Outlining BYU Football's Path to the College Football Playoff

Casey Lundquist

I have been very hesitant to write an article like this. In my heart of hearts, I have felt like the College Football Playoff committee would do everything in their power to keep a team like BYU (who hasn't played a P5 team) out of the playoff. However, the first College Football Playoff rankings come out next week and BYU is at least in the discussion. According to ESPN's Allstate Playoff Predictor, BYU has a 25% chance to make the College Football Playoff. With those odds, I decided to outline BYU's path to 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 27% chance to win out and Florida has a 14% chance to win out.

Probability: Medium

3. Two-loss Big 12 champion

Whoever wins the Big 12 needs to have at least two losses.

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

5. Wisconsin loses one game

After two games, Wisconsin looks like a great football team. BYU needs Wisconsin to drop at least one game. With only two games on their resume, one loss would put Wisconsin out of CFP contention.

Probability: High - the Badgers 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 face their greatest challenge of the season against UCF this weekend. Every BYU fan will be a UCF fan on Saturday.

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 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. 

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