Welcome back to the Funvee Tailgate! After my rant about the first CFP rankings ran a little long, I decided to separate my reaction to the poll into its own post. There were thoughts I had to both cut short and leave off of last week’s post so I’d like to take this time to expand those ideas; especially as we rapidly approach the final weeks of the regular season. So without further ado, LET’S FIRE UP THE TAILGATE!
The Deck is Shuffling:
The top three spots remain unchanged with Bama, Clemson, and Michigan but Washington moves into the CFP Top Four after being snubbed last week in favor of Texas A&M despite UW being #4 in the AP Poll last week. The committee actually made the logical move this week by putting the only remaining undefeated major conference team into the Playoff. I heard a few people on a few podcasts and on SportsCenter trying to use “committee logic” in picking the fourth team and thinking that Ohio State’s dismantlement of Nebraska last was a “good Top 10 win” to propel them into fourth. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been as big of a shock as A&M at four was last week primarily since A&M seemed so far out of left field. This week, we were more on guard so Washington actually being where they should be almost bores the masses. Bring on the madness!
The team in the Top Ten that I would not sleep on is Wisconsin. The Badgers now control their own destiny in the Big Ten West and it frankly shouldn’t be too hard to win the West as they face Illinois and Purdue before a showdown with (currently unranked) Minnesota. The UW/UM game may as well be joined with the Michigan/OSU games as the Big Ten Semifinals since both could determine their division’s representative in the Big Ten Championship the very next week. Now you may remember my “pricing-in theory” that I applied to Penn State last week; you may be wondering why the Gophers aren’t even ranked. Minnesota plays Nebraska this weekend on the road and although the Huskers have lost two-straight games, they’re still a good squad. In other words, the committee is pricing-in that Minnesota/Wisconsin doesn’t determine the Big Ten West Champ.
Where the “pricing-in theory” gets fun is in the Pac 12. I barely touched on it last week but it’s still ridiculous that Penn State is higher ranked than Colorado and the other Pac 12 schools. It became less ridiculous this week as a few teams dropped off but here’s where the theory gets fun and actually might give Penn State the #10 ranking: the Pac 12 South is WIDE open. We’ll start from the bottom and go up: USC is in the CFP rankings for the first time this season as they play two more conference games these next two Friday nights. The Trojans travel north to play Washington this week. If they take down the Huskies and win next week at UCLA, they could make the Pac 12 Championship Game; but they’d need help. Both Utah and Colorado have three more conference games including a showdown against each in the final weekend of the season. I alluded to it last week, but the team ranked #15 in the first CFP poll has made the playoff as the #4 seed. This year’s #15 team last week: Colorado.
Of course, Colorado making the playoff would require some help and probably the biggest debate of the playoff. Assume Bama, Clemson, and Michigan win out AND Washington and Louisville finish with only one loss. Would Colorado deserve to make it? Sure, they just beat Washington so throw them out, but how about Louisville? They played Clemson very close in their only loss and would be 11-1 to Colorado’s 11-2. Further, you make the argument that Ohio State is the best two-loss team so they deserve to make the playoff over the Buffs. This is the predicament for the Big XII. Unless West Virginia wins out, which is a gauntlet, the Big XII Champion will have two losses and this two-loss champ could very well be Oklahoma. The very same Oklahoma squad who lost to a now unranked Houston and got KILLED by Ohio State. It really just seems that the Big XII won’t be in the Playoff, again.
We’re starting to get into the highly speculative territory so I’ll cut the rants and theories off here. I’ll be back on Friday with the usual weekend preview. Let me know what you think of this mid-week tailgate and absolutely let me know who your Final Four are and who will make the jump. I didn’t even get into Western Michigan or the potential madness in the ACC so please comment away!