College Football Playoff Scenarios (Week 9)

College Football Playoff Scenarios (Week 9)

It didn’t take long for the Michigan walk-off loss of week seven to get pushed to the back burner. The way Florida State lost this past weekend wasn’t worse; the U of M loss still tops it, but FSU gave it a run for its money with Kick Six 2: Electric Boogaloo. Announcers, analysts, even fellow coaches seem unable to refrain from stating nonsense after the fact about it being a mistake to use special teams now. All of a sudden, attempting the game-winning field goal is a bad idea? How about this instead; how about you make a tackle after the block? Forcing overtime is that easy. Florida State needed to beat Clemson and win the ACC to have a shot at anything big this season anyway, so that’s still the case. Now the “something big” is probably the Orange Bowl though instead of the playoff.


The Cream of the Crop:

Baylor (7-0): Quarterback Seth Russell broke a bone in his neck during Saturday’s rout over Iowa State, and the latest reports are that he will miss the rest of the season. The team will likely be fine without him next game against Kansas State. After that though, Baylor faces a three-game gauntlet of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU.

Ohio State (8-0): J.T. Barrett had over 300 total yards and five touchdowns in his first start of the season. Cardale Jones barely played. Did Urban Meyer luck into the correct coaching decision or will the same unpleasantness persist if Barrett has any struggles moving forward? Games against Michigan State and Michigan still loom.

LSU (7-0): LSU is off this coming weekend. After that, the Tigers travel to Alabama for the decisive game of the SEC West season. Because of the power of that division title, the matchup is just as important and just as beneficial for whoever wins, even though Bama has the loss and LSU is currently undefeated.

Clemson (7-0): Handing the Miami Hurricanes a loss so bad that they felt obligated to fire their coach is quite an accomplishment. Barely beating a banged-up Notre Dame team is still the Tigers’ best win of the year, but as everyone falls around them, it might not matter.

Michigan State (8-0): The Spartans’ entire season is going to come down to the November 21 game against Ohio State. They don’t play any other difficult games the rest of the season and will surely fall from the top-four discussion with a final-season record of 11-1 if that one loss is to the Buckeyes. In an odd quirk, MSU would likely be better off at 11-1 if they had lost to one of the other teams remaining on its schedule, allowing it to still pick up that immaculate win, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

TCU (7-0): With Utah losing ahead of it, TCU still managed to fall in the AP poll by not playing a game. This is the type of cowardice voters always display. Why don’t teams drop after poorly played wins but do drop when not even seeing the field? Hopefully the first playoff committee rankings don’t hang onto preseason rankings like a life preserver like the AP and coaches’ polls do.


On the Outside Looking In:

Utah (6-1): Somehow the lines-makers knew; they always know. No. 3 Utah was an underdog, getting points, at USC this past weekend. It seemed absolutely ludicrous until the Trojans vanquished the Utes rather easily. Utah still has a number of quality wins and is in the driver’s seat to make the Pac-12 championship but will now need help to get back into the playoff discussion.

Alabama (7-1): Alabama hung on for a close victory over Tennessee. Many of the other top teams in the country have had very close wins as well this season (OSU, MSU and TCU jump out), but none of them have a loss to boot. This “bad” win combined with the earlier loss drops Alabama out of the top group…right until its next game, November 7 against LSU.


All Intents and Purposes:

Texas A&M (5-2): One bad loss to Alabama doesn’t ruin a season, but two bad losses in a row, dropping A&M near the bottom of the SEC West, is enough to push it out of the general playoff race. The only thing remaining to save the Aggies is running the table, defeating LSU in their final regular-season game, and hoping that was enough to propel them to the top of the conference standings.

Memphis (7-0), Toledo (7-0), Houston (7-0), Temple (7-0): The quartet all won handily this past week. Temple plays Notre Dame next, a game that could vault it away from this foursome and into a group containing the likes of Iowa and Stanford; i.e. the group that still doesn’t have a chance at a playoff berth unless everyone ahead of it messes up.