The great Knute Rockne once said “Most men, when they think they are thinking, are merely rearranging their prejudices.” This couldn’t be anymore true for me at this moment. My Michigan Wolverine football program is on the verge of a “Toledo Poinsettia Capitol Texas Sun Papa Johns Toilet” bowl game bid, and I’m over here still trying to calculate how we could still possibly make the College Football Playoff. Although my maize and blue most likely won’t be participating in the CFP this year, that doesn’t mean we still aren’t going to be blessed with some great matchups.
The top tier of the rankings is stacked with some traditional powerhouses. Alabama is everyone’s obvious #1 with Clemson, Miami, and Oklahoma rounding out the top 4. Now I’m a day or so ahead of the official week 13 CFP rankings, so that order may change some, but other than a flip-flop, the top 4 should remain the same. As of now, from the outside looking in, Wisconsin sits at the #5 spot with, apparently, a less than impressive 11-0 record and Georgia and Auburn round out the top 7. The only other team that realistically has a shot at the playoff at this point is Ohio State. The Buckeyes are sitting in the middle to lower half of the top ten, but still has to play Michigan and Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. There are still a bunch of games left that will decide who’s in and who’s out, but the final 4 will most likely come from the aforementioned list of teams.
Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia all have a good shot at making the playoff this year. Bama plays Auburn next week and, with a win, will play Georgia in the South-Eastern Conference Championship game. An Auburn win means they’ll be going to the SEC Championship to face Georgia and with a win there, almost guarantees themselves a spot in the top 4. In my opinion, Georgia will need to win the SEC to be in. The craziest “what if” scenario for that conference is if Auburn blows out Bama, then goes on to lose to Georgia in the championship. That’s not likely, considering how good Bama is, but its fun to think about the kind of time the committee will have trying to decipher if 2 of those teams needs to be in the playoff. I’m guessing Bama beats Auburn and Georgia, taking both those programs out of the equation and creating a less stressful environment for the committee.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has a more straight-forward scenario. Clemson and Miami, #2 and #3 respectively, play each other in a couple weeks to decide the ACC. So long as neither team slips up this week, that game should also decide if at least one of those teams makes the playoffs. But what if Miami loses a close game to Clemson, will the committee be inclined to send both to the playoff? If Miami wins a close one, does a 2-loss Clemson squad have an argument? My guess is that Miami wins a close game, leaving Clemson to watch the national semis and championship at home.
The rest of the field will work itself out accordingly. Oklahoma still has to play TCU or Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship, barring any slip-ups from now until then. The Sooners handled business a week ago, against the Horned Frogs and may have to do it again in the championship game. A loss will leave them out. The Big Ten still has a good shot at getting a team in, regardless of whether it’s Wisconsin or Ohio State. If the Badgers win out, it’s my opinion that they should be in. There’s no way the committee leaves an undefeated power 5 conference team out, but then again, I’m not a part of that committee. If Ohio State wins, they’ll need a little help. One or more of those previous wacky scenarios would have to play out for them to get in, but they’ll definitely be in the discussion, especially if they impress in that conference championship.
This committee of one, yours truly, has been running some numbers and has now finally ruled out my Wolverines from the playoff picture. With that being said, here is how I think things will play out. Alabama wins out and ends up at #1. Miami shocks Clemson with a late turnover and turnover chain recipient to end Clemson’s run and finishes at #2. Oklahoma gets in after beating either TCU in their conference championship, finishing at #3. Wisconsin will round out my final 4, after winning their first outright Big Ten Championship since 2012. The next few weeks should be a roller-coaster of a ride for the teams still in the hunt and for those who are left out, Michigan and I will be watching it home on my couch, so feel free to stop by to watch these playoff games. Just make sure to bring some chips and dip.