College Football Playoff Scenarios (Week 8)

College Football Playoff Scenarios (Week 8)

We have to begin by talking about that Michigan State win. It was the most inexplicable victory I can ever remember witnessing. It was more bizarre than Auburn’s Kick Six win over Alabama because even though that was off a missed field goal, seeing a return touchdown decide a game isn’t all that uncommon. I can’t ever remember seeing a fumble-return touchdown as time expired. The reason Herm Edwards’ Miracle in the Meadowlands NFL return is shown over and over still to this day is it’s the only example of such a play happening before. With the Michigan State – Michigan game, there were so many other choices that could have been made; any one of which would have allowed the Wolverines to (likely) win. The only thing that couldn’t happen (the punter attempting to scoop up the bouncing ball and kick it…backwards over his head bicycle style) was what did happen. Michigan probably doesn’t deserve to drop out of the playoff conversation after that loss, but special teams matter and a second loss is a second loss.


The Cream of the Crop:

Baylor (6-0): Another day, another dollar, another 60 points, another four-score victory. Wide receiver Corey Coleman has somehow already broken the university’s single-season touchdown record, which is impressive enough, but I was more surprised by the secondary news that Baylor’s touchdown record was only Kendall Wright’s 14 scores; figured someone had gotten more than that during this stretch of dominant Bears offense. Baylor’s main test of the year comes up in November when it faces Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU in four straight games, with three coming on the road.

Utah (6-0): Utah is still ranked just seventh in the coaches’ poll even though it easily has the best collection of wins in the country. The rest of the Utes’ slate looks much, much easier now that USC and UCLA have fallen on hard times, but a trip to the Pac-12 title game is still no less impressive.

Ohio State (7-0): Urban Meyer has come out with a grand proclamation that he is not really changing anything nor deciding anything about his quarterback position. J.T. Barrett proved much more effective against Penn State last week, but only enough to instill doubt in Cardale Jones’ mind. It would seem obvious to outsiders that the most effective way to run the offense would be to announce no starter and rotate the two players by feel. Saying Jones is the starter and repeatedly undermining his performance by yanking him around is benefitting no Buckeye.

Michigan State (7-0): Phew. Now Sparty can relax again for a couple weeks until traveling to Ohio State November 21.

TCU (7-0): Nothing new to report until the Horned Frogs lose. At least this last one was won comfortably.

Alabama (6-1): Just as the winner of this past weekend’s game against Texas A&M was going to reserve its spot among the top contenders, the winner of the Alabama – LSU game on November 7 will do so again. The Crimson Tide looked amazing against the Aggies. The early season loss still exists though, which means Bama isn’t out of the woods (if an SEC team can ever be out of the woods), and any other loss will cripple its playoff chances.


On the Outside Looking In:

Clemson (6-0): November 7 the Tigers host Florida State essentially for the ACC championship and the right to finish fifth in the country, being left out of the four-team playoff because its schedule was so poor.

LSU (6-0): For weeks, I have demanded that LSU play someone who can contain its running game and force it to win by throwing the ball. Two things: quarterback Brandon Harris kind of did enough to prove that point against Florida, but more importantly, perhaps I was underrating Leonard Fournette with such a request. Why would I, a mere mortal, assume anyone was ever going to contain the LSU running game? Fournette is currently the only back in the country over 1,000 yards; he’s up over 1,200.

Michigan (5-2): Michigan can still beat Ohio State later in the year and win the Big 10 conference title. That’s what it will take, but it isn’t unreasonable enough to suggest the Wolverines are out of it. The week-one loss to Utah continues to be a very good loss, especially since it was out-of-conference. And a possible date with an undefeated Iowa in the Big 10 title game would boost a resume a great deal.

If anyone was wondering, yes Iowa avoids playing all of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State, AKA the top four teams in the East division, this regular season; and yes, the Hawkeyes will receive no credit for their undefeated record until much later in the season.


All Intents and Purposes:

Ole Miss (5-2): Mississippi’s win over Alabama is still a great one, but the pair of losses is far too troubling for that to save it. As always with SEC teams, the caveat remains that the Rebels can still win the SEC West and the conference championship, at which point two losses will not preclude them from playoff participation. Next week’s game versus Texas A&M may serve as a more official knock-out contest.

Memphis (6-0), Toledo (6-0), Houston (6-0), Temple (6-0): There doesn’t appear to be a scenario in which even undefeated versions of any of these clubs has a plausible chance at making the four-team playoff. I suppose that means the playoff system is a failure, but does anyone believe a 13-0 Toledo or Houston is really better than a one- or even two-loss club from the SEC or Big 10?