Bowl projections: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma set for College Football Playoff

Erick Smith
USA TODAY

Let's start with the easy part. Alabama is in. Clemson is in. Notre Dame is in. Those are the top three seeds.

Now for the hard part. Who is No. 4?

There's three possibilities: Big 12 champion Oklahoma, Big Ten champion Ohio State and Georgia. 

The Sooners avenged their only loss of the season Saturday by beating Texas for their fourth conference title in a row. Their maligned defense was shaky at times but also made some key plays down the stretch. 

The Buckeyes won convincingly against Northwestern, breaking open a close game with two late scores.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley holds up the championship trophy after the Sooners defeated Texas to win their fourth consecutive Big 12 championship.

The Bulldogs had their best game of the season Saturday in a loss to Alabama. It was a classic, but also their second loss of the season.

So where does the committee go? Their hand appeared to be tipped last week when Oklahoma was ahead of Ohio State. Nothing about the performances by the Sooners or Buckeyes would seem to indicate a switch. It is possible the Big Ten title could be valued more than the Big 12 championship. Yet, there is also the matter of Ohio State's 29-point loss to Purdue.

Georgia was outstanding for three quarters before falling apart in the fourth quarter. But while the eye test from Saturday might say the Bulldogs are one of the best four teams, the resume does not. More importantly, they fall short in two of the key criteria used by the committee - record and conference championship.

It's close. All three teams will be on pins and needles when the field is announced. Only one will be happy. And the signs point to it being Oklahoma in the end.

A reminder: Some conferences may not fulfill their bowl allotment. Asterisks denote a replacement pick. Teams in bold have confirmed destinations.