College football playoff preview: Which teams will make it to the top four?

Andrew Hart, Herald Reporter

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will soon make its final decision on the four teams most deserving of a shot at the national championship. This year marks the sixth year of the postseason format for NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Like years past, it leaves many questions about who should be in the four-team playoff. 
As of week 14, the final rankings before the official playoff field have been announced. The seeding stands with Ohio State first, LSU second, Clemson University third and University of Georgia fourth. Georgia is the only team in the top four with a loss to its record, having dropped a game to unranked South Carolina. 
Alabama had previously occupied fifth place in the ranking, landing them just outside the bubble for teams to play in the postseason. Following their loss on Nov. 30 to Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl matchup, Alabama has all but lost any chance of cracking one of the top four spots. 
Ohio State sat at the number five spot in the preseason rankings but has since been able to make a dominant case as the best team in the country. Undefeated at 12-0, the Buckeyes soundly subdued numerous top 25 teams this year, including Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan in Ann Arbor on Nov. 30. 
Not to mention, the Buckeyes are led by three Heisman Trophy candidates: Quarterback Justin Fields, Running Back J.K. Dobbins and Defensive End Chase Young. The Buckeyes face Wisconsin on Dec. 7 for the BIG 10 Championship. If Ohio State comes out on top, they will most likely occupy the top seed. If not, there may be a shift in the top four teams for the playoffs. 
Similar to Ohio State, LSU found itself outside the top four spots in the preseason rankings. Head Coach Ed Orgeron has the Tigers flowing on all cylinders, as they have taken down three very talented teams in Alabama, Auburn and Florida. The Tigers pose an explosive offense directed by their quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Joe Burrow. However, the Tigers have been unable to keep teams from reaching the end zone this season, which may pose trouble in the SEC Championship game against fourth-ranked Georgia. 


The defending national champions in Clemson sit at 12-0 but have had one of the weaker schedules of the top four playoff teams. Although the Tigers did play tenth-ranked Auburn tough in the second week of the season, they have seen scares in games against unranked UNC and 23rd ranked NC State. The Tigers are battle-tested though, as they return their phenom quarterback Trevor Lawerence behind a stifling defense. The Tigers face Virginia in the ACC Title game this Saturday. 
Georgia weathered the storm of SEC football season, taking down a top ten team in Florida along with other quality wins against ranked opponents Notre Dame and Auburn. However, one blemish on the Bulldogs’ schedule is the loss to unranked South Carolina. Not to mention, they have their biggest game of the year in the SEC Championship against LSU.
Conference championship week is always one of the best weeks of college football season, but this year is something special. Two of the top four teams in the playoffs play each other in the final week, which will more than likely affect the playoff seeding. 
Georgia lost its outstanding wide receiver George Pickens during an altercation with a player from Georgia State on Nov. 30. Ultimately, he will be suspended for the first half of the game against LSU. With that being said, if LSU loses, they will likely be safe in the playoffs given their wins this season. However, if Georgia drops to LSU, there may be a team like Utah or Oklahoma slipping into the final playoff spot. 


The official verdict will be released on Sunday, Dec. 8.