Belt team is a 9-1 Louisiana squad that checks in at No. 19 in those same rankings. The other loss? Oklahoma State (7-3), which is also a top-25 team.

Regardless of how you view Matt Campbell's Cyclones, they are squarely in the mix with championship weekend next on the docket. And since their opponent is No. 10 Oklahoma, we actually could see Iowa State in the Playoff.

What would have to happen, though? Well, first, they'd have to defeat Oklahoma again. They beat them 37-30 in early October, but the Sooners have since won six straight.

Several other things from other teams in other conferences would help their cause though.

Ohio State plays No. 14 Northwestern this week. If the Wildcats can pull an upset, then the Buckeyes would certainly be eliminated. Unfortunately for anyone pulling for that to happen, Ohio State is currently a 20.5-point favorite.

But it's possible.

Texas A&M didn't make the SEC Championship Game, but the Aggies will still be playing this weekend. They would have to lose too, but once again, A&M is a double-digit favorite (14 points) over Tennessee.

It's 2020 ... anything can happen, right?

If Notre Dame can beat Clemson for a second time, the 9-2 Tigers and the 9-2 Iowa State would probably be the only two teams in contention for that last spot. No. 7 Florida could get involved with a win against top-ranked Alabama, but even a SEC championship might not save the Gators at this point.

To make the Playoff, Iowa State desperately needs both two-touchdown-plus dogs (Northwestern and Tennessee) to pull upsets. If that happens, the Cyclones would be in position, as would the Gators.

It's amazing what Campbell and company have been able to achieve this season, but they still have a steep path to one of those final four spots.

We have come a long way since the Big 12 went 0-3 against the Sun Belt to start the season.

Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.