Expect at least one one-loss team to make the College Football Playoff.
It's the trend, not the anomaly, as six of the past eight CFP semifinalists lost during the regular season. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, there is only a 3 percent chance that there will be four or more undefeated Power 5 teams remaining when the selection committee reveals its final ranking on Dec. 4.
The 12-member committee already has some tough choices to make when it meets next week in Dallas, and where they rank the one-loss teams will start to reveal just how valid those teams' chances are. How much of a shot does Louisville really have? Is there a Power 5 conference out there with two legitimate playoff teams?
Here's a rundown of what the top five one-loss contenders are facing, ranked by their current spots in the Associated Press Top 25 poll:
No. 5 Louisville
Biggest roadblock: Nov. 17 at Houston
Best wins: Florida State, 63-20; NC State, 54-13
Path to the playoff: The most direct route for Louisville would be for Clemson to lose Saturday to Florida State, then lose in the ACC championship game. Under that scenario, the selection committee would at least debate whether Louisville is more worthy to be included among the top four -- despite the Tigers' win in the head-to-head matchup. Louisville would also have a better shot than a two-loss ACC champ from the league's weaker division. Of course, Louisville also would have to win out to be deemed "unequivocally" one of the four best teams in the country.
Statistically speaking: ESPN's FPI pegs Louisville's win probability for each remaining game at 80 percent or more, and favors the Cards on a neutral field against every team in the country except Alabama and Michigan. Louisville leads the nation in offensive efficiency, and Lamar Jackson leads the FBS in Total QBR.
Reason for skepticism: Strength of schedule and committee protocol. Louisville has defeated only two teams with records above .500 (5-2 Florida State, 4-3 NC State) and only one ranked opponent (FSU). In addition to strength of schedule, the committee is also directed to use conference championships won and head-to-head results as tiebreakers when evaluating comparable teams. Louisville doesn't stack up, which means it has to find other ways to impress the committee.
Can the ACC get two teams in? Yes. The best-case scenario here would be for Clemson to go undefeated, and to have at least another Power 5 conference champion stumble -- most likely Washington, Baylor or West Virginia. Then Louisville would be compared against other one-loss teams instead of trying to unseat an undefeated league champ.
No. 6 Ohio State
Biggest roadblock: Nov. 26 vs. Michigan
Best wins: at Oklahoma, 45-24; at Wisconsin, 30-23 OT
Path to the playoff: The Buckeyes have to win out, including their regular-season finale against Michigan, to win the East and then win the Big Ten championship game.
Statistically speaking: According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Buckeyes have a 70 percent chance to enter their matchup with Michigan without another loss. Then they have a 44 percent chance to beat the Wolverines, and with a win, would be at least a 75 percent favorite against any team from the West in a Big Ten championship game.
Reason for skepticism: The Buckeyes lost to what was an unranked Penn State team that Michigan drubbed 49-10, albeit in Ann Arbor. It's a different scenario than what Louisville is facing, as the Cards' lone loss was a close one on the road to Clemson, one of the nation's top teams. Another cause for concern is how the offense struggled up front against the Nittany Lions, who sacked J.T. Barrett six times.
Can the Big Ten get two teams in? Possibly, but it doesn't appear to be in as good of a position as the ACC now that Ohio State lost. If Michigan loses a nail-biter in Columbus, though, each could be considered a top-four team.
No. 9 Texas A&M
Biggest roadblock: Nov. 24 vs. LSU
Best wins: Sept. 17 at Auburn, 29-16; Sept. 24 vs. Arkansas, 45-24; Oct. 8 vs. Tennessee, 45-38 (2OT)
Path to the playoff: In order to win the West and play in the SEC championship game, the Aggies now have to win out and they need Alabama to lose twice in their final four games, which isn't impossible but appears improbable. Nick Saban's crew has at least a 64 percent chance to win each of its remaining games, according to the FPI, but it still has to travel to LSU on Nov. 5 and end the season with a rapidly improving Auburn team in the Iron Bowl. In order to get to the playoff, Texas A&M needs to finish the season in flawless fashion and hope the committee holds the entire SEC in high regard.
Statistically speaking: The Aggies are No. 3 in ESPN's strength of record metric, which means an average Top 25 team would have an 11 percent chance of achieving the same 6-1 record. They trail only Alabama and Clemson in that category.
Reason for skepticism: It was close for a while against Alabama, but it wasn't competitive in the end. After being outscored 20-7 in the second half, Texas A&M showed the gap that still exists between Alabama and everyone else in the West.
Can the SEC get two teams in? Yes, but it won't be easy. If the Aggies run the table in convincing fashion, with their lone loss on the road to the defending national champs, they would at least enter the committee's debate. They would probably need another conference champion to stumble along the way, though.
No. 14 Florida
Biggest roadblock: Nov. 19 at LSU
Best win: Still waiting ...
Path to the playoff: Perfection. The Gators have to win out, including an upset of Alabama in the SEC championship game. The good news for Florida is Tennessee has lost twice, so the Gators will win the East if they win out in spite of the head-to-head loss to the Vols. If Florida can miraculously win the SEC, there's no question it would be in the top four.
Statistically speaking: The odds of Florida winning the SEC are just 6 percent, according to ESPN's FPI. Because of the postponed LSU game, the Gators now end the season with back-to-back road trips to LSU and Florida State. They also still have a tough road game at Arkansas on Nov. 5. One more league loss, and Tennessee -- with a much easier remaining schedule -- wins the East.
Reason for skepticism: The aforementioned schedule. You see the best win category? It's at Vandy. You see what lies ahead? Nuff said. The Gators lost the game that mattered the most to this point, and they haven't beaten any ranked opponents, and Kentucky is the only FBS team they've played with a record over .500.
Can the SEC get two teams in? Yes, in a different scenario. What if the Gators win out and upset Bama in the SEC title game? There's a chance for the East and the West to get into the top four.
No. 17 Utah
Biggest roadblock: Saturday vs. Washington
Best wins to date: Oct. 22 at UCLA, 52-45; Sept. 23 vs. USC, 31-27
Path to the playoff: On a wing and a prayer. The first challenge is to win the South, which could come down to the regular-season finale -- a road trip to surging Colorado. If Utah survives both Washington and Colorado, it would then likely have to beat Washington a second time in the Pac-12 title game. (Washington would still win the North with a loss at Utah, as long as it wins out.) If Utah pulled that off, it would be impressive enough that it would definitely be considered by the committee for the top four.
Statistically speaking: ESPN's FPI favors both Washington and Colorado against Utah, but the Utes have won close games because of their opportunistic defense (which leads the nation with 22 takeaways) and the return of running back Joe Williams. In two games since he returned to the team, Williams has rushed for 511 yards, and he had four touchdowns against UCLA on Saturday.
Reason for skepticism: Strength of schedule. In addition to a win against a 3-4 FCS team, Utah has just one win against a Power 5 opponent with a record above .500 -- 4-3 USC. They have yet to beat a ranked opponent, let alone play one.
Can the Pac-12 get two teams in? Nope. It might not even get one.