The College Football Playoff selection committee should feel free to spend more time in its break room than in its meeting room this week.
Rivalry week offered up few surprises, instead simplifying the playoff picture for the 12-member committee, which will meet again on Monday and Tuesday in Dallas to determine its fifth of six rankings. There shouldn't be any major changes to the current top five (No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Iowa and No. 5 Michigan State), and Notre Dame and Oklahoma State were knocked out of the debate. The conference championship games are the final piece of the puzzle, though, and could still change the picture. Here's a playoff road map to help guide the teams that are still hoping to finish in the committee's final top four:
ACC: Clemson vs. North Carolina
Path to the playoff for Clemson: The Tigers simply need to beat North Carolina in the ACC title game and they're in.
Path to the playoff for North Carolina: The Tar Heels would have to upset the No. 1 team in the country in the ACC title game, and hope that either Alabama, Stanford, or both lose. Notre Dame's loss to Stanford helped UNC because it eliminated what would have been another one-loss team in contention, but Stanford could still make a case for a better résumé than North Carolina. The Tar Heels have two wins over FCS opponents, a loss to South Carolina, and no wins against teams ranked in the committee's top 25.
Big 12: Oklahoma has clinched the conference title.
Path to the playoff for Oklahoma: The Sooners should be a lock, period. This isn't last year's Big 12 playoff picture. The selection committee had OU at No. 3 in its latest rankings and it certainly didn't do anything to jeopardize its spot in the top four with a 58-23 drubbing of rival Oklahoma State on the road.
Big Ten: Michigan State vs. Iowa
Path to the playoff for Michigan State: Beat Iowa in the Big Ten title game and the Spartans are in. Even with their loss to Nebraska, the Spartans would have three wins over teams in the committee's top 25 (vs. Oregon, at Michigan and at Ohio State), and the league title.
Path to the playoff for Iowa: Beat Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and the Hawkeyes are in. No way an undefeated Big Ten champ is left out, especially when it's sitting in the No. 4 spot now.
Path to the playoff for ... Ohio State? Alabama, Clemson and Stanford would all have to lose, and the committee would have to have no doubt the Buckeyes were one of the best teams in the country in spite of only one win over a ranked opponent. You still can't write the Buckeyes off entirely with an 11-1 season. Because it's not a conference champion, Ohio State would "clearly" have to be one of the top four teams in the country, and while it was an impressive win over Michigan, the Buckeyes still lost the game that mattered most -- against Michigan State.
Pac-12: Stanford vs. USC
Path to the playoff for Stanford: Beat USC and have Clemson, Alabama or both lose their respective title games. The best-case scenario would be for Alabama to lose to Florida because the Gators haven't looked like a top-10 team in November, let alone a top-4 team. Should UNC beat Clemson, it would be a bigger debate between the Tar Heels and the Cardinal.
Path to the playoff for USC: Wait until next year. There's no way the selection committee puts a four-loss conference champion in the playoff. The biggest reason the playoff is at four teams and not eight is that the FBS commissioners didn't want to have automatic qualifiers. Winning a conference title game is important, but it's not a direct ticket.
SEC: Alabama vs. Florida
Path to the playoff for Alabama: Beat Florida in the SEC title game and the Crimson Tide are in.
Path to the playoff for Florida: Beat Alabama and say your prayers. If Florida wins the SEC -- which would be a miracle in itself considering how inept the offense has been -- the SEC probably would be left out of the playoff, even barring complete chaos. Even if Clemson, Alabama and Stanford lose, it would open the door for the committee to reconsider an 11-1 Ohio State team. If Clemson loses, a one-loss UNC team would be a better option than the two-loss Gators.