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How the top 10 teams can make the College Football Playoff

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Saban shrugs off outside noise, says he has no internet (2:14)

Alabama coach Nick Saban says he doesn't know of any outside noise and shares his philosophy on building momentum heading into each game. (2:14)

When Syracuse shocked then-No. 17 Virginia Tech in 2016, Orange coach Dino Babers gave an electric speech in the locker room that went viral and remains a part of the program's identity -- along with its penchant for upsets.

Last season, Syracuse knocked off then-No. 2 Clemson 27-24. The Orange came close to doing it again this season, losing at Clemson 27-23 on Sept. 29.

So yes, No. 12 Syracuse can beat No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in what will be the only matchup between two top-15 teams in Week 12. Every team in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings won in Week 11, keeping the selection committee's top 10 exactly the same. Nine of those 10 teams play unranked opponents in Week 12.

If the top four teams are going to change in the committee's fourth ranking of the season, it will most likely be because of another Syracuse upset -- not that Babers can feel one brewing.

"There's been times when you get a feeling before a game that you're going to do great and you're just awful," he said. "Or you do warm-ups and you're like, 'Oh my God, we're going to get killed,' and the guys do great. It's hard to read that."

It's not hard to read the implications of this game.

Notre Dame has a 53 percent chance to win its final two games; if it does, it will be a virtual lock to reach the playoff (99 percent, according to ESPN's Playoff Predictor). If the Fighting Irish lose to Syracuse? Their chance to reach the playoff will sink to 45 percent.

Notre Dame is one of 10 teams left with at least a 1 percent chance to make the playoff. They are ranked below from highest to lowest percentage chance of finishing in the top four, according to Playoff Predictor:

1. Clemson Tigers
Toughest remaining game:
Dec.1 vs. TBD in the ACC championship game
Chance to make playoff: 95.3 percent
Chance to win it all: 35.8 percent
Best-case scenario: Finish as undefeated ACC champs. As good as Alabama is, no team is more of a lock for the playoff right now than Clemson. The Tigers have at least a 94 percent chance to win all three of their remaining games (including the ACC championship), and an 86 percent chance to enter the playoff with a 13-0 record. Even with a loss in the regular season, the Tigers would have a 75 percent chance to reach the playoff -- as long as they win the ACC title.

Worst-case scenario: An upset in the ACC championship game. Should Clemson suffer an upset to four-loss Pitt (which can clinch the Coastal Division this weekend with a victory or a Virginia loss) in the ACC title game, it would see its playoff chances sink to 51 percent.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Toughest remaining game:
Dec. 1 vs. Georgia (68.1 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 85.9 percent
Chance to win it all: 36.7 percent
Best-case scenario: Finish as undefeated SEC champs. Even if Alabama should lose to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, it would still finish in the top four with an SEC title.

Worst-case scenario: Losing to Georgia in the SEC championship game and getting into a debate with a one-loss Michigan that wins the Big Ten. The question for the committee would be if it deems Michigan and Alabama comparable enough to resort to their tiebreakers, which include strength of schedule and conference championships. Michigan would have victories over Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Big Ten West champ Northwestern (twice). Alabama would have wins over LSU, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Auburn. Their strength of record would be nearly identical. The difference could be in the Big Ten title game -- and it could work in Michigan's favor.

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Toughest remaining game:
Nov. 24 at USC (71.4 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 77.5 percent
Chance to win it all: 6.4 percent
Best-case scenario: Finish undefeated. If the Irish win their final two games, they should be a lock in the top four.

Worst-case scenario: Lose a game and have everyone else win out. According to Playoff Predictor, both Michigan and Ohio State would get in over 11-1 Notre Dame if either of them won the Big Ten. A 12-1 Big Ten champion Michigan has a 91 percent chance to get into the playoff, compared to a 57 percent chance for an 11-1 Notre Dame. Should the Buckeyes win the Big Ten, they would have a 79 percent chance to finish in the top four, compared to 54 percent for one-loss Notre Dame in this situation. If Notre Dame DOES lose, it should hope the Big 12 champion has two losses -- and that the Irish are still ranked ahead of Washington State.

4. Michigan Wolverines
Toughest remaining game:
Nov. 24 at Ohio State (55.1 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 44.7 percent
Chance to win it all: 7.6 percent
Best-case scenario: Finish as a one-loss Big Ten champion. Considering Michigan's firm grip on the No. 4 spot each of the past two weeks (and likely three straight), if the Wolverines win, they're in. Michigan can clinch the Big Ten East before the season finale in Columbus with a victory over Indiana on Saturday (96 percent chance to win) and an Ohio State loss to Maryland (there's just a 17 percent chance that actually happens, according to ESPN's Football Power Index).

Worst-case scenario: Winning the Big Ten East but then losing to Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 1. Then the Big Ten champion would be left out of the playoff for the third consecutive season.

5. Georgia Bulldogs
Toughest remaining game:
Dec. 1 vs. Alabama in the SEC championship game (31.9 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 35.9 percent
Chance to win it all: 7.4 percent
Best-case scenario: Beat Alabama to win the SEC title and finish in the top four. The only question here would be if Alabama still finished in the top four, too.

Worst-case scenario: Lose in the SEC championship and be left out. The chances of the SEC sending two teams to the playoff again this season dropped to 26 percent this week, and if Georgia loses again, it won't happen.

6. Oklahoma Sooners
Toughest remaining game:
Nov. 23 at West Virginia (51.8 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 25.9 percent
Chance to win it all: 3 percent
Best-case scenario: Beat West Virginia twice to win the Big 12, and hope that either Notre Dame loses or Northwestern wins the Big Ten -- or both. If Oklahoma, West Virginia AND Iowa State all win this week, the Sooners could clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game. If OU knocks off the Mountaineers twice in two weeks to finish as a one-loss Big 12 champ, the Sooners would undoubtedly be considered for a top-four spot. They're not getting in, though, at the expense of an undefeated Notre Dame, and there's no guarantee they would get in over the Big Ten champion -- unless it's Northwestern. Considering the current standings, Michigan would probably still hold an edge over OU if the Wolverines win the Big Ten, but it might not be as clear-cut if the Buckeyes take the title.

Worst-case scenario: Lose in the Big 12 title game.

7. Ohio State Buckeyes
Toughest remaining game:
Nov. 24 vs. Michigan (44.9 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 21.8 percent
Chance to win it all: 2.1 percent
Best-case scenario: Win the Big Ten and hope the Big 12 produces a two-loss champion. Remember, the Buckeyes have been staring up at both Oklahoma and West Virginia in the selection committee's top 25. If that continues to hold throughout the regular-season rankings, a one-loss Ohio State as champ could remain stuck behind a one-loss Big 12 champ. One of the biggest storylines to watch down the stretch will be where Ohio State would fall in the committee's ranking if it beats Michigan. If winning the Big Ten East catapults the Buckeyes ahead of the Big 12 front-runners heading into championship weekend, the outlook for Ohio State could take a sharp turn toward the playoff. Ohio State has a 30 percent chance to win out and finish 12-1; if it does, there's a 71 percent chance the Buckeyes will be in the top four.

Worst-case scenario: The Buckeyes suffer an upset at Maryland on Saturday. If OSU is looking ahead to Michigan, it could be a trap against a team trying to become bowl-eligible. If Ohio State loses and Michigan wins, the Wolverines will win the East before they even get to Columbus, and Ohio State's chances of reaching the playoff will drop from 22 percent to 1 percent, according to Playoff Predictor.

8. West Virginia Mountaineers
Toughest remaining game:
Nov. 23 vs. Oklahoma (48.2 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 11 percent
Chance to win it all: 0.8 percent
Best-case scenario: Finish as a one-loss Big 12 champ with back-to-back victories over OU and hope for an upset in the Big Ten championship game. If Oklahoma, West Virginia AND Texas all win Saturday, the Mountaineers could clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game. The Mountaineers' defense has been better than Oklahoma's, and WVU won in Austin and in Lubbock. Don't forget a nonconference Power 5 win over Tennessee. If West Virginia can beat Oklahoma State on the road Saturday and then end the regular-season with a top-10 win over OU, it's time to start taking the Mountaineers seriously in this conversation. In order to eliminate a debate against the Big Ten champ, it would help West Virginia exponentially if Northwestern won.

Worst-case scenario: Finish the season with a home loss to OU.

9. Washington State Cougars
Toughest remaining game:
Nov. 23 vs. Washington (46.9 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 1.9 percent
Chance to win it all: 0.1 percent
Best-case scenario: The Cougars win out and beat three-loss, No. 19 Utah (not four-loss, unranked ASU) in the Pac-12 championship game Nov. 30 ... and then benefit from a boatload of chaos. There would have to be some sort of combination of the following: The Big 12 champ finishes with two losses, Notre Dame loses, and there is an upset in either the ACC or Big Ten championship games (or both).

Worst-case scenario: Wazzu loses the Apple Cup, and the Pac-12 champ has at least three losses. That would easily eliminate the league entirely.

10. LSU Tigers
Toughest remaining game:
Nov. 24 at Texas A&M (42.7 percent)
Chance to make playoff: 1.1 percent
Chance to win it all: 0.1 percent
Best-case scenario: All of the angst over LSU's place in the ranking the past two weeks in spite of its two losses is likely for naught, as LSU would need sheer madness to get back into the conversation. Getting into the playoff as a two-loss conference champion is difficult enough, but getting in as a two-loss team that didn't even win its division? First, Georgia would have to lose to Georgia Tech, but then turn around and beat Alabama (you'd have a two-loss SEC champ that LSU would have defeated). Even that scenario doesn't guarantee anything, considering how Alabama manhandled LSU, 29-0 on Nov. 3. So ... add to that ... Notre Dame loses, Northwestern wins the Big Ten, Pitt wins the ACC, Utah or Arizona State could win the Pac-12. Pick your poison, but there would have to be at least two major upsets.

Worst-case scenario: LSU ends the season with a loss to the Aggies.