Well that about raps up the regular season. Conference championship games are coming up and they look exciting. Still a lot of twists and turns the playoff could take, so what could happen?
First, the Big Ten. Michigan State and Iowa are dueling it out in a play in game for the playoff. Winner is in. Loser is definitely out. Ohio State and Michigan are definitely out. People think something miraculous could happen if Iowa loses and still gets in. Ain’t happening. That would mean you would have three 1-loss teams from the B1g…and one of them would have beaten the other two, that would be Michigan State. No, only the Spartans or Hawkeyes get in, and that puts maximum pressure on that game. Should be fun.
In the Big 12, Oklahoma is in the playoff. Period. Nothing will get them out. In fact, they should be ranked higher than Alabama right now. Mississippi State will drop out of the rankings with their loss, meaning Alabama won’t have a win over a single ranked team. Not one. Their only saving grace would be if LSU sneaks back in the rankings. Or Wisconsin. But that’s it. Meanwhile, Oklahoma will finish with 3 straight wins, 2 on the road, against 2-loss teams. Pretty impressive. Not to mention the road comeback over Tennessee, a team that gave Alabama fits as well. I think OU has a case for #2, but we’ll see. Either way, they are in, question now is if they will be in as the 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed.
The SEC didn’t end up very interesting. What would be interesting is if Florida knocks off Alabama, a scenario that has exactly no chance whatsoever of happening. Suppose it does. Will the SEC get left out of the playoff? It would be hard to put 2-loss Alabama in over 2-loss Florida who just beat Alabama…but it would be hard to put 2-loss Florida in over 2-loss Florida State who romped Florida just yesterday. If you want the four best teams, Florida isn’t one of them, plain and simple. I could see a slate of no SEC teams to be honest. And I would love it. But it isn’t happening. Alabama is winning that game and punching their ticket to the playoff as either the 1, 2, or 3 seed without a doubt.
The ACC is intriguing as well. Clemson is in at #1 if they win, no question. North Carolina? I don’t see how you could leave them out if they beat Clemson. And they could beat Clemson. The Tigers have shown vulnerability that’s for sure. If UNC pulls that off, I would put them in over Stanford if the Cardinal beat USC again and win the Pac-12.
And speaking of, can Stanford even get in? I guess it is still possible, but seems like a total long shot. They need to beat USC first, never a gimme against that Jekyl and Hyde squad, and then hope Alabama and Clemson both lose. Then it is possible. But still a long shot.
Here is how I see it playing out:
SEC champion: Alabama over Florida
Pac-12 champion: Stanford over USC
Big Ten champion: Michigan State over Iowa
Big 12 champion: Oklahoma
ACC champion: Clemson over North Carolina
AAC champion: Houston over Temple
Orange Bowl: (1) Clemson vs (4) Michigan State
Cotton Bowl: (2) Alabama vs (3) Oklahoma
Championship: Alabama over Clemson
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs Baylor
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Ole Miss
Peach Bowl: Houston vs Iowa
But what if Florida and UNC both win their conference games? If that happens, big if, then I would see it going down like this:
(1) Oklahoma vs (4) Florida
(2) Michigan State vs (3) Stanford
Yeah you read that right. I think the Pac-12 champion Stanford would get in over the SEC champion Florida in this hypothetical. But then in the consideration of Florida or North Carolina, the SEC wins by default. I don’t think it should happen that way, but it would.
The Heisman ceremony will feature Derrick Henry, Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey. Henry wins it but in the closest three way race in the history of the award.
Here is my rankings this week:
5. Michigan State
6. Ohio State
9. North Carolina
10. Notre Dame
11. Florida State
12. Oklahoma State
17. Ole Miss