What’s it take to make the College Football Playoff? Let me count the ways (at least for our local interests in the Big 12 and SEC).
Let’s start with the easy ones to figure out – teams which are currently undefeated and basically control their own destiny.
Or do they?
Baylor and West Virginia are currently perfect on their respective seasons. They still play each other, so both can’t go unblemished. One might make it through unscathed, but I doubt it. If I had to pick, West Virginia might be the best bet. Mainly because they have a defense.
Let’s just say for argument’s sake that one of the Big 12 teams does go undefeated. Guess what? They probably still need help.
How so? Well, let’s start with the four spots in the CFP and probability. There’s a good chance that Alabama goes 13-0. Heck, they could play the Browns and have a decent shot to win. Even if they lost a game, they’re still probably in. So let’s just include them in the CFP four right off the bat.
Three spots left.
One has to look no further than the Big Ten for the next candidate, and that is probably Michigan. No one is really talking about them, but they play some nasty D up there and will probably put a hurting on the Spartans tomorrow. The Big Ten will probably come down to Michigan at Ohio State, and the winner (even with one loss) should get in. Their strength of schedule is simply too good.
Down to two slots.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Pac-12 has one shot and it’s the Washington Huskies. The conference is down this year, so anything short of a 13-0 run by Washington won’t get them in. They’ve got some tricky games – like at Utah tomorrow. But look out for Washington State and the Apple Cup. There’s a decent chance that Washington loses at some point, and this would be the first place to look for help.
The ACC champion is our next candidate. Clemson controls its own destiny but all it would take is a loss at Florida State tomorrow to throw a dent in the Tigers’ plans. And they still play Pitt and Wake Forest.
But let’s go ahead and let Clemson in, for now, leaving us just one spot.
That spot will be claimed by one of these teams, most likely (in no order) — Washington, Baylor, West Virginia, Ohio State, Texas A&M or Louisville.
Here’s the bad news for the Big 12 champ. If one goes by what the CFP committee preaches, an undefeated Baylor or West Virginia has a good chance to be passed up by a one-loss A&M, Ohio State or Louisville. Why?
Well, Baylor has played literally no one. I saw a tweet last weekend that Baylor’s strength of schedule went up after their bye week (ouch). If they go 12-0, their best win is what? OU? A team that lost to Houston and Ohio State and gave up a million yards to Texas Tech last week? Same for West Virginia.
No, believe it or not, the Aggies might be the most logical choice to slide right in the back door of the CFP this year if they run the table. Seriously, if A&M goes 11-1, with wins vs. Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas and UCLA (bear with me), and their only loss came on the road vs. No. 1 Bama, that blows anything Baylor can put forth, even at 12-0. Same for West Virginia.
No, the Big 12’s best chance lies with A&M dropping another game, Washington losing, and perhaps even Clemson dropping a pair of contests.
Go undefeated, get some help, and you might get in. Sorry guys, but the Big 12 needs to expand or something and get some good teams in here.
What’s that? Really? Oh. Never mind.