The first batch of CFP rankings are out, and that means the most wonderful time of year is drawing near. No, we aren’t talking about Christmas, but rather the time to haggle out the last spot or two in the CFP picture.

You know the routine. A couple of clear winners will emerge (whoever wins the SEC and the Big Ten, most likely), and a couple of other teams that are good, but maybe not that good, will follow. Which teams that have already stumbled might make the CFP?

We’ll break down the likely suspects on which one-loss teams have the best path to the CFP.

No. 7 Penn State

Ranked opponents left: at No. 24 Michigan State, potential Big Ten Championship Game.

Playoff case: Did the Nittany Lions do themselves a favor by losing to Ohio State? In the short term, no. In the long term, maybe. Assuming Penn State wins out (and only Michigan State on the road has legitimate upset potential), they don’t have to worry about running into Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, and they can make their case with arguably (see Notre Dame below) the best loss of the bunch, a one-point loss at potential Big Ten champ Ohio State. There would be a certain symmetry to a CFP field of the winners and losers of Alabama and Georgia, and Ohio State and Penn State.

No. 6 Ohio State

Ranked opponents left: vs. No. 24 Michigan State, potential Big Ten Championship Game.

Playoff case: It’s a fairly smooth path to winning the Big Ten, as Ohio State’s two most dangerous likely opponents are Michigan State at home and Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Oklahoma isn’t an embarrassing loss (though it was by 15 at home), and the fact that it came in Week 2 probably helps the Buckeyes. What would make things interesting is a regular-season loss, say, to Michigan. Would a two-loss OSU team get in over a one-loss Penn State team that doesn’t win the Big Ten? Probably not.

No. 3 Notre Dame

Ranked opponents left: at No. 10 Miami, vs. No. 21 Stanford

Playoff case: A one-point loss to Georgia in Week 2 doesn’t hurt the old resume. The Irish are playing some outstanding football, and will still have a chance to make up some style points in their Nov. 11 game at Miami.

Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Honestly, all four November opponents, with a combined current record of 23-7, are far from chopped liver. What will hurt Notre Dame is the absence of a conference championship game. While some one-loss conference champs can gain ground, the Irish are stuck at home watching. Still, that cuts both ways, as no upset in the conference title game will befall the Irish. If they can survive November, they’re a good pick.

No. 4 Clemson

Ranked opponents left: at No. 20 N.C. State, potential ACC Championship Game.

Playoff case: The Tigers are No. 4 in the CFP rankings, but don’t have a great back end of their schedule. They have to win at N.C. State this week, and would presumably face Miami (or get Round 2 with Virginia Tech) in the ACC title game. The Tigers will be hurt by the loss at Syracuse, and might need other one-loss teams to bumble and stumble to feel safe about returning to the Playoff. It could be worse for Clemson, because it could be …

No. 5 Oklahoma

Ranked opponents left: at No. 11 Oklahoma State, vs. No. 8 TCU, potential Big 12 Championship Game.

Playoff case: The Sooners are ranked No. 5 now, but they have a lot of work cut out to make the CFP. First, they have to beat Oklahoma State on the road (in which OK State is a mild favorite, and the ESPN Football Power Index sees this matchup as a 50-50 game). Next, they have to survive TCU at home (FPI feels better about this, but still gives TCU about a 1 in 3 shot to win).

Then, they have to survive the Big 12 title game, which would probably be Iowa State given those other outcomes. As the Big 12 team with the cleanest path, this should illustrate the extent to which that league, unlike say the SEC or the Big Ten, is almost guaranteed to end up in a bunch of two-loss teams being out of the CFP.

So, same logic for No. 8 TCU or No. 11 Oklahoma State. But all three have a better shot than …

No. 12 Washington

Ranked opponents left: at No. 21 Stanford, vs. No. 25 Washington State, potential Pac-12 Championship Game.

Playoff case: No freaking way. Even if the 7-1 Huskies win out — which would involve winning at Stanford next weekend, as well as taking the Apple Cup against Mike Leach’s crazy offense, and a victory over USC or Arizona in the conference title game — a team that lost to Arizona State and has a potential best win over the current No. 17-ranked team in the CFP isn’t getting in. Two-loss teams from the Big Ten or the SEC would get in ahead of Washington. And if that’s true, nobody else from the Pac-12 needs to apply.