The College Football Playoff era has shown us that a loss isn’t fatal to a team’s title chances, because there have been one-loss teams in the playoff every season. Which one-loss team has the best shot to make it this year: LSU, Penn State, Texas or Washington?
LSU might have the hardest road left of these teams. Its next three games are all against ranked teams and two of them are against the nation’s two top squads (this Saturday vs. No. 2 Georgia and Nov. 2 vs. No. 1 Alabama). If the Tigers somehow get through that unscathed, they still have a end-of-regular season road trip to Texas A&M, where Jimbo Fisher’s team looks like an improved bunch. Accordingly, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives LSU virtually no shot of running the table, giving the Tigers a 0.3 percent chance to win out.
FPI likes Penn State’s chance the most, even though its path definitely has some bumps in it. The Nittany Lions have a three-game stretch from Oct. 27-Nov. 10 that pits them against currently 4-1 Iowa, at No. 12 Michigan and hosting No. 15 Wisconsin. Helping Penn State is that it probably has the best loss of the bunch, falling to then-No. 4 Ohio State. The Nittany Lions have a 23.1 percent chance of winning out, according to FPI, the highest of any of these four squads.
Texas’ journey isn’t quite as treacherous. It has the luxury of hosting the toughest team left on its schedule at home (No. 6 West Virginia Nov. 3). The next-toughest game out of the other five is a road trip to Lubbock to face Texas Tech, which is often a challenge, particularly if it’s a night game. If the Longorns can get through that without a blemish, the Big 12 title game will give them a rematch with perhaps West Virginia or even Oklahoma. FPI only gives the Longhorns a 2.6 percent chance to win out, though.
Washington’s loss to Auburn isn’t holding up as well as the Huskies had hoped, but they have some chances to make up for that. This weekend they go to No. 17 Oregon, and a road win there will give them a boost. Suddenly resurgent Colorado, ranked 19th in the AP poll, is up next after the Ducks. And Stanford and rival Washington State in the Apple Cup are likely to give the Huskies a challenge, too. FPI gives the Huskies a decent chance to get this done, giving them a 19.9 percent chance to win the rest of their games.
Which of these 1-loss teams has the best chance to make the CFP?
Tell us in the @CapitalOne Fan Vote!
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 8, 2018