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College Football Playoff scenarios: Week 15's impact on race

Every Thursday during the season, we've taken a look at the big game(s) during the upcoming weekend that will have the biggest impact on the playoff chase. This is the final edition of the season.

We're down to the final weekend of the regular season, and each of the top seven teams in the College Football Playoff selection committee's top 25 has at least faint playoff hopes.

Forget "faint" hopes for a minute, though, and concentrate on the top four teams: If each wins, each looks to be a playoff lock.

Here's a closer look at the six games featuring the teams realistically alive for a playoff spot; all rankings are the selection committee's.

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 16 Missouri, SEC Championship Game

The implications: Perhaps the biggest implication from this game is that if Missouri wins, it's extremely unlikely that the SEC will have a team in the playoff. On the other hand, an Alabama win means the Tide will be the No. 1 (or, at the worst, No. 2) seed and play its playoff semifinal in the Sugar Bowl.

No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 7 Arizona, Pac-12 Championship Game

The implications: Oregon's lone loss this season was to Arizona, and this contest gave the Ducks a chance for revenge (they also lost to Arizona last season) and an opportunity to lock up a playoff game in the Rose Bowl. Arizona had a long-shot chance at a playoff bid; that would have required a second win over the Ducks as well as losses by Baylor and/or TCU, Florida State and Ohio State. It's not going to happen for the Wildcats, as the Ducks rolled on Friday night, 51-13.

Iowa State at No. 3 TCU

The implications: Given that the committee moved TCU up to third in this week's rankings, it seems rather likely that the Horned Frogs nailed down a playoff spot by hammering the Cyclones, 55-3. Yes, TCU lost to Baylor and while it can be argued that Baylor belongs ahead of TCU, the committee has TCU three spots ahead of the Bears this week. Again, three spots. How in the world could the committee completely reverse field and put Baylor ahead of TCU in the final poll?

No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech, ACC Championship Game

The implications: FSU keeps winning and is the only unbeaten team in the nation, but it doesn't look as if the committee is all that impressed (the Seminoles dropped to fourth in this week's rankings). Still, it is hard to imagine (actually, it is impossible to imagine) that the Seminoles will be left out of the playoff if they beat Georgia Tech. A loss means no playoff spot -- and in that scenario, this season will have been a disappointment.

No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Wisconsin, Big Ten Championship Game

The implications: Ohio State already has overcome one huge hurdle (losing star quarterback Braxton Miller for the season to a shoulder injury in August) to get to this spot. Now the Buckeyes have to overcome another huge hurdle (losing replacement quarterback J.T. Barrett, who accounted for 45 TDs this season to set a Big Ten single-season record, to a broken ankle). Cardale Jones is the new starting quarterback, and he and the Buckeyes must win this game and hope for losses by TCU and/or Florida State. Winning this game seems more likely than either FSU or Baylor losing -- and beating the Melvin Gordon-led Badgers is far from a sure thing.

No. 9 Kansas State at No. 6 Baylor

The implications: Despite the win over TCU, Baylor -- whose only loss came to a 7-5 West Virginia team -- appears as if it will be on the outside looking in even if it beats a strong K-State team. To get into the playoff, Baylor obviously must win and have FSU and Ohio State lose. In that scenario, the Big 12 likely would have two teams in the playoff -- and who foresaw that possibility even two weeks ago?

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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