If it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, Week 11 of the 2016 season may ultimately prove that there could be too much of a bad thing as well.
It was a historic night in college football, with the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams going down in upsetting flames on the same day for the first time in three decades. Add in No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Auburn stubbing their collective toes a second time this season, and it was chaos as far as the eye could see.
When the dust had settled, we were left with just two undefeated current Top 25 teams with three weeks left in the regular season: the Tuscaloosa juggernaut Alabama and The Little Boat That Could in Western Michigan. Clemson, Michigan and Washington, the aforementioned Nos. 2-4, came into Saturday unbeaten; they’re all unblemished no more.
The tumult leaves the FBS with nine one-loss teams: that trio, plus Boise State, Louisville, Ohio State, San Diego State, Troy and West Virginia. You can take the four Group of Five teams already mentioned, Boise, SDSU, Troy and WMU, out of the equation as no one-loss team from that group will ever get playoff consideration, nor will an undefeated MAC school.
Add it all up, and you’re left with Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Washington, Louisville, Ohio State and West Virginia as unbeaten/one-loss teams very much a part of the playoff discussion; wasn’t that the case entering the weekend? Two-loss teams like Penn State and Oklahoma and Colorado and Utah and North Carolina are, at the moment, at least on the periphery of the conversation, and would certainly gain a larger voice if they win a P5 conference championship; wasn’t that also the case before Week 11 kicked off?
Yes, teams like Auburn and A&M played themselves out of the playoffs with losses. Other than that, though, the players remain essentially the same as they were before the games kicked off at noon Saturday because of the sheer volume of the upsets. How we get to the four semifinalists, though, could very well have been irreparably altered by the results.
In fact, we’re closer to a two-loss team breaking that particular glass ceiling than ever before. Most notably, Penn State may have been such a team that gained the most from what went down this weekend. Another? Oklahoma, with two games against ranked opponents remaining that, if they win, the playoff committee would give serious weight too, although that same committee would gig them for the lack of a conference championship game.
The thing is, though, the three Top Four teams that lost stumbled, despite the losses, tilt toward still controlling their own destiny. If Clemson wins out, including the ACC title game, they’ll likely be in the playoffs. The same likely holds true for Michigan and Washington in the Big Ten and Pac-12, respectively.
We’re still at least a week away from really gauging how much impact Week 11 had on the playoff race. It could’ve meant little or nothing… or it could’ve been monumental, changing the entire complexion of the postseason. Either way, save the post-mortem on Upset Saturday’s carcass for later this month.
Until then, though, enjoy the chaos that makes this the greatest sport in the country.