No. 5 Texas A&M is the first team in the College Football Playoff Leaderboard.
The Aggies are 7-1 and won't play in the SEC championship game, but their path to the four-team playoffs isn't overly complicated.
Texas A&M must win its regular season finale against Tennessee on December 19th to keep the conversation going. What else do the Aggies have to do before the College Football Playoff Selection Show on December 20th?
Let's play the rest with the three key pieces:
BENDER: The Big Ten's decision to protect the Ohio state season is the right one
College Football Playoff Scenarios for Texas A&M
A Christmas miracle of Arkansas versus Alabama or LSU versus Florida this weekend would obviously work in favor of the Aggies. In this scenario, we do not expect any of these issues to occur.
So let's be more realistic:
No. 1 Alabama (10-0) must beat No. 6 Florida in the SEC championship game. That puts the Gators out of the competition with two losses. Notre Dame # 2 (11-0) must beat Clemson # 3 in the ACC championship game. That gives the tigers two losses. A No. 4 Ohio State loss would help, but it's unlikely not worth counting on.
That would give Alabama, Notre Dame, and Ohio State three spots and leave a big debate for that # 4 spot:
Who else could argue?
Texas A&M (8-1) would be the best one-loss team but would not have the advantage of attending a conference championship.
Clemson (9-2) and Florida (9-2) had two losses.
No. 7 Iowa State (9-2) or No. 11 Oklahoma (8-2) would have a conference championship.
No. 15 USC (6-0) or No. 21 Colorado (6-0) could be undefeated and have a Pac-12 championship.
No. 8 Cincinnati (9-0) would be the top-ranked group of 5 undefeated teams if they beat No. 24 Tulsa in the American Athletic Conference championship.
Would Texas A&M get in?
That's a lot to play with, but the Aggies would be a good bet to secure that last spot if that scenario unfolds. It's not that unrealistic, but it does require Notre Dame – a likely underdog in the rematch with Clemson – to deliver another surprise.
Remember, the college football playoffs have never seen a team with two losses. Clemson would have an argument, but the committee could bow to the Aggies at a loss.
That said, the loss is dire. Alabama defeated Texas A&M on October 3, 52-24. That would be the worst loss for a CFP team since Georgia in 2017. The Bulldogs lost 40-17 to Auburn in the regular season, but Georgia corrected that mistake at 28 : 7 victory in SEC championship game. The 15 one-loss teams that qualified for the CFP lost an average of 7.5 points per game.
Some other teams might consider that.
USC – a Power 5 champion with a big brand – has a lot to do in two weeks.
The argument would likely be based on Texas A&M versus Cincinnati at this point. Would the committee put an unbeaten G5 school over a one-loss team?
It's still an argument that we believe Texas A&M would win – even if the Bearcats could be the more deserving team at the time.