A lot has been made over the first ever college football playoff and who will be in. Because of the strength of the SEC, especially the West division, many have thought up scenarios in which two SEC teams could get in. Well I’ve got news. Ain’t gonna happen. But two Big 12 teams? Very real possibility.
Let’s look at the top 8 teams right now:
1. Mississippi State – no losses
2. Oregon – one loss
3. Florida State – no losses
4. TCU – one loss
5. Alabama – one loss
6. Arizona State – one loss
7. Baylor – one loss
8. Ohio State – one loss
Mississippi State plays at Alabama this weekend. So one of them will pick up another loss. If Alabama loses, they are out of the picture. If they win, things could get interesting. And if Oregon and Arizona State win out, they would meet in the Pac-12 Championship Game. So a loss there would knock one of them out.
So under what scenario could something really goofy happen here?
1. If Alabama loses, they are out. Oregon or Arizona State will definitely lose at least one more game, so one of them is out. This now puts Baylor at #5 potentially.
2. If Florida State loses, they will dive. They lost a spot by winning, imagine what losing would do. They’ve got a golden opportunity to drop one to Miami or Florida.
3. If Baylor beats Kansas State, they get another big win on their resume.
4. If Nebraska loses to Wisconsin and the Badgers beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, then no B1G team would have one loss.
5. If Mississippi State loses to Alabama and in the Egg Bowl, they would have two losses.
Following all that? It’s possible at the end of the season we have five one loss teams: Alabama, Oregon, TCU, Baylor and Florida State. Assume for a second this happens and they are the only one loss teams outside of Colorado State or Marshall. What then?
Alabama would easily be #1 with wins over LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn and the SEC championship. Oregon would easily be #2 with wins over UCLA, Stanford, Utah, Michigan State and Arizona State. Now you are left with TCU, Baylor and Florida State. Who’s in? Where do you put them?
Florida State would have wins over Notre Dame, Clemson, Louisville and Duke (ACC Championship). In at least three of those they had to come from behind.
TCU would have wins over West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Minnesota.
Baylor would have wins over Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU.
All three would have a win over Oklahoma State, with TCU looking much better than Florida State. Baylor would have the head to head win over TCU. And don’t forget the Big 12 has (wisely) declared that if both teams win out they are co-champions, so add conference champion to the resume of all three.
What would the committee do? It would depend on when Florida State loss and how, that’s for sure. Also Baylor’s game against Kansas State would be telling. But I’m telling you, the only conference with a realistic shot of getting two teams in the playoff is the Big 12.
Now if Alabama wins out and Mississippi State wins every game left except the Alabama game, you could potentially have 6 one loss teams. However, one of those six would not be a conference champion, not even a division champion. So if it is between TCU, Baylor, Florida State and Mississippi State, I think the Bulldogs are in trouble.
There’s one other unlikely scenario here. If Mississippi State wins out then loses to Missouri in the SEC Championship, you may see some shuffling. I think Mississippi State would still be in, but then you would have Oregon likely take the #1 seed, Mississippi State take #2, then have the same discussion between TCU, Baylor and Florida State.
My guess? Ultimately Baylor’s non-conference schedule dooms them. And good riddance too. Maybe we can stop seeing the annual patsy cupcake on every SEC teams’s schedule. I hope the playoff committee makes anyone who plays 11 games instead of 12 pay for it dearly.