As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.
PROJECTING CFP TOP FOUR
As it turns out, there was some significant upheaval — and near-upheaval — around the top of the College Football Playoff rankings that will continue to reverberate for days to come.
First and foremost, obviously, was No. 4 Mississippi State suffering its second loss of the season and seemingly knocking itself out of playoff contention. Additionally, No. 6 Ohio State suffered a loss (star quarterback J.T. Barrett to a season-ending injury) in a win that could (maybe) (possibly) do serious damage to its playoff hopes as well.
Toss in near-misses from No. 3 Florida State (five-point win over 6-5 Florida) and No. 7 Baylor (two-point win over 4-8 Texas Tech) against bad football teams, and there will be some very eager and attentive bystanders when the new rankings are released Tuesday. Hell, No. 1 Alabama’s season was on the line as it trailed Auburn by 12 in the third quarter at home before going on a 34-3 run to put the game away.
The team that arguably gained the most this weekend? TCU, and they were sitting at home on their couches watching the mayhem develop.
About the only certainty coming out of Week 14 is that four different conferences will grab the four available playoff spots. Which four, and which order, won’t be determined until next Saturday’s play has ended.
Entering Week 14, the Top Four, in order, was Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State. What will it look like when the rankings are released? My best guess is…
3. Florida State
The main wildcard in all of this — maybe not in this week’s rankings but certainly the final one — is the Buckeyes. If OSU can beat a very good and 14th-ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, would the committee put the Buckeyes in ahead of what would presumably be a pair of one-loss teams, Baylor and TCU, that won’t play in a championship game, knowing that the player who helped get the Buckeyes to 11-1 won’t be available? And, as asked earlier Saturday, would the committee’s view of OSU depend on how Barrett’s replacement, Cardale Jones, performed in his first career start on one of the biggest stages? We simply don’t know the answers to any of those types of questions, and won’t begin to get answers until, at the earliest, Tuesday evening.
Of course, the Bears still have their own stiff test to pass, hosting No. 12 Kansas State in Week 15. And then there are the Horned Frogs, who can do nothing to improve its résumé — but could potentially damage it if they struggle — as it closes out the regular season against 2-9 Iowa State.
And then there’s this: what if one of Alabama, Oregon or Florida State — or some combination of the three — lose in their respective conference championship games next weekend? All hell breaks loose, that’s what happens. The best thing is, at least for non-fans of those squads, it’s entirely possible. FSU plays a Georgia Tech team that’s won five straight, including Saturday’s win on the road against ninth-ranked Georgia, and runs the hard-to-defend option offense; Arizona, which has dropped No. 25 Utah and No. 13 Arizona State in back-to-back weeks, will prove to be a stiff test for UO, especially seeing as the Wildcats beat the Ducks by seven in Eugene earlier this year; and Missouri, despite the faulty thinking of some, will not be a pushover for UA, especially with that ferocious Mizzou defensive line.
While one of the seven teams may have been “eliminated” in Week 14, there remains plenty of potential for mayhem and carnage in Week 15. Yep, this playoff thing sure is hurting the best regular season in sports…
I don’t know if you noticed or not, but the ACC had a very good day today… and very much at the expense of its big football brother, the SEC.
For those unaware, allow me to count the SEC carcasses left strewn about the South after getting trucked by ACC programs:
- Clemson 35, South Carolina 17
- Georgia Tech 30, Georgia 24
- Louisville 44, Kentucky 40
- Florida State 24, Florida 19
I don’t know if that’s happened before, especially of late, but I’m quite certain it wouldn’t take long to call the roll of the times it has. Sure, all four wins came against the weak link in the SEC chain, the East, but it was still an impressive performance by a much-maligned conference.