Evaluating the Remaining Schedules of the College Football Playoff Contenders Ranked Ahead of Ohio State

By David Regimbal on September 19, 2019 at 10:10 am
Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney
© Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State's suddenly dominant defense has the Buckeyes looking like a legitimate playoff contender through three weeks.

A lot could change, of course. It's not uncommon for a team to look unstoppable early only to fall apart down the stretch ( hi Michigan).

But as things are currently shaking out, Ohio State looks like a team that has the horses to run with Alabama or Clemson in late December.

Getting there is the challenge.

The Buckeyes' path to their third College Football Playoff appearance isn't an easy one. They have three top-15 opponents on the schedule, highlighted by the season-finale against that squad located 180 miles north.

Let's take a look at the slates of the top six teams in the country and evaluate their roads to a potential playoff bid.

No. 6 Ohio State

Ohio State's Remaining Schedule
Week Opponent
4 Miami (Ohio)
5 @ Nebraska
6 Michigan State
7 Bye
8 @ Northwestern
9 No. 13 Wisconsin
10 Bye
11 Maryland
12 @ Rutgers
13 No. 13 Penn State
14 @ No. 11 Michigan

The Buckeyes have three remaining games against currently ranked opponents, but the schedule has several stiff challenges.

In fact, Nebraska, Michigan State, Northwestern and Maryland have all made appearances in the Top 25 at some point this year. All have stumbled but have proven to be tough outs.

The Week 9 showdown against Wisconsin looks daunting as the Badgers have won their first two games this season by a combined score of 110-0. That game will take place in Columbus, by the way, and there's a pretty great party going on in the hours leading up to the contest that you should definitely check out.

But unlike other contenders on this list, the thing that stands out about Ohio State's schedule are the final two matchups. The Buckeyes take on No. 13 Penn State a week before traveling to Michigan. 

No. 5 Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Remaining Schedule
Week Opponent
4 Bye
5 Texas Tech
6 @ Kansas
7 No. 12 Texas
8 West Virginia
9 @ Kansas State
10 Bye
11 Iowa State
12 @ Baylor
13 No. 25 TCU
14 @ Oklahoma State

Oklahoma's made it to three of the last four playoffs via the strength of superb quarterback play.

First it was Baker Mayfield, the Lincoln Riley turned things over to Texas Tech transfer Kyler Murray. The Sooners haven't skipped a beat with Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts behind center as they're averaging nearly 56 points a game through three weeks.

After easily dispatching Houston, South Dakota and UCLA, Oklahoma turns its attention to conference play, which kicks off next week against Texas Tech.

The Big 12 offers plenty of obstacles and high-scoring offenses, but just two ranked teams remain on the Sooners' slate. The Red River Showdown against Texas in Week 7 is the most important game of the season, then a Week 13 matchup against a TCU team that just squeaked into the Top 25 this will be one to watch.

LSU's Remaining Schedule
Week Opponent
4      @ Vanderbilt
5 Bye
6 Utah State
7 No. 9 Florida
8 @ Mississippi State
9 No. 8 Auburn
10 Bye
11 @ No. 2 Alabama
12 @ Ole Miss
13 Arkansas
14              No. 17 Texas A&M

No. 4 LSU

From start to finish, LSU's schedule is one of the toughest in the country.

The Tigers weren't shy when they set up this year's non-conference schedule when they hit the road for a Week 2 showdown with Texas. Quarterback Joe Burrow went nuclear against the Longhorns, throwing for 471 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-38 win that catapulted LSU above Ohio State in the AP ranking.

Three of the four ranked teams on LSU's remaining schedule, Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M, have to come to Tiger Stadium. But arguably the biggest game of the regular season could be when the LSU travels to Tuscaloosa for a matchup with No. 2 Alabama.

No. 3 Georgia

Georgia's Remaining Schedule
Week Opponent
4 No. 7 Notre Dame
5 Bye
6 @ Tennessee 
7 South Carolina
8 Kentucky
9 Bye
10 No. 9 Florida
11 Missouri
12 @ No. 8 Auburn
13 No. 17 Texas A&M
14 @ Georgia Tech

Poor Georgia.

It'll be tough sledding for the Bulldogs this year. They've been in cruise control through three weeks with easy wins over Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State.

But things get drastically more challenging moving forward, starting this week with a primetime showdown against Notre Dame.

The meat of conference play follows their tilt with the Fighting Irish, and the schedule is backloaded with games against No. 9 Florida, No. 8 Auburn and No. 17 Texas A&M, all of which come after Week 10.

If the Bulldogs somehow navigate their slate, they'll like face either No. 4 LSU or No. 2 Alabama in the SEC title game.

No. 2 Alabama

Alabama's Remaining Schedule
Week Opponent
4 Southern Mississippi
5 Ole Miss
6 Bye 
7 @ No. 17 Texas A&M
8 Tennessee
9 Akransas
10 Bye
11 No. 4 LSU
12 Mississippi State
13 Western Carolina
14 @ No. 8 Auburn

Like Georgia, Alabama has a tough league slate, but it won't be challenged by any of its non-conference opponents.

The Tide's non-league schedule included a 42-3 snoozer over Duke and upcoming matchups against Southern Mississippi and Western Carolina.

Alabama's soft as heck non-conference schedule is extremely not Nick Saban's fault, because literally everyone in the country is terrified to play the Tide.

In conference, road games against Texas A&M and the season-finale against Auburn will be challenging. The Tide gets No. 4 LSU at home, so they'll have the home-field advantage as they try to tame the Fighting Joe Burrows.

No. 1 Clemson

Clemson's Remaining Schedule
Week Opponent
4 Charlotte
5 @ North Carolina
6 Bye
7 Florida State
8 @ Louisville
9 Boston College
10 Wofford
11 @ NC State
12 Wake Forest
13 Bye
14 @ South Carolina


Scientists are actually studying Clemson's schedule in an effort to improve the soft quality of miscellaneous items like pillows, blankets, cupcakes, stuffed animals and children's pajamas.

To the Tigers' credit, they did schedule a big-time matchup against Texas A&M in Week 2, a game they won 24-10. But some of the shine from that win is dulled when you look at their other two non-conference opponents, Charlotte and something called Wofford.

The truly remarkable thing about Clemson's schedule is the absence of a single ranked team. It's not the Tigers' fault that the ACC suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks, but it's hard to imagine an easier path to the College Football Playoff.

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