I skipped last week because nothing really changed too much and I was out of town before a holiday week.
After rivalry week, many things have moved around and set up interesting scenarios for the college football playoff.
First, the AP Poll:
3. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State
UCF moving up ahead of Michigan is interesting. The pollsters don’t really care much about Milton going down and have them ahead of Michigan, but they did jump Ohio State over them.
Texas and Washington are in interesting spots though. Let’s say that the College Football Playoff rankings are the same as the AP Poll, both win their respective conference titles, because they have already defeated their upcoming opponents once this year, and then this happens:
Alabama defeats Georgia
Clemson defeats Pitt
Northwestern defeats Ohio State
UCF defeats Memphis
The only one that is not likely is Northwestern winning. But if that upset did happen (because we’ve seen how Ohio State has played at times this year) then who would get the fourth spot? If you strictly shifted teams, UCF would be fourth. Literally any other team outside UCF would either have 3+ losses and a conference title or two losses and no conference title. Meanwhile, UCF would be undefeated with a conference title.
Now, I know as well as the next person that in this scenario, most people would still take teams like Georgia or Oklahoma over UCF, but it’s also 2 losses vs. 0 losses. Just interesting to think about. I dive more into playoff scenarios after the tier list.
Now, here is the current tier list (teams listed in alphabetical order within a tier):
Alabama – A dominant win over their rival to set up another showdown against Georgia in Atlanta, but this time, it’s just for the SEC championship and not for the national championship. The big question is – can Alabama lose this game and still make it in?
Clemson – Clemson is looking unstoppable right now, and definitely have the easiest game coming up of the playoff hopefuls. However, Jake Bentley did throw for over 500 yards and 5 touchdowns against Clemson. Imagine if SC had a run game to go with it. Also, can Clemson afford to lose and still make it?
Georgia – Finished strong over their rival. They must win to make it to the playoff.
Notre Dame – Almost slipped up against USC, but they are a lock for the playoff right now since their season is done and they are 12-0.
LSU – I’m not going to drop them after that insane seven overtime game. They are still one of the better teams in the country.
Michigan (-1) – Yikes. What a terrible loss at Ohio State.
Ohio State – Huge win over Michigan, but they have looked very bad at times.
Oklahoma – Oklahoma continues to have a really good offense, and a not very good defense. That held true against West Virginia. When they played Texas before, it was a game in the 40’s so we’ll see if it hits that again.
UCF – Milton is injured, and that’s not good for UCF as he was the core of that team. Still, they are undefeated and took down rival USF. We’ll see what they do against Memphis this week.
West Virginia (-1)
Dropped out: Boston College (-1), Washington State (-1)
My playoff prediction
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oklahoma
(2) Clemson vs. (3) Notre Dame
(5) Ohio State
Teams still alive for the playoff
(in my opinion and ordered by record, then alphabetical)
– Alabama (12-0)
– Clemson (12-0)
– Notre Dame (12-0)
– Georgia (11-1), loss to LSU on the road (Week 7)
– Ohio State (11-1), loss to Purdue on the road (Week 8)
– Oklahoma (11-1), loss to Texas on neutral site (Week 6)
– UCF (11-0)
– Michigan (10-2), loss to Notre Dame on the road (Week 1), Ohio State on the road (Week 13)
– Texas (9-3), loss to Maryland on the road (Week 1), Oklahoma State on the road (Week 9), West Virginia at home (Week 10)
I’m fairly confident in the Pac-12 missing out. The teams that are set so far are:
Alabama/Georgia winner (SEC) – guaranteed
Notre Dame (Independent) – guaranteed
Clemson (ACC) – if they win, guaranteed
Other teams will need some help in my opinion, even if they win out.
The debate most likely becomes Oklahoma vs Ohio State vs UCF
Assuming both Oklahoma and Ohio State wins, then UCF will not be in the picture. At that point, you just have to compare resumes:
Oklahoma – defeated #23 Army, #24 Iowa State, #15 West Virginia but have a loss to #9 Texas
Ohio State – defeated #14 Penn State, defeated #8 Michigan but have a loss to unranked Purdue
Strictly based off that, Oklahoma clearly has the better resume. They would also have beaten #9 Texas in their championship game to avenge their one loss. Meanwhile, Ohio State will only have a win over #21 Northwestern and that loss to Purdue will still sting. Not to mention losing the eye test pretty bad against Maryland and Nebraska. Oklahoma’s non-ranked struggles came in the form of Texas Tech on the road and rival Oklahoma State
There is one common opponent in TCU. Ohio State won on a neutral field by 12, Oklahoma won on the road by 25.
ESPN is running with the narrative of Ohio State’s strength of record being better than Oklahoma despite all of what I just wrote above. Obviously if only one of them win, then that team will be the one to move into the playoffs with a Georgia loss.
If both Oklahoma and Ohio State lose and UCF wins
This is the ultimate chaos scenario. You’d have Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame as your top 3 teams. The final spot would go to one of these (ranked in the order they are now), and I’m leaving out everyone behind that would have three losses without a conference championship and Northwestern who would have the Big Ten title but four losses.
Georgia (11-2) – Georgia’s case would be that their losses came to a top 15 team on the road (LSU) and the #1 team in the country. However, it would have to be another classic against Alabama to get the game away from Atlanta where Bama would be 2-0 in the last year to try again (because UGA would be #4 and guarantee a rematch in the first round).
Oklahoma (11-2) – Oklahoma’s case would be that they only lost to one team, and if was their hated rival. However, they have the high powered offense to potentially compete with anyone, and a potential Tua vs. Kyler showdown would be money for ratings.
Ohio State (11-2) – Ohio State’s case would be that they have a top 10 win over Michigan and another quality win over Penn State. They have made the playoff multiple times before, including being the only team to win a title in the playoff minus Alabama and Clemson.
UCF (12-0, AAC Champ) – UCF’s case would be that they are the only undefeated team left of the remaining potential teams, and have continued to win despite their quarterback being injured. The case would have to be that an undefeated Group of 5 team is more deserving than teams with multiple losses from a stronger conference.
Michigan (10-2) – Michigan’s case would have to be that both of their losses came to top ten teams on the road and both of them are hated rivals. They have to use that they have typically had one of the best defenses in the country and that if they could play on neutral sites, they may be able to take it to teams.
Texas (10-3, Big 12 Champ) – The case for Texas is simple, despite some losses, they perform when they need to. They will have two top ten wins, even though it will technically be against the same team and on a neutral field each time.
Washington (10-3, Pac-12 Champ) – The case for Washington may be weak, but they can say their losses all came either in a true road environment or way far from home (when they lost in Atlanta to Auburn). They would also have a conference championship to use, but Alabama last year showed that a team with one less loss can make it in over a conference champion with one more loss.
If Alabama loses
This may be the most interesting scenario of them all, because in the above scenario – we’re all pretty sure UCF nor Washington are getting in.
If Alabama loses, then the three guaranteed teams become Clemson (as long as they win) along with Notre Dame and Georgia. So who gets the 4-seed if Oklahoma and Ohio State both win? At that point, the final spot would be between these teams:
Alabama (12-1) – Alabama’s case would be their pure dominance all year, much like it was last year, up until the final game. It has to be a close game against Georgia to show that they can go somewhere else and win the game if it was played again. Also, unlike Georgia making it in as the 4-seed if they were to lose, Alabama losing would make it where they would face Clemson first most likely, setting up a potential Clemson/Georgia path to the championship for the second year in a row.
Ohio State (12-1, Big Ten Champ) – The difference between last year and this year is that Ohio State will only have one loss compared to two last year. Imagine how close the debate was last year between 11-1 Alabama and 11-2 Champ Ohio State. The debate will continue to be close as they both have the same record (instead of one extra loss for Ohio State) and while Ohio State will still have their conference title, Alabama will have at least won their division and played for a conference title unlike last year. Plus their one loss would be to a playoff team, not Purdue. Ohio State just has to hope that winning a conference title over a top 25 team in the final week (despite losing to an unranked team) means more than losing to a top 4 team in the conference title game.
Oklahoma (12-1, Big 12 Champ) – Oklahoma’s case is that if they win, they will have beaten a top 10 team in Texas and also avenged their only loss. At that point, I believe Oklahoma is the team to debate against Alabama, not Ohio State. The only thing that would stop them is their lack of defense. If they started getting into statistics – Oklahoma is #1 in total offense while Alabama is #4. However, Oklahoma is #109 in total defense while Alabama is #7.
We’ll have the playoff rankings for you live on Jox Primetime Tuesday night at 6 pm where we will break it all down and discuss these scenarios further while also previewing the SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia.