Making sense of the Playoff Picture8 min read
There’s a lot of big decisions to be made, a decent amount of chaos that’s bound to happen, and a lot of teams trying to make their case. The regular season is over with, and Conference Championship games with huge playoff implications await. Let’s get right in to it and break this whole thing down.
1. Alabama is in
Nick Saban could give his guys the week off and forfeit the SEC Championship game if he wanted to and probably still be the number 1 overall seed at 12-1. Unfortunately for Florida, that’s not going to happen and Alabama will win 42-6. I was down in Tuscaloosa this weekend for the Iron Bowl and it’s actually scary to think about what Nick Saban has done to the SEC. Think about the current state of some of the top tier programs and coaches in the Southeastern Conference. Gus Malzahn couldn’t score a touchdown in his rivalry game and half of the Auburn fan base wants him gone. Butch Jones and the Vols are going 8-4 again after losing to South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Florida just got obliterated against the Seminoles and is going to get obliterated again this week, which will send Gator nation right back to where it started: Wondering why their offense is abysmal and whether or not Jim McElwain is the right guy for the job. Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze can’t get NCAA allegations out of their face, people in Starkville are now convincing themselves that Dan Mullen stinks and that he just rode the Dak Prescott Train while he had him, and LSU just hired a guy who went 3-21 against the SEC last time he was a head coach and Baton Rouge still can’t get over Saban leaving them for the NFL.
Nick Saban is King of the South. I read something by our boy Clay Travis making the analogy that Saban is to the SEC what Michael Jordan was to the Eastern Conference, and that’s exactly what it is. You just have to wait patiently until he leaves in order to win a Championship again. So, got a little bit off topic, but it’s fascinating to see what Nick Saban has done to that whole conference. The entire world of college football revolves around Tuscaloosa, Alabama right now and it’s all because of Saban.
Go ahead and pencil in the Crimson Tide as the number 1 overall seed.
2. Clemson and Washington control their own destiny
I do not see a scenario where the Tigers and Huskies go 12-1, win their respective conferences, and get left out of the playoff. Colorado’s defense is going to give Jake Browning some problems, but if the same Washington team that showed up this past Saturday in The Apple Cup shows up on Friday night in Santa Clara, I can’t see this Huskies team losing. On the other side, Deshaun Watson is playing with a whole lot of confidence right now and I don’t see Virginia Tech slowing that offense down. The one thing that the committee has shown us since this playoff system started was that they value conference champions. I don’t see a scenario where either of these teams gets left out if they win this weekend.
Now, in the event that they both lose, which is highly unlikely, I guess the argument then becomes Colorado or Michigan? Michigan won the head to head by three scores back in September, but again, Colorado would be a two loss conference champion and Michigan would just be a two loss team. I think you probably lean more towards Colorado in this situation, right? If push came to shove I would expect the committee to give it to the Buffs rather than a team that has dropped two of its last three.
All that being said, the formula is easy for the Huskies and Tigers. Just win and you’ll be playing on New Years Eve.
3. The Big Ten definitely gets one team in. The question is who?
This is going to be the talk all week. Which Big Ten team do you take in the event that Clemson and Washington win? Here’s my take.
If Wisconsin beats Penn State…
I think if Wisconsin beats Penn State on Saturday night, the Buckeyes get the nod. I don’t care about the 2 loss vs 1 loss thing at all. If the argument for Ohio State is that Wisconsin lost to a Michigan team by one score in early October, you’re taking Wisconsin. This is why Ohio State fans are contradicting the hell out of themselves right now, which I’ll explain later. The reason I take Ohio State is because they went in to Camp Randall and beat Wisconsin head to head. Wisconsin will have one hell of an argument if they lift up that Championship trophy on Saturday night, but I would take the Buckeyes over the Badgers as the last team in.
If Penn State beats Wisconsin…
This becomes a much more interesting discussion. If Penn State wins on Saturday, The Nittnay Lions are going to the playoff. They would be Division champs, Conference champs, and would have beaten Ohio State head to head. If the argument for Ohio State is that Penn State lost an in state rivalry game to Pitt, the same Pitt team that went in to Death Valley in prime time and beat Clemson by the way, then you’ve got a weak argument. This is why I said that OSU fans are contradicting themselves in this whole thing. If Wisconsin wins, Ohio State fans immediately jump to the head to head match up, but if Penn State wins they jump straight to the 2 loss vs 1 loss thing. Playing the game HAS to matter, and James Franklin’s bunch beat Urban Meyer’s.
Division Champs + Conference Champs + Head to Head winner = Penn State in the playoff over the Buckeyes.
*Now, a VERY important piece to keep in mind here. When the next rankings come out, Ohio State will probably be ranked #2. Do not for one second believe that just because they are #2 right now means they get in, just ask Gary Patterson and the TCU Horned Frogs of 2014. They were in, didn’t play in a conference championship game, and then got bounced out. If OSU is 2, Clemson and Washington will pass them with wins, and Penn State will jump up to 5 with a win. So, you’ll have OSU at 4 and PSU at 5, naturally, before the committee has to make a decision. PSU then would jump OSU, in my opinion, and get that number 4 spot.*
4. The Big Twelve needs an eight team playoff
Even with every chaotic situation imaginable, the winner of this weeks Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State game can’t get in to the playoff. The Sooners and Cowboys are playing for a trip to the Sugar Bowl this Saturday. The Big 12 commissioner HAS to be the guy pushing for an eight team playoff, because he needs an automatic bid for this conference. The winner of this game in that situation would be playing for that number 8 seed, which would make it much more interesting all season long.
But, stop holding out hope if you’re a Sooner or Cowboy fan, this game has no playoff implications.
5. Let’s just take a quick look at a couple coaching moves that have been made so far
Tom Herman – Texas
You know the saying, “sometimes you don’t have to be the hottest chick at the party, you just gotta be the only chick at the party”, that’s Tom Herman. Herman lost to Navy, SMU, and Memphis, and was the hottest commodity on the coaching market. I think Tom Herman can coach, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered still. If you’re making over 5 million dollars in Austin, you better find a way to go 9-3 next year. He has to win recruiting battles against TCU, A&M, Baylor, and Texas Tech, keep kids in state and #MakeTexasGreatAgain
Ed Orgeron – LSU
Firing the most successful coach in the history of your school to hire Coach O is a bold move to say the least. Ole Ed is 21-28 all time as a head coach and went 3-21 against the SEC at Ole Miss. LSU is one of the top 5 best jobs in college football and they just gave it to Ed Orgeron. The team seems to love him and hopefully he can recruit, but I don’t know if I would have pulled the trigger on Coach O. There’s no scenario where Coach O beats Nick Saban, you just have to understand that now if you’re LSU. That being said, 100% rooting for the guy. How could you not?!
Coach O, Football guy.
So that’s that for the playoff picture. We’ll see how it plays out and what the committee does. This is not the toughest decision the committee has had to make, but it is the most important one. They have valued conference champions all along, so we will see what happens. Best of luck to all of your teams this weekend, and keep enjoying every minute of college football while we still have it.