tute, muskie, et. al.,
Much of it will be more clarified as the next two weeks or so show more results. I do think the final picks will have controversy, and perhaps even two major conferences get excluded. For the most part, I thought the committee did a diligent and decent job last season. It was new and they were very careful with their assessments. Now, it's been more time for all the lobbying, positioning, complaints, and whining to be heard well in advance. But note, it was still the conferences, with Notre Dame influence of course, that chose the committee, with each respective Commissioner naming their representatives. I believe they will try again to have a defensible rationale as to whom they ultimately select, though as we know, subjectivity plays into all of this, including the use of human polls and the selected data for input into computer rankings.
Here's my take, and it could change based on near-future game results.
ACC/Clemson/(UNC?) - Clemson is undefeated and very good on both sides of the ball. They will handle Wake Forest OK. The in-state rivalry game at South Carolina may not necessarily be a cake-walk for Clemson. While USC has had a controversial and depressing season, the last several weeks they have played some tough teams close, with Florida being the last one. Odd things happen sometimes with intense in-state rivalry games. Also, Clemson with have to get by UNC in a CCG, who incidentally has only one loss, a season opener to South Carolina. If Clemson loses either of those two, they will be out of the playoffs, probably.
B12/oSu-OU - If oSu emerges from the bedlam game undefeated, the Cowboys are in the playoffs. OU has a good chance to make it, even with having only the one loss to Texas earlier in the season. That may depend on what happens elsewhere. Given what's evident in other conferences this year, not having a CCG may not be a major hindrance as to oSu or OU, specifically. It could be down to OU or ND for a #4 spot, given no more defeats between the two.
PAC12 - they look out of the mix. Stanford, down after coming off a close loss to Oregon, could be the spoiler on Notre Dame.
Independent/Notre Dame - If Notre Dame wins vs BC and Stanford, they stay high in the mix. I agree, outside of Alabama (and potentially Florida) maybe, Notre Dame may be the most favored one-loss team to get into the playoffs. As noted above, Oklahoma may be able to challenge that premise in a certain scenario as well. Notre Dame advocates (including much of the media), will argue that ND's one-loss being to #1 Clemson, that ended up being a close game in the rain, has higher merit.
SEC - Alabama, despite the early season loss to Ole Miss (ranked #25 now), has been dominating against some very good in-conference competition. Expect them to be there unless there's an upset. They do have that in-state rivalry game to play against Auburn, and then the SEC Championship game vs Florida. In UF gets past FSU, and then defeats Alabama, UF will certainly be in the conversation and make a major jump.
B1G - An undefeated Ohio State will be a given. If an undefeated Iowa wins out, I also believe they replace OSU.
The one good team, if they end up going undefeated, that may really be a victim of the system, would be Houston (polls #13 & #14 right now, and a tight win over Memphis this past weekend).
These schools, taking care of their own business, have out-right control of their own destiny with the playoffs:
If the committee picked Notre Dame over an undefeated Iowa or an undefeated oSu team, for examples, the committee will not want to hear that intense feedback. Similar may be true over a one-loss Florida team that won the SEC championship game. Not playing in a CCG should HURT Notre Dame in such situations.
Standing good chances with a little help and no more loses:
More long-shots, and would take more events to fall their way:
Could make it near the outside edge, but still out and looking in AGAIN: