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An Updated Look at BYU Football's Path to the College Football Playoff

A look at everything that would need to happen for BYU to make the College Football Playoff.

For a third consecutive week, BYU did not receive a lot of help from the teams ranked above them in the AP poll. Following yesterday's games, ESPN updated BYU's chances to make the College Football Playoff. BYU's odds of making the College Football Playoff dropped from 25.1% to 14.1%. Earlier today, we talked about the games that helped BYU's CFP chances and the games that hurt BYU's CFP on Saturday. You can read that article here.


After 13 weeks of college football, these are the things that need to happen for BYU to make the College Football Playoff:

1. Clemson loses one more game OR Notre Dame loses two more games

BYU's path to the CFP could be blocked right away if a one-loss Clemson team beats an undefeated Notre Dame in the ACC championship game. If Clemson wins the ACC title then they will qualify for the CFP and a one-loss Notre Dame could also qualify for the CFP leaving BYU on the outside looking in.

It's worth noting that Notre Dame still has to beat North Carolina and Wake Forest. If the Fighting Irish lose one of those games, then a loss against Clemson in the ACC championship would push them out of CFP contention.

Probability: Medium

2. One SEC team in the playoff

For BYU to make the CFP, only one SEC team can make the playoff. Two things need to happen if only one SEC team is going to make the playoff:

  1. Florida needs to lose to Alabama in the SEC championship game
  2. Texas A&M needs to lose another game

According to the ESPN College Football Power Index, Texas A&M has a 29% chance to win out and Florida has an 11% chance to win out.

Probability: Medium

3. Two-loss Big 12 champion

Whoever wins the Big 12 needs to have at least two losses. Iowa State is the last Big 12 team standing with one loss.

Probability: High

4. One-loss PAC-12 champion

Whoever wins the PAC-12 needs to have at least at least one loss. Or the PAC-12 champion needs to have a slim resume - an undefeated but incomplete record due to COVID-19 cancellations.

Probability: High - Oregon & USC look vulnerable this year.

5. Northwestern loses one game

Northwestern is coming off an upset victory over Wisconsin. The Wildcats are 5-0 and their remaining schedule includes Michigan State, Minnesota, and Illinois.

Probability: High - Northwestern would have to beat Ohio State (most likely) in the Big Ten championship game.

6. Cincinnati loses one game

Cincinnati has looked very good this season - the Bearcats passed their toughest test of the season on Saturday with a win over UCF on the road. Tulsa is the only challenge remaining on Cincinnati's schedule.

Probability: Low

7. No BYU Covid-19 outbreak before San Diego State

If BYU is going to qualify for the CFP, they need to beat San Diego State. The 2020 college football season is about more than x's and o's, it is also about which team can field a healthy roster on game day. BYU needs to remain vigilant with their Covid-19 protocols.

Probability: High - BYU has done a good job managing outbreaks this season.

A lot of dominos need to fall for BYU to qualify for the CFP. Nonetheless, there is at least a slim chance for BYU to sneak into the playoff. For those fans that haven't blocked the 2017 season from their memory, that is a pretty remarkable accomplishment.