Ranking the 5 Best 1-Loss College Football Playoff Contenders Ahead of Week 13

By David Hayes
Georgia v Auburn
Georgia v Auburn / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After No. 13 Baylor and No. 8 Minnesota both fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in Week 12, the number of remaining undefeated teams fell to just three with two weeks left in the 2019-20 regular season.

No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson are all sitting pretty at just three wins away from a near-guaranteed CFP berth come Sunday, Dec. 15. However, that fourth and final CFP bid is shaping up to be a tight race. With that in mind, here are the five most competitive one-loss playoff contenders that could claim the last spot.

5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-1)

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The Gophers round out the top 5 on our list, but that's not to say it wasn't tight competition for this final spot among the one-loss clubs. Minnesota's overall strength of schedule has been weak, but the Gophers still have one thing that none of the other four teams on this list have – a win over a CFP-ranked, top-4 team (Week 11 against Penn State). Minnesota is fresh off a tough road loss to Iowa in Week 12, but that Penn State victory gives the Gophers the nod over other fringe contenders like Baylor and Utah. While a loss is still a loss, it's hard to strip the Gophers of much considering the last three top-3 teams to go on the road at Kinnick Stadium have all left with a loss, while top-5 teams are just 1-4 against the Hawkeyes there since 2008.

4. No. 6 Oregon Ducks (9-1)

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Despite rattling off nine straight wins to reclaim a spot in the top 10, the Oregon Ducks' season-opening loss to Auburn at AT&T Stadium in Dallas has been a damaging mark on their resume that will likely haunt them through the final CFP cut. Even if the Ducks win the conference, a 12-1 Pac-12 champion that couldn't get the better of a Tigers team that has lost to LSU, Georgia and two-loss Florida could have a tough time cracking the top 4 when all is said and done.

3. No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1)

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The Crimson Tide have been outstanding beyond their lone blemish in a five-point loss to No. 1 LSU this season, but they've done so almost entirely behind Tua Tagovailoa and his remarkable talents at QB. While Tua will be sidelined for the rest of the season, it's hard to doubt a Nick Saban program that is the only FBS team that has yet to miss a single CFP since its 2014 inception. In fact, the last two times we saw Bama finish with one loss and miss the SEC championship, Saban's Tide went on to win the national championship. Even though Alabama's defense has been uncharacteristically porous relative to recent years (allowing 17.5 PPG), weapons like Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III should be enough to help maintain the Tide's explosive offense, which is averaging 46.8 PPG (No. 4 in the country).

2. No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners (9-1)

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The Sooners were sitting a 25-point comeback win away from even qualifying for this list at one point in Oklahoma's Week 12 battle with No. 13 Baylor. Yet, star QB Jalen Hurts and the Sooners battled back from incredible adversity to reclaim control of the Big 12 with a 34-31 road win over Baylor. The Sooners get the slight nod over the Tide here, largely because of Hurts, who beat out Alabama's new starting QB, Mac Jones, while both were still in Tuscaloosa.

1. No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs (9-1)

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While this one may come as the least surprising of the list, it's hard to argue against Georgia as the best one-loss team in college football. The Bulldogs have the recruiting talent, veteran quarterback and defense to run with the best of them, despite their shocking upset loss to South Carolina at home in Week 7. Georgia may have underestimated an unranked opponent there, but the Bulldogs have played remarkably well against top-tier competition this season. UGA's record against a top-25 opponent is a perfect 3-0 in 2019, with wins over then-No. 7 Notre Dame, then-No. 6 Florida and then-No. 12 Auburn.

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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.