Tonight, starts the Championship weekend in college football, when Oregon plays Utah in the Pac 12 Championship game. There are 4 other Power 5 Championship games and the AAC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Houston Cougars, which has playoff significance. Before we get to the, only in NCAA football, part of this blog, let’s look at the current playoff standings. The top ten from top to bottom are Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Mississippi, Baylor, and Oregon. Ohio State and Mississippi do not play this weekend and have little or no chance of getting into the top four. Notre Dame does not play either this weekend, but could move into the top four, depending on the outcomes of the championship games. It basically boils down to 8 teams for 4 spots. From here on in we will refer to this happening only in college football, leaving out the NCAA part, even though we know this is all their responsibility.
Only in college football would a major conference champion not have a shot at the national title. There are no Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the top 10 with Pitt being the highest ranked at no.15. There is no scenario that will put either Pitt or Wake Forest in the final four. It is very possible that as many as 3 conference champions will not have a chance at a national championship and remote possibility that only one conference champion will be in the top 4. If Alabama beats Georgia, and all the underdogs win, Alabama will most likely be the only conference champion in. College football really knows how to devalue a conference championship. Even if Oregon would win big against Utah, they have only a very slim chance of getting into the playoffs. At minimum two conference champions will not get in.
When it gets down to playoff time, other sports love the saying, it’s time to win or go home. Only in college football does that saying get changed to win and go home. This could easily happen to the Cincinnati Bearcats. If they have a real nail biter against Houston and win, and Oklahoma State wins big against Baylor, they could easily move up to the fourth spot, and push Cincinnati right out the door. Let’s face it, the pressure on Cincinnati this week is enormous on all fronts. To make the final four would be historic for a non-Power 5 Conference team. Their coach, Luke Fickell is being considered for many top coaching jobs, and there can be no movement on that until Cincinnati is out of playoff contention. It would be one of the great coaching accomplishments of all time, if Cincinnati wins the National Championship. Let’s hope if they win, they’re in, will come true. I am not too sure in the crazy college football world, that this is going to happen. On the other side of the coin, Georgia can lose, and still be in the top 4. I do not even think there is a number they could lose by, that would throw them out of the playoffs, even though I think there should be. If Alabama wins by 21 or more, which is highly unlikely, would that be enough to make the SEC prejudiced committee, remove them from the top 4. My guess is no.
Only in college football could not playing to make the playoffs be a good thing. Notre Dame, who refuses to join a football conference, does not need to have many things go right for them to make the playoffs. If Alabama loses that may be all that is needed. If Cincinnati and Oklahoma State do not look good winning, and again you could only write something like this when discussing college football, this would only solidify their position. The final four would then be Georgia Michigan Notre Dame and the toss up would be between Oklahoma State and Cincinnati, instead of Notre Dame being in the toss up equation. All Notre Dame is going to do this weekend, is to watch football just like I am. Unless there is total chaos, Notre Dame chances of playing for a title should be as remote as the other teams not playing this weekend.
Only in college football would people wonder, what is going to happen if there is total chaos. In any other sport, Iowa, Baylor, Oregon and Pitt/Wake Forest would be in the playoffs and playing for a national title if they won this weekend. The only team that might sneak in, would be Oregon, with other three teams having no chance at all. If that scenario happens then Alabama might lose and still get in, with the way the committee thinks. The above results are very unlikely to happen, but if by some chance it does, the four teams that do get in, will only get in, because it can only happen in college football. It’s a shame, because college football is one of the most entertaining team sports to watch. it is much more fun to watch than the pro game. It is a shame that the NCAA does nothing to help it out and makes a mockery of the playoff system. It is a sad commentary when the best thing you can say about the college football playoff system is that it is better than nothing. Despite that, I will enjoy the games this weekend, with a secret hope for chaos, just to see what happens in the goofy world of committee football.