So many ranked match-ups were on the slate for week 11 of the college football season and chaos ensued. By the time the clock hit 0:00 on all of the games, many people didn’t know what to think. That means it’s going to be a fun discussion this week as we determine where every team belongs in the grand scheme of things. That also means the college football playoff committee has a tough task on their hands.
Let me say first that college football is the best form of the greatest sport on earth. If you disagree, you’re crazy. There are still plenty of ways it can be fixed, but it’s so great as it is.
There are arguments to be made for everyone to be everywhere within the top 6 spots or so. How will it all shake out? Who knows, but here are my thoughts after a crazy Saturday of college football.
There are only seven teams still alive for the playoff barring more chaos than there has ever been before. The seven are ranked below. I also give how I feel like the committee will rank things at the end.
1. Alabama (10-0)
The only other team right now that really has an argument, in my opinion, is Miami. The problem with Miami is that they would have to jump from 7 to 1 because of one win. Their win over Virginia Tech lost a lot of it’s luster as they lost to Georgia Tech this weekend. The win over Notre Dame lost a little luster before it started too since Georgia lost so bad. Bottom line, Alabama has won by over 30 points against five opponents and Miami just did that for the first time this weekend, even though it was a big one.
I get it – Alabama at times has not looked great. They struggled a little at Texas A&M and struggled hard before pulling out the win at Mississippi State. But with both of those being road games and there being a handful of injuries this weekend on the defense, I feel like the committee won’t be too harsh and keep it simple for now and just slide them to #1, and I would do the same. Plus, they did beat #16, it wasn’t like it was a team with a losing record. Bottom line – both Alabama and Auburn both have to get past each other then Georgia in Atlanta before they really solidify themselves anywhere. As long as Bama keeps finding ways to win, they should be here.
2. Miami (9-0)
Still a big jump from 7 to 2, but they are undefeated and did look super impressive tonight against the #3 team in the country regardless. Believe it or not, this was actually their biggest blowout win of the season, including over FCS/G5 schools and terrible ACC schools. Still, there is no reason to not jump Miami up right now. They will have to win out to make the playoff and will get Clemson in an elimination game (assuming they both win out). There is no way Miami should ever be left out if they win out.
3. Oklahoma (9-1)
Oklahoma has an impressive resume that would have them #1 if they hadn’t lost to Iowa State. The win at Ohio State is still impressive with how dominant it was, and scoring 62 points on the road at rival Oklahoma State then following it up with an 18-point win against #6 TCU solidifies them as a playoff contender as long as they win out. Their defense is suspect, but their offense is so good, it cancels that out.
All that’s left is to beat West Virginia at the end of the season, then win the Big 12 title game. If West Virginia were to somehow defeat Oklahoma, it would cause a four-way tie for first place at 7-2 to end the season. That would eliminate the Big 12 from the playoffs in my opinion. TCU only needs to win out to get a shot at revenge in the Big 12 title game.
4. Clemson (9-1)
While Clemson has the worst loss of anyone still alive for the playoff, they did play with an injured QB for a little bit before he went out for good. Kelly Bryant is back playing fine, and even though they had a little bit of a scare against FSU today, they are in position to win out and get a win over a Miami team that will be ranked highly. A loss to Miami eliminates them, and a win guarantees a spot. The Auburn win is also looking better and better, especially after today.
5. Wisconsin (10-0)
Say what you want, but they dominated a team that put up almost 500 yards and 55 points on Ohio State last week. Wisconsin held Iowa to 66 total yards. Iowa’s defense is good and Joshua Jackson had two interceptions returned for a touchdown, but Wisconsin still played decent on offense and Jonathan Taylor had 157 yards on the ground against them. Taylor is only a freshman, but he will get some Heisman consideration as he is #3 in the nation in rushing yards right now.
It is looking more and more like a possibility that Wisconsin could run the table, including a Big Ten title game win. There will be no bigger injustice in all of college football than if an undefeated Power 5 conference champion is left out of the playoff in favor of teams with multiple losses.
6. Auburn (8-2)
Auburn was clearly the more dominant team in their 40-17 win over Georgia. The question is – can they do the same to Alabama and then do it for a second time against Georgia, but in the state of Georgia? Auburn was impressive, but there is still a LONG road to go before we start talking about them being in the top 4. If they run that gauntlet, then they will be playing arguably the best football in the country. Still…there are two losses on their record. Obviously they still have Alabama in two weeks, but the Clemson/Miami winner, Oklahoma and Wisconsin all have dibs on a spot before Auburn. Notre Dame losing helped Auburn because Miami/Clemson will play an elimination game at the end of the season, whereas if Notre Dame would have won, they would still be ahead of Auburn right now, despite losing to Georgia and that would be a tough top four to break into.
7. Georgia (9-1)
Georgia still has an argument to stay ahead of Auburn since this was their first loss, but everything will play itself out. If Auburn beats Alabama, then it becomes a legit elimination game in the SEC championship between Georgia and Auburn. I’d actually bet the committee leaves Georgia ahead of Auburn for now, knowing that things will play out over the next few weeks. I only dropped Georgia because it was a blowout loss. If they had lost and it hadn’t been so lopsided, I definitely would have left them ahead for now. We’ll see how much the committee values a win over #1 compared to two losses.
The above rankings are my personal rankings. Here is how I think the teams will be ranked by the committee this week if I had to guess:
1. Alabama (10-0)
2. Clemson (9-1)
3. Miami (9-0)
4. Oklahoma (9-1)
5. Wisconsin (10-0)
6. Georgia (9-1)
7. Auburn (8-2)
8. Notre Dame (8-2)
9. Ohio State (8-2)
10. USC (8-2)
Now that the rankings are out of the way, how about a crazy scenario for everyone to think of?
Before Auburn lost to LSU, there was talk around the office of how it would be possible to have Alabama and Auburn in the playoff. It was much easier to think of back then compared to now. The talk of two SEC teams in the playoff was very real until Georgia’s loss to Auburn. There is still a chance that Alabama goes in and beats Auburn then loses close to Georgia in the SEC Championship, therefore potentially having two 12-1 teams to make an argument to make it.
But is it possible for Auburn and Alabama to still make it? Imagine this:
Wisconsin is looked at as having a weak schedule. They are undefeated, but could be left out of the top four still after all this chaos today. They go and play a 2-loss Ohio State team and lose in the Big Ten title game. Most people would eliminate them at 1-loss, even in favor of 2-loss Auburn since Auburn would be SEC champion.
Oklahoma has one loss to Iowa State. Oklahoma looked good against TCU, but the game was at home. What if either A) West Virginia beats Oklahoma in two weeks, or B) Oklahoma loses to TCU in the conference title game since it will be played at AT&T Stadium. Every team in the Big 12 has two losses and would have recent losses, therefore Auburn would jump them as a 2-loss champion with multiple top 10 wins to end the season.
So the Big Ten and Big 12 are eliminated at this point, at least as guarantees. The Pac-12 is already eliminated. That leaves the following as guaranteed spots:
– The ACC Champion
– The SEC Champion
That’s it. Notre Dame is done with two losses now. Wisconsin and Miami would be sitting there with one loss and they have been looked at as weak leading up to now. The conference champions for the SEC/Big Ten/Big 12/Pac-12 are all at two losses, but Auburn clearly has the best “what have you done lately” resume, and their losses are to Clemson (who will be ranked top 10 regardless) and LSU (who is currently ranked).
Who else is sitting there in this scenario?
Alabama at 11-1, with one loss on the road at Jordan-Hare to Auburn.
Wisconsin losing in the Big Ten title game is a total possibility. Oklahoma has already lost one Big 12 game, so that’s a possibility. Auburn wins the SEC, they get in. Clemson/Miami takes the second spot. Who takes the other two? There are two for the taking and Alabama, Wisconsin (and maybe Miami) are the only 1-loss teams. Alabama could easily grab one of those final spots.
Let’s assume Clemson wins out. Here would be the final records and resumes:
Clemson (12-1, ACC Champ)
Auburn (11-2, SEC Champ)
Ohio State (11-2, Big Ten Champ)
TCU (11-2, Big 12 Champ)
USC/Washington (11-2, Pac-12 Champ)
Who do you take?
The question is – would they jump 1-loss Alabama with a 2-loss conference champion? With all three one-loss, non-champion teams losing their final game, would they take 12 wins over 11 wins? Is Alabama losing on the road to a playoff team (since Auburn would be one at this point) worse than the conference champions losing to non-ranked teams but still winning a conference title?
That’s for the committee to decide, but it would be an interesting debate.
And finally, here is my Week 12 tier list:
Michigan State (-1)
Notre Dame (-1)
Iowa State (-1)
Virginia Tech (-1)