Everyone knows for a member of a Power Five conference, an undefeated record and a conference title gets you in the College Football Playoff without a doubt. However, being undefeated is not all that common, as 22 of the 36 semifinalists in the nine-year history of the College Football Playoff had one loss, and five of the nine champions were one-loss teams.
Now, the timing of that one loss is very critical. Some might say the earlier the better, and that is exactly the position a few teams find themselves in heading into October. Considering many elite programs such as Alabama, Notre Dame and LSU are already sporting a loss, there's no more room for error for these teams.
Here are five one-loss teams with the best chances of making this season's CFP.
5. Ole Miss Rebels
Having your first and potentially only loss of the season come at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide is about as good as it can get for one-loss teams. Well, that is exactly the position the Ole Miss Rebels find themselves in following their recent loss to the Tide. The Rebels get a chance to bounce right back in a season-determining matchup with the LSU Tigers this Saturday. Ole Miss also pulled the lucky straw of playing the Georgia Bulldogs later this season, which would do more than just make up for their loss to Alabama. Then all the Rebels have to do is win the SEC Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff is theirs.
4. Oregon State Beavers
The Oregon State Beavers are fresh off their first loss of the season after losing to the undefeated Washington State Cougars, 38-35. In previous years, it would be an afterthought that a team from the Pac-12 with one loss could recover and make the CFP, but given how strong the conference is in 2023, the chances are in the Beavers' favor. The Beavers have Utah this Saturday and still have to play ranked opponents in Washington and Oregon in their final two games. Add in both UCLA and Colorado, plus the Pac-12 title game, and the Beavers have a very favorable schedule ahead of them. The only negative that Oregon State could be facing is that the strength of the Pac-12 becomes the downfall, and other teams start picking up one or even two losses before playing the Beavers.
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Just like the two previous teams, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off their first loss of the 2023 season. The Irish lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the final seconds of a hard-fought battle that saw the Irish field just 10 players on defense on the Buckeyes' game-winning play. And just like the two previous teams, the Irish get a chance to redeem their loss with a ranked opponent this Saturday as Notre Dame goes on the road to take on a surprisingly undefeated Duke football team. Notre Dame then plays the USC Trojans in mid-October and the Clemson Tigers in early-November, and while their strength of schedule does not compare to Oregon State and Ole Miss, they have the higher probability of running the table for the remainder of the season.
2. LSU Tigers
The 2023 season for the LSU Tigers started the same as the 2022 season — with a loss to the Florida State Seminoles. Now, the Tigers are hoping to make another run similar to the one they made just a season ago. The 2022 Tigers could not get it done, suffering a loss in mid-October, in their season-finale and in the SEC title game. But this LSU team is improved and experienced and has four ranked games on their schedule: Ole Miss, Missouri, Alabama and Florida. If LSU gets hot, watch out.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Like their SEC counterpart, the Alabama Crimson Tide has already suffered a loss this season, but it was against the Texas Longhorns, a non-conference opponent, meaning that Alabama just has to run the table for the remainder of the season, win the SEC title game and they are in. And just like LSU, Alabama could have a chance of still making the playoff if they were to finish out the regular season without losing a game but lose in the conference title game. The one thing going for Alabama, as opposed to the other teams on this list, is that they have already picked up a huge win over a ranked opponent after defeating the Ole Miss Rebels this past Saturday.
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