Hello, college football fans!
[Eh, you're OK. --Mgmt]
Only two weeks remain until college football's "Selection Sunday" (my background is more in college basketball which I have been projecting ever since 1994). Yesterday a few more games were played, but none of the top 12 teams in last Tuesday's College Football Playoff rankings lost (#13 BYU was the highest ranked team to lose).
How did Saturday's games affect the Playoff race?
We have the most unique situation I believe any of us will ever see. To "win" the East Division, all the Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, #4 in latest CFP rankings) have to do next Saturday is literally play their game next Saturday at home vs. the Michigan Wolverines.
Even if Ohio State LOSES to Michigan, they will have played their sixth Big Ten game and because they beat the Indiana Hoosiers this year will own the tiebreaker over them. The only way Ohio State doesn't win the East is if the game gets canceled due to COVID-19, then Indiana plays Northwestern in Indy (too bad it's not a typical year or could you imagine the home field advantage the Hoosiers would have?) Of course if Ohio State loses to Michigan, the Buckeyes Playoff chances will be history. Even if Michigan/Ohio State (next Saturday, noon FOX) isn't played, the Big Ten will at least schedule Ohio State for "Champions Weekend" Dec. 19. Most likely they will play the "second" best West Division team, most likely the winner of Saturday's game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Iowa Hawkeyes.
I can't believe an undefeated Ohio State team will not be in the College Football Playoff whether they are 7-0, 6-0, or even 5-0. But of course if they lose a game, they are done? Could Northwestern upset them? I highly doubt it but I thought Wisconsin was a way better team this year too.
The SEC Championship Game (Dec. 19 CBS, 8pm ET) is now set between the East Division winner Florida Gators (8-1, #6) and the West Division winner Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0, #1). Both teams clinch tiebreakers over their division's 2nd place teams, Florida over the Georgia Bulldogs (6-2, #8) and Alabama over the Texas A&M Aggies (7-1, #5). Both Alabama and Florida are scheduled to play Dec. 12, Alabama travels to Arkansas and Florida hosts LSU.
Alabama likely will be in the CFP's Final Four, win or lose vs. Florida. If somehow Arkansas beats them but they win the SEC, they should still make it. Only two losses will eliminate them. Florida is in a better situation than Texas A&M despite being ranked lower and having lost to them earlier this year at College Station because they will have a shot at Alabama and a win by them (assuming they don't blow it vs. LSU) should put the Gators into the top four.
Texas A&M has to hope Florida loses to Alabama and judging by the poll in last Saturday's Fan Post (they received just 10 of 61 votes when this FanPost was written) probably will need Clemson to lose to Notre Dame (if Notre Dame loses, they will both make the field) and Cincinnati to not sweep Tulsa (although at this point A&M is ahead of #7 Cincinnati in the CFP rankings).
The ACC Championship Game (Dec. 19, 4pm, ABC) will pit the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-0, 9-0 in ACC, #2) vs. the Clemson Tigers (9-1, 8-1, #3). Because of an ACC decision, both teams will not play this upcoming Saturday (Notre Dame had a scheduled game vs. Wake Forest canceled). The decision was to use a nine game record as the evaluation for the ACC Championship Game. Using nine games as the criteria, the Miami Hurricanes (8-1. 7-1, #10) could tie Clemson by winning this Saturday but Clemson beat Miami earlier this season. The SEC's commissioner questioned the move, implying it was done to protect Notre Dame and Clemson. He said "It begs one question: If their two most highly ranked teams were, for instance, [ranked] five and six in the CFP Rankings, would this decision have been made?"
If Notre Dame wins the rematch in Charlotte, they will certainly be in and Clemson with two losses will be out. If Clemson wins, Clemson certainly gets in. Notre Dame? I think people assume Notre Dame is in no matter what. An ESPN.com article said "Notre Dame has a good case to make the playoff regardless of the outcome of the ACC championship game -- David M. Hale".
But what happens if Ohio State finishes undefeated and Florida beats Alabama? Doesn't Notre Dame have to be considered out and your Final Four are Florida, Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State? I don't think one fewer game and/or a lack of a conference championship should disqualify the Buckeyes from the Playoff if they are undefeated. Notre Dame won a game they never would have won if Trevor Lawrence had played (or prove me wrong Notre Dame and then Clemson will be out).
Of course, the argument between Notre Dame and Ohio State is pretty meaningless if Alabama beats Florida as expected.
If the fans who voted at Off Tackle Empire were the CFP Committee, the Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 in AAC, #7) would be the team to make the Playoff if they, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson all win their games. I assume they would also vote in Cincinnati if they, Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame all win as well.
Cincinnati plays at the Tulsa Golden Hurricane this Saturday. The two teams have already qualified for the AAC Championship Game the following Saturday (8pm ET, ABC) with the winner of Saturday's game hosting. For the purposes of the CFP, Cincinnati would have to beat Tulsa twice. There are currently six teams ranked ahead of Cincinnati. I'm pretty sure Clemson, Ohio State, Texas A&M, and Florida would all be eliminated from Playoff consideration if they lost.
I doubt Alabama would drop below Cincinnati with one loss (with two losses they would but the chances of that happening are slim).Texas A&M probably won't lose the rest of the season. Florida has a pretty good chance of losing. There would be an argument between a one loss Notre Dame and an undefeated Cincinnati according to the poll voters (27 voters said Cincinnati, 24 said Notre Dame) and the margin of victory certainly could sway the results. Very few (10) would put a one loss Texas A&M in over an undefeated Cincinnati. But it's the CFP Committee that has the final call.
I'll stick with my "Final Four" from last week.
College Football Playoff
Rose Bowl: Jan. 1, 5pm: #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson
Sugar Bowl: Jan. 1, 8:30pm: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Notre Dame
Conference Championship Games:
Big Ten: Ohio State beats Northwestern
SEC: Alabama beats Florida
ACC: Clemson beats Notre Dame
AAC: Cincinnati beats Tulsa (and goes undefeated)
Big 12: Oklahoma beats Iowa State
Pac-12: At this point, no one knows who's going to be in the game nor does anyone outside the Pathetic 12 even care (and this year the Rose Bowl isn't Big Ten/Pac 12 so all they're doing is playing for a lousy Fiesta Bowl bid).
Other NY6 Bowls:
Cotton Bowl: Dec. 30, 7:15pm: #5 Texas A&M vs. #7 Oklahoma
Peach Bowl: Jan. 1, 12:30pm: #6 Cincinnati vs. Georgia
Fiesta Bowl: Jan. 2, 4pm: Pathetic 12 Champion vs. Indiana
Orange Bowl: Jan. 2, 8pm: #8 Florida vs. Miami
As I said last week, I have the Cotton Bowl asking for and receiving Texas A&M so the Orange Bowl can get Florida. It makes natural sense for Georgia to go to the Peach Bowl. Indiana will fight Cincinnati for the Peach Bowl with the loser having to settle for the Arizona desert.
Then again, I'm sure Indiana fans will be thrilled to make the NY6 even if they have to travel all the way out west. It does seem unfair that BYU drops out after losing to Coastal Carolina and had they not played the game they'd probably have gone to the Fiesta Bowl (or if the game was in Provo BYU probably wins).