Midseason Playoff Preview

We’re halfway through the season and well over half the teams in college football have been eliminated from playoff contention. Let’s look at who remains and what their chances are.

American Athletic

Only East Carolina has a realistic chance here. Had they not lost to South Carolina it would be much more realistic. What they need is for South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina to win some games to help their strength of schedule. Temple and UCF would give them a little boost as well. They still need a lot of help, and I mean a lot. They would have to be the only one loss team in the country at the end of the season to have a chance here. They are set up well for a good New Year’s Bowl however.

ACC

Florida State and Georgia Tech are the only ones with a shot. Duke has a horrible non-conference schedule that isn’t strong enough to overcome their one loss. Georgia Tech still gets Clemson and Georgia, and if they win out and win the ACC championship game, there is a chance they can get in there. Florida State has the better route as they already beat Oklahoma State and Clemson. They still have Notre Dame and Florida however, and that’s not to mention a tough Louisville defense, an upstart Virginia squad and a rival in Miami. Florida State will likely lose at least one game, but as long as it isn’t the ACC championship, I think they’re in pretty easily.

Big 12

Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State all have a chance. Any one of them can win the conference. Oklahoma and TCU already have a conference loss to worry about, so they are a step behind. But both Kansas State and Oklahoma State still have to play everyone else on the list in the Big 12. Too much parity in this conference for someone to come away with just one loss. Baylor is set up best to do so, but it’s more than likely the Big 12 champion comes away with two losses I think. A one loss Big 12 champion is in for sure, no question. A two loss champion could be cutting it close, depending on how the rest of the conferences shake out. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the Big 12 champion ends up in the playoff however. Baylor only has two road games left and closes the season with three straight at home. I have to give them the edge.

Big Ten

Michigan State is clearly the favorite here. I don’t see Ohio State having a shot at getting in with the poor schedule strength. Minnesota can win out and potentially get in as well with only a loss to TCU. There are 6 one-loss teams in the Big Ten: Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. Michigan State and Minnesota boast the strongest losses. But neither of them has very easy schedules to finish the season. Of all those one-loss teams though, Michigan State easily has the best chance at winning the conference with only one loss. Ohio State has to hope they beat Michigan State and Minnesota and that each of them still has just one loss when the Buckeyes play them. Most likely scenario though is that the Big Ten champion is in the playoff if they have one loss and the Big 12 and Pac-12 champions have two losses.

Conference USA

Marshall will probably go undefeated, but with the easiest schedule in history, they won’t get a look for the playoff. However it will be close to see between them and East Carolina who ends up being the highest ranked non-power conference champion and gets the auto bid to the New Year’s Bowl.

Independents

Notre Dame is still in the running, but upcoming games against Florida State, Arizona State, Louisville and USC don’t look promising. If they go undefeated they are definitely in the playoff though. A one loss Notre Dame needs a lot of help.

MAC, MWC, Sun Belt

Not a chance.

Pac-12

Perhaps the most intriguing of the conferences. There are 6 one-loss teams plus 3 two-loss teams that all have a realistic shot at the playoff. Cal, Washington State and Colorado are definitely out. The other 9 can all win out and win the conference. All those teams still get to play each other, plus USC gets Notre Dame, so lots left to be figured out here. Oregon’s win over Michigan State is still going to go a long way in helping them get in. But you can’t really count out anyone yet. A two-loss Pac-12 champion seems like a shoe-in for the playoff, but if there are a lot of one loss teams at the end of the season, that may be questionable. I don’t see how you deny the champion from the second best conference though. I’m thinking it will be a two loss Oregon.

SEC

Does anyone know what’s going on in this conference? Talking heads keep predicting two SEC teams in the playoff like a bunch of morons. Let me lay it out for you clearly:

Kentucky and Georgia still have to play, so at most only one team from the SEC east will have one loss.
Alabama and Auburn still have to play, so only one of them can finish the season with one loss. Auburn also has to play Georgia and Ole Miss, so both Alabama schools could end up with two or more losses.
Mississippi State still has Alabama and Ole Miss.
Ole Miss still has Auburn and Mississippi State.
There is also an SEC championship game to think about.

What does all of this mean? It means it is virtually impossible to have more than 2 one-loss teams from the SEC. Chances are Georgia is meeting up with one of the Mississippi schools for the SEC championship. If they both win out to get there and the other Mississippi school has just one loss, then Georgia would have to win the championship for a second SEC team to get a sniff of the playoff. And that’s counting on THREE teams in the SEC to win out. If the SEC is so good and so talented and so deep, there’s no chance of a team coming away undefeated, much less three of them coming away with just one loss. Everyone in the SEC will have at least two losses except for whichever team from the west wins the conference, likely one of the Mississippi schools. And their conference champion is definitely in and definitely the No. 1 seed.

Prediction

Obviously someone will get screwed, no doubt about it. But here’s how it’s going to work.

1. The SEC champion is in, regardless of record.
2. The Pac-12 champion is in if they have one loss.
3. The Big 12 champion is in if they have one loss or less.
4. The ACC champion is in if they have one loss or less and is named Florida State.
5. Notre Dame is in if they are undefeated.
6. The Big Ten champion is in if they have one loss and Notre Dame has at least one loss and the ACC champion has two losses or is not named Florida State.

Follow all that? I’m predicting Mississippi State wins the SEC and is in as the No. 1 overall seed. I’m predicting Oregon wins out and finishes with one loss and is in as the No. 2 seed. I’m predicting that Baylor wins the Big 12 with one loss and is in as the No. 3 seed. I’m predicting Florida State finishes with one loss but wins the ACC and is in as the No. 4 seed. I’m also predicting Notre Dame finishes with two losses as does the Big Ten champion.

So the semi-final bowls will be:

Rose: Oregon vs Baylor
Sugar: Mississippi State vs Florida State

For the other New Year’s bowls I think this will happen:

Orange: Virginia vs Ole Miss
Cotton: Oklahoma vs Michigan State
Fiesta: Marshall vs Arizona State
Peach: Georgia vs Notre Dame

Remember you read it here first folks.

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