All the talk is about what four teams will be selected for the College Football Playoff this year. For the purpose of this article I will assume the current AP Poll (as of Monday night, Nov. 28th) will be representative of the next CFP rankings prior to the conference championships this coming weekend. AP Top 5 in order are Alabama, Ohio St., Clemson, Washington, and Michigan (view full list here). I will present the following scenarios and what believe is a pretty obvious CFP based on that scenario.
Most Likely Scenarios
Washington and Penn State win their respective conference championship games
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Penn State and #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Washington
Yes, that’s right. I would leave out Clemson should they win the ACC. I will address my reasons for both Washington and Penn State over Clemson separately.
First, why Washington? Should Washington win on Saturday that to me is enough significant wins in the Pac-12 to earn them a spot. Sure I don’t think the Pac-12 is quite as strong, but that doesn’t diminish Washington’s ability to hold their own in the conference. Another reason, replace ‘Washington’ with the letters ‘USC’ and without a doubt they earn themselves a spot in the CFP because we all know College Football is all about the big name schools having their shot.
Why Penn State? Sure they would have two losses to Clemson’s one but it comes down to who they played. I have heard so many people bring up Penn State’s loss to Pittsburgh like that’s some significant factor in them not making it over Clemson. Well check their schedules folks. Clemson LOST to Pittsburgh too! I see Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh as a worse loss than both of Penn State’s losses because of the timing of the games. Both of Penn State’s losses came in September. Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh came just a couple weeks ago.
Why is this significant? Well remember the first year of the CFP? Let me refresh you just in case, everyone questioned the committee for putting Ohio State in at #4 because of an early season loss to Virginia Tech. How did that turn out? Pretty well I would say considering Ohio State went on to beat not only #1 Alabama but also #2 Oregon to win the title. I won’t waste your time validating Penn State’s loss to Michigan because I have more scenarios to get to so comment below if you really want validation for that loss. Penn State also has the win against Ohio State, another playoff team, which means they have good reason to belong in there as well.
I’ll shut down one more argument, the “we can’t have two teams from one conference” nonsense. For years I hated how much love the SEC got in college football (ironically enough this coincides with the years I could care less about college football) and remember very well when it was decided that Alabama and LSU should play in the national title game back in the 2011 season (game was played in 2012). Clearly filling two spots with two teams from one conference, which was deemed the best, was not a problem. So why then would filling two out of four spots with two teams from arguably (I say arguably but I don’t see much argument) the best conference in college football this season.
Why not Michigan? I would assume no one would argue for Michigan in this scenario, but just in case. Two losses in their last three games. Yes one was to Ohio St., but the other was to Iowa. If people want to say Iowa was not a bad loss than that further backs my point for Penn State considering they beat Iowa 41-14 this month which I would put more stock in than their early season losses. Teams vying for a CFP spot should be at their best late in the season win it counts and Michigan losing two of it’s last three means they just are not as deserving in this scenario.
Clemson, Washington, and Wisconsin win their respective conference championship games
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Clemson and #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Washington
My argument for Washington over Clemson is the same as above. The question here is why Clemson over Michigan and Wisconsin.
Why not Michigan? Similar reasons as above. They lost two of their last three games. Late season should be when you are at your best and they simply have not got the job done. Had Michigan’s second loss been to Penn State or earlier in the season I would probably give them the bump, but they were not so I have to be consistent.
Why not Wisconsin? Well unfortunately for them they lost to both Ohio State and Michigan. If Michigan is not in, then Wisconsin has no business being in. Sorry Badger fans, but at least you won’t have to face Alabama.
Clemson, Colorado, and Penn State win
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Clemson and #2 Penn State vs. #3 Ohio State
You could have Ohio State or Penn State as #2 and #3, doesn’t really matter. I simply figured if these were the four, the committee would then put Penn State ahead of Ohio State since they did beat them in the regular season and have the conference championship under their belt. This CFP result is simply a testament that I believe Clemson should be #4 out of this group, again for reasons listed above. Although I would say I might prefer Penn State or Ohio State as #4 for a potential all Big Ten championship (my Big Ten bias), but if that were the case Penn State would most likely draw the short straw on that because we all know College Football wants to see Alabama/Ohio State.
My Michigan reasons are the same as the previous scenario.
Why not Washington? Sorry Washington, I am rooting for you to make it in, but I cannot see any way you get in losing this weekend.
Clemson, Colorado, and Wisconsin win
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Michigan and #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson
Why not Wisconsin? Same as above, they lost to Ohio State and Michigan and should not get in ahead of Michigan.
Why not Colorado? I have argued pretty strongly for Washington in previous scenarios based on their only loss being to USC (also one of Colorado’s losses) and also argued about not reading too much into early season losses (both losses came by Oct. 8th). But by keeping Wisconsin out because they lost to Michigan, I have to be consistent with Colorado losing to Michigan. Still, Colorado deserves some credit if this scenario happens. They would fall just shy of making the playoff.
Virginia Tech, Washington, Wisconsin win
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Michigan and #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Washington
All reasoning has been explained above for this one.
Less Likely Scenarios
Virginia Tech, Colorado, Penn State, Oklahoma win
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Oklahoma and #2 Penn State vs. #3 Ohio State
No I did not forget about Oklahoma. In this scenario I could see Oklahoma squeak out a CFP birth simply because I cannot see three Big Ten teams making it into the playoff and both losses coming early in September speaks to their ability to make the necessary adjustments. They are hot at the right time, unfortunately it will take a lot of things to go their way for this to happen.
Virginia Tech, Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma win
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Michigan and #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Oklahoma
The only reason for Oklahoma over Michigan for #3 would be to prevent a Michigan and Ohio State rematch right away. No doubt College Football would also love the win/win scenario of either Alabama/Ohio State or Michigan/Ohio State, of course assuming Ohio State holds off Oklahoma a second time this year.
Virginia Tech, Colorado, Penn State, Oklahoma State win
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Colorado and #2 Penn State vs. #3 Ohio State
I think this unlikely scenario of Clemson, Washington and Oklahoma all faltering would actually pave way for Colorado to make it. Not sure this would be much benefit to Colorado since I don’t think they would stack up too well against Alabama but feel like they should get the spot regardless in this scenario.
Virginia Tech, Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State win
Resulting CFP: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Michigan and #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson
As much as I kept Clemson out in previous scenarios, I feel like their won’t be much choice here with all the top teams losing. I could see the committee possibly giving Wisconsin the bump over Michigan in this scenario. They would have won their championship while everyone else will have lost, but my argument for Michigan over Wisconsin remains the same.
I feel like I have exhausted all playoff scenarios based on the upcoming conference championships. Feel free to comment below if I missed one. If you want to see more on my thoughts about college football, particularly why there needs to be an eight team playoff, check out these articles: