Week 11 brought with it some intriguing matchups that had major impacts on what this years College Football Playoff will look like. Some teams helped their chances and some saw their chances take a hit.
The second set of CFP rankings will be released tomorrow night, and while which teams are in that top four and which ones aren’t will spark plenty of conversation, the fact is there is still going to be movement between now and end of the regular season. Possibly lots of movement.
Week 11 did start to clear some things up for us though. Two teams that controlled their own destiny, do not anymore. Lets take a look at the weekends winners and losers.
It seems that the defending national champs fell victim to the CFP committee’s “dream scenario” regarding how the regular season plays out. That top four matchup of B1G teams they so badly tried to manufacture still isn’t going to happen. The committee looks even more foolish now for claiming Penn State passed the “eye test” and their loss to Minnesota guarantees Clemson cracks the top four in the next rankings.
This Clemson team has also been the victim of a terrible ACC. That’s right, the ACC is pretty bad this season. Maybe even historically bad. That has left the Tigers with no margin for error. Having said that, they still control their own destiny. Win and they’re in. However, leaving them out of that top four initially only served as more motivation and that is bad news for any team standing in their way.
The Golden Gophers went out and showed the committee they backed the wrong horse opposite Ohio State in the B1G. Despite Penn State having more passing yards and rushing yards, Minnesota thoroughly outplayed them. The final score of 31-26 was not indicative of how this game played out. There was no doubt who the better team was. It will be interesting to see how far they jump up the rankings this week. Like Clemson, they control their own fate.
LSU might have been the biggest winners of the weekend. Their win in Tuscaloosa all but guarantees them a spot in the playoff, barring a collapse of epic proportions. This was another one in which the final score wasn’t indicative of how the game played out. The Tigers led 33-13 at the half, prompting a couple of dozen tweets from Bama fans calling for Nick Saban’s firing. LSU QB Joe Burrow led two 75 yard TD drives in the 4th quarter to thwart off the Tide’s attempt at a comeback, and those drives probably locked up the Heisman for him.
The NIttany Lions were exposed as the pretenders they are, showing the nation that they had no business being ranked in the top four. This is not a playoff team. They would get smoked. It is possible that could still happen. They do still control their own destiny, but there’s no way this team is beating Ohio State.
The Sooners already have one bad loss at home to Kansas State on their resume. Now they can add the dreaded “close win” over a ranked team on there. After leading Iowa State 42-21 at the start of the 4th quarter, they gave up 20 unanswered points to the Cyclones and had to stop a 2 point conversion attempt with 24 seconds left to escape with the win. What looked to be an improved Sooners defense has regressed, and now resembles the one they fielded last season. Now that they have a close win and a bad loss, the question becomes can they get in over a 1 loss non SEC Champion if they win out.
As college football fans, we’re all very aware of the biases that come into play as far as the media is concerned. Without question, there’s an SEC bias as that conference is still living off of its heyday from the BCS years. There’s also a B1G bias, particularly for Ohio State and Michigan.
However, there’s no bias like the Bama bias. After losing to LSU, the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) still has the Tide rated above that same LSU team. How’s that even possible? Needless to say, the Tide’s chances of returning to the playoff took a hit over the weekend. This isn’t 2017 when they were only competing with a 2 loss B1G champ Ohio State for a playoff spot. It is looking like there will be a one loss Pac 12 champ and a 1 loss Big 12 champ. If Baylor can run the table the Big 12 will have an unbeaten champ.
That means the path for Alabama back to the playoff looks a lot murkier now. They are probably going to need help, as in some other teams to lose. They might be #4 in the next rankings but if a team like Oregon, Utah, or Baylor keeps winning, they are probably in trouble. It is possible they could be in trouble if Oklahoma wins out, although I wouldn’t bet on it.
This one gets filed under “should get hurt but won’t.” With a loss to UofSC on the resume, Georgia should have never been the highest ranked one loss team to begin with. Now that the Gamecocks went out and dropped a home game to a G5 team in App State, that loss should hurt even more. Problem is, it won’t.