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College Football Week 5 takeaways, from the shifting playoff race to Georgia’s dominant defense

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Six years of the College Football Playoff have produced 24 playoff bids. Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State have combined for 17 of them. This season, then, it was fair to assume once the Big Ten rejoined the fray and announced it would play later in the fall (Oct. 24) that these four teams would be your playoff front-runners.

With Oklahoma now standing at 1-2 and having lost back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2011-12, it’s also fair to say this list is down to three.

Between the Sooners’ implosion, a few other upsets and the announced return of the Pac-12 on Nov. 7, the CFP race has shifted quite a bit in just the past two weeks. Let’s look at which groups of teams are best poised to play for the title, even if our base assumption — Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State being untouchable — ends up proven true.

Potential Pac-12 champions

For obvious reasons, no conference’s CFP odds have improved more over the past couple of weeks than the Pac-12’s. Upsets have helped, but the biggest boost came from the conference simply announcing it would play in the fall. Funny how that improves one’s situation.

Wherever you stand on the “how many games should teams have to play to be considered for the CFP” debate, the mere existence of the debate suggests the Pac-12 could be dinged a bit by the fact that, barring cancellations, its champion will have played only seven games (six regular-season games, plus the conference title game). But it’s also fair to think an unbeaten conference champion will almost certainly get in. Which Pac-12 contenders have the best odds of getting to the finish line unscathed?

Pac-12 teams with best chance of going 6-0 in the regular season, per SP+:
USC