The regular season is over. Now barring a few make-up games (Cal-Stanford, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, etc.) we have seen all of it and heading into the conference championship games. But we are narrowing it down to the few that still have a shot.
TOP 5 WINNERS
(1) OHIO STATE: They answered EVERYBODY this weekend by demolishing Michigan. Of course, they key question is, will that be enough to get them in the mix for the Playoff? They need a lot of chaos for that to happen, but it is possible they can sneak in.
(2) OKLAHOMA: Sooners may have looked awful on defense but the key thing is, they escaped Morgantown with a win. And they are in great position to return to the Playoff.
(3) TEXAS A&M: 7 overtimes to beat your rival you haven’t beaten since you joined the SEC. That is what I call a program-changer.
(4) NOTRE DAME: The Irish “clinched” a spot in the Playoff (or so we think) with a tough win over USC. Is it enough to keep them in the talk assuming there is little chaos happening next weekend?
(5) GEORGIA: Georgia is on a roll after that LSU debacle. The games haven’t been close (not blowouts save for the Tech and UMass games) and seem like things are going in their direction. But everything needs to be perfect in order for the Bulldogs to beat the Tide next week.
TOP 5 LOSERS
(1) MICHIGAN: Is it a case similar to LSU and Alabama now? Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Wolverines against Ohio State. And they looked very silly on defense, which was the most dumbfounding bit. Harbaugh will have to answer a lot of questions until next year with Ohio State.
(2) WASHINGTON STATE: Was the blizzard an act of God? I don’t know, but Washington State had everything going and fell apart in the snow in Pullman Friday. So long Playoff hopes.
(3) WEST VIRGINIA: 700+ yards and still lost. Ouch. No New Year’s Six chances. And back to the “Dana Holgorsen can’t beat Oklahoma” mentality. I thought this was the year they would do it too. Nope.
(4) LSU: Despite the high ranking by the Committee, the Tigers weren’t going to sneak in to any Playoff. But they had an easy New Year’s Six game. That’s probably not happening now after that classic tilt with Texas A&M. Though to be fair, the SEC officials got a lot of those calls wrong late in the game. LSU SHOULD have won that game but I think it was a mess by the refs.
(5) FLORIDA STATE: Yeah, they weren’t good this year, but the end of their bowl run is official. But at least they aren’t Louisville right now, right?
TOP 5 QUESTIONS
(1) HAS ANYBODY (NOTABLY ALABAMA & NOTRE DAME) “CLINCHED” A PLAYOFF SPOT AFTER THIS PAST WEEKEND? Hard to say. Notre Dame is sitting at #3. To REALLY think this through and looking at any trend, the first selection had a 1-loss LSU team ahead of Notre Dame. Now, Alabama smacked LSU in Baton Rouge. Would Alabama be ahead of Notre Dame assuming Bama loses to Georgia? Honestly, I think you have to keep them ahead based on resume and body of work. And I haven’t heard anything about a no rematch rule the Committee mentioned so it’s pretty possible Alabama is in, but it’s hard to say at this point for that as well.
(2) WHAT DOES OHIO STATE NEED TO DO TO GET IN THE PLAYOFF? Buckeyes really need Alabama to beat Georgia first off. If Georgia wins, Alabama’s resume is far better than Ohio State’s (and last year’s resume comparisons were debatable; this year, not as much). Then really it will need an Oklahoma loss to Texas. But really it all depends where Ohio State makes that jump. IF they jump ahead of Oklahoma, then a win and an Alabama win. If they stay behind, then it’s a different story and they face off against a 4-loss Northwestern team which really won’t build to their resume.
(3) WILL UCF HAVE A SHOT OF GETTING INTO THE PLAYOFF? Unless all chaos takes place next weekend, no. UCF would need Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State to lose in order for them to get in. I don’t think it is any other option at this point. And I don’t see any of it happening.
(4) IS JIM HARBAUGH IN ANY TROUBLE OF LOSING HIS JOB AFTER ANOTHER LOSS TO OHIO STATE? No. While Michigan will be that school of “if you can’t beat Ohio State, what good are you?” school, Harbaugh gave the Wolverines another great run. However, he does have to improve that offense somehow. It feels like Michigan is somewhat of an LSU North where they have a great defense and a good running game, but if the passing game isn’t there, it is a mess. But the good news is Harbaugh sees Ohio State and Notre Dame in the Big House next year so who knows what may happen there. But if he struggles with the advantages he has next year, then you may have to consider some situations.
(5) WHO IS IN THE BIGGEST TROUBLE DURING CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND? Alabama obviously. Georgia has Playoff aspirations themselves and while a loss to Georgia may have Alabama still in the top 4, this will be their toughest game to date. Far tougher than LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn. Granted, I think the weaknesses Georgia has is what Alabama really builds off of (i.e. Georgia’s pass rush or lack thereof, Alabama facing “predictable” offenses, etc.), the Bulldogs aren’t a team that is going to amp themselves up 1,000 times more than what they normally get up for (a la LSU) so it may be a real four quarter game with Georgia and Alabama. It will be a very tough one for Alabama to win, by far.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat