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Ranking the conferences by current CFP potential

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Oklahoma nabs gut-check OT win over Army (0:51)

The Sooners were tested at home, but the normally-prolific offense got a lift from the defense to overcome a missed FG at the end of regulation. (0:51)

Move over, Wisconsin.

Virginia Tech will now claim the dubious distinction of suffering the biggest upset of the season.

The top 10 teams in the Associated Press poll all won in Week 4, but that doesn't mean there weren't some results that will continue to impact the résumés of College Football Playoff contenders. Those within the selection committee meeting room have said repeatedly that they do not rank conferences -- they rank teams. It's easy to determine, though, the perceived strength of a particular conference by the number of teams it has ranked.

That doesn't bode well for the ACC, which saw two of its four ranked teams -- Virginia Tech and Boston College -- lose. So how does that impact the ACC's place in the playoff picture?

Here's a look at which conferences are in the best shape to place a team in the playoff heading into the final week of September:

1. SEC

Top contenders: Alabama, Georgia
Don't forget about: LSU, Auburn
Playoff path: If you're suffering from Alabama fatigue, don't expect a cure anytime soon. The SEC entered Week 4 with a 49 percent chance to send two teams to the playoff, and with Alabama and Georgia both winning convincingly (again) this week, the conference remains in the strongest position in the Power 5. Georgia's most difficult remaining games are Oct. 13 at LSU and Nov. 10 against Auburn -- both from the opposing West Division. If the Bulldogs can win the East and get back to the SEC championship, they could sneak into the CFP again if their only loss is to Alabama in the SEC championship. If Georgia loses before that game -- and doesn't win the SEC title -- it's unlikely the SEC would get two teams in again. What if, though, LSU's only loss is to Alabama? What if the SEC's two teams are Alabama and LSU? It's a long shot, considering LSU has the second-toughest three-game stretch (Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama) in FBS this season, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. Because of that lineup, LSU has a only 2 percent chance to reach the playoff. Auburn has already lost to LSU, so it's playing from behind in the West -- and it still has to travel to Georgia and Alabama in November. Not that the Tigers haven't stunned us with wins in those games before. Auburn needs to win out, but it's hardly the league's only option.

2. Big Ten

Top contenders: Ohio State, Penn State
Don't forget about: Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State
Playoff path: It goes through State College, Pennsylvania, where the Nittany Lions will play host to Ohio State on Saturday in what is currently the most impactful remaining regular-season game of the CFP race, according to ESPN's Leverage Index. If Ohio State wins, its chances of reaching the playoff skyrocket to 77 percent. If PSU wins, its chances jump to 61 percent -- and the Buckeyes' sink to 31 percent. The biggest difference is that Ohio State has been tested in its win against TCU, while this will be Penn State's first game against a ranked opponent. With a nonconference schedule that included wins over Appalachian State, Pittsburgh and Kent State, the Nittany Lions need to prove their playoff worth to the committee through their league schedule. There will be plenty of opportunities, as PSU also plays Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin -- all of which have bounced back from early losses. Week 4 was a much better showing for the entire league, as even Purdue snagged a win against a ranked Boston College team. Michigan earned its first league win, albeit against a beleaguered Nebraska team, and Michigan State beat IU in its first game since the loss to Arizona State. Wisconsin shook off the loss to BYU with an important West Division win at Iowa. All three of those teams (Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin) likely would have to win out and win the league to be considered by the selection committee, but with only one loss, they just can't be eliminated entirely. The winner of the Wisconsin-Iowa game has gone on to play in the Big Ten title game in each of the past four seasons. The Badgers are still a long shot for the CFP, but they can certainly help the league by giving the East Division winner a quality ranked opponent in the title game.

3. Big 12

Top contenders: Oklahoma
Don't forget about: West Virginia
Playoff path: Oklahoma's escape from Army in overtime was a start. The entire Big 12 should have exhaled with that one, as the conference entered the weekend with a 60 percent chance to place a team in the playoff -- and the Sooners accounted for 49 percent of that. With TCU and Oklahoma State both losing on Saturday, the expectations rest squarely on the shoulders of the Sooners right now. Those losses could hurt Oklahoma's strength of schedule down the stretch, too. If OU finishes as a one-loss conference champion, there are no guarantees. It could all come down to the Friday night regular-season finale at West Virginia. The Mountaineers have a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Will Grier and rank No. 6 in offensive efficiency, but they have yet to play on the road or face a ranked opponent. WVU has to survive road trips to Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma State. The good news for West Virginia is that its schedule is backloaded -- plenty of November opportunities to impress the committee. The bad news? FPI projects West Virginia to lose three of its last four (at Texas, at Oklahoma State and against OU). It's Sooners or bust until proven otherwise.

4. ACC

Top contenders: Clemson
Don't forget about: Miami
Playoff path: Virginia Tech's loss to Old Dominion on Saturday was the biggest upset of the season. Add to that Boston College's loss to Purdue and Wake Forest's loss to Notre Dame, and it was a triple-whammy for an already-struggling ACC. Both the Hokies and Eagles should drop in the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week, (but maybe 4-0 Syracuse will sneak in, just in time to travel to Clemson this weekend). Regardless, the rest of the league is weighing down Clemson's strength of schedule, and that could be a problem if the Tigers stumble along the way to an unranked team as they have done in each of the past two seasons (See: Syracuse, 2017). With the Hokies' loss to ODU, Clemson would benefit from Miami running the table and winning the Coastal Division. It would give the Tigers a formidable ranked opponent in the ACC title game to further boost their résumé -- or, if Miami were to win the ACC, give the selection committee a different option. If Miami's only loss is to LSU and the Tigers continue to be a contender in the SEC West, the Canes could have a shot. Their schedule strength would be called into question, though. Right now, BC and Virginia Tech are their only regular-season ranked opponents. Saturday's losses in the ACC could have a long-lasting impact on the entire league.

5. Pac-12

Top contenders: Stanford, Washington
Don't forget about: Oregon
Playoff path: Nov. 3. Stanford at Washington. Stanford won its first road game of the season in an overtime game against a gritty, talented, ranked Oregon team. Washington escaped Arizona State at home and avoided its second loss of the season, which would have essentially eliminated the Huskies from the playoff race. So now we wait. If Washington and Stanford can both remain relevant into November, their game should determine the winner of the Pac-12 North and the league's best shot at a top-four representative. It's going to be extremely difficult, which is why the Pac-12 is so low on this list. Washington already has a loss (to Auburn) and still has to face BYU, Oregon and Stanford. While the Huskies are favored in each of their remaining games, FPI gives Stanford only a 35.4 percent chance to win at Notre Dame on Saturday. The Cardinal can lose that game and win the Pac-12 and still have a shot, but Washington might wind up being Stanford's only opponent ranked by the committee. The Pac-12 and the ACC are in similar situations. The biggest difference is that the Pac-12's highest-ranked team, Washington, already has a loss and a tough road ahead. Undefeated Clemson should continue to coast.

6. On the bubble

Top contenders: Notre Dame
Don't forget about: BYU
Playoff path: Just keep winning. If the Irish win out, it would be extremely difficult for the selection committee to leave them out of the top four. Notre Dame's game against Stanford on Saturday will reveal how seriously to take the Irish in the playoff race. The Cardinal will be coming off a thrilling, come-from-behind, overtime win over Oregon and have solidified themselves as the top challenger to Washington in the Pac-12 North. If Notre Dame can beat Stanford and win at Virginia Tech the following week, the Irish will have survived their most difficult stretch. It doesn't help Notre Dame that the Hokies lost to Old Dominion, but winning in Blacksburg still isn't easy. As for BYU, if the Cougars win at Washington on Saturday, they will have upset two top-10 teams in Wisconsin and Washington. If they were to run the table -- in spite of the Week 2 loss to Cal -- would their résumé (which would include wins at Boise State and Utah) be strong enough to have the committee consider them for a top-four spot? It's unlikely, but it shouldn't be ruled out entirely. Sorry, UCF, but the strength of schedule problems the committee referenced last year will likely be a hangup again this year.