The following is part of a 10-part series, wherein I (Connor O’Gara) outline 10 chaos scenarios for the 2024 college football season. These are not predictions. These are, however, things that could happen that would create a significant ripple effect in the sport.

What is chaos, you ask? Last year, Texas beating Alabama caused chaos because it was the preamble for Texas’ return to the national spotlight while the Tide had “sky is falling” energy that prompted a QB change and a discussion about Nick Saban’s future. Saban’s retirement was also chaos because it prompted 4 FBS coaching vacancies, as well as raises for coaches who were reportedly targeted as his successor.

Chaos can come in non-Saban ways, too. Florida State getting left out of the Playoff as a 13-0 team was chaos, as was Deion Sanders beating defending national title runner-up TCU in his Colorado debut. Chaos can come in a variety of forms.

So far, we did:

Today is the fourth installment of the 10-part series for 2024 …

The year was 2007, and the college football season was like a 5-year-old’s birthday party.

Everywhere you went, chaos. Oh, a No. 2 team loses to an unranked team? No big deal. We’ll just put Cal, South Florida, Boston College, Rutgers, Kansas and West Virginia at No. 2. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like they’ll keep getting table-topped by little Timmy running through the kitchen because he downed 2 slices of birthday cake and his blood sugar is basically exploding out of his body.

On the contrary, that’s exactly what’ll keep happening.

The only difference between a 5-year-old’s birthday party and the 2007 season was that the latter had more people crying by the end of it. Yeah, I said the latter. The 2007 season wasn’t for the faint of heart.

I mean, here’s all you need to know. Two-loss LSU won the SEC Championship and left Atlanta under the impression that it wouldn’t have any shot of playing for a national title because No. 2 West Virginia was set to face 4-7 Pitt that night. On top of that, No. 1 Mizzou could lock in a national championship berth by beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship that night while No. 3 Ohio State was idle as a 1-loss team and unlikely to get jumped by 2-loss LSU.

But wait! There’s more!

LSU’s flight back to Baton Rouge that night was, as Jacob Hester told me, “like stuff you see in movie turbulence.” Forget playing for a national championship — 2-loss LSU was just hoping to land the plane.

That’s how chaotic 2007 was.

Nearly 17 years later, LSU remains the only 2-loss team that won a national title during the BCS/Playoff era. That 2007 season is unmatched in terms of chaos. It was so chaotic that saying any season since then “feels like 2007” is a slap in the face to the 5-year-old birthday party that was 2007.

In order for Chaos Scenario No. 4 to play out, it doesn’t need to be a repeat of 2007. More likely is that soon, 2007 LSU will have company as a 2-loss national champ. Welcome to the 12-team Playoff era.

So if it’s “likely” that we’ll soon get another 2-loss team who wins a national title, why is that chaotic? Fair question.

It’s chaotic because if it happens in the first year of the 12-team Playoff era, the college football purists will have weapons drawn. They’ll point out the insignificance of the regular season and claim that the sport has lost its way, all for the sake of the almighty dollar.

Related: Looking to place a bet on the 2024 Heisman Trophy winner? SDS has you covered with all the latest odds!

There was fear that would be the case in the 4-team Playoff era, but a 2-loss team never broke through and earned a spot in the field. It’s not that it was impossible — 2016 Penn State and 2017 Auburn had the most realistic shots heading into conference championship weekend — but the 4-team Playoff era was mostly seen as a double-elimination tournament.

We don’t know how many losses it’ll take to get eliminated from national championship contention in the 12-team Playoff. We will have 3-loss teams that get into the field. That’s inevitable. And no, it won’t just be “SEC bias” that yields that. A team like 2022 Kansas State or 2021 Utah would’ve made the field with 3 losses, as would have 2019 Wisconsin and 2018 Washington.

If a team like that wins a title, yes, there’ll be pushback. There’ll be frustration that the regular season didn’t matter more.

The chaos scenario that purists would hate would be if a 10-2 Ohio State or a 9-3 Georgia snuck into the field and then won it all. The gripe would be that schools with more depth and talent are being given a free pass to win a national title in ways that not even the 4-team Playoff catered to.

In reality, that scenario playing out in 2024 won’t necessarily make it the new norm. It will, however, make a more inclusive Playoff format feel like it’s perhaps becoming even more exclusive if those schools get more grace than ever.

Gone are the days in which a 2023 Georgia is left out of the field entirely for 1 SEC Championship loss to Alabama. That’s a given, regardless of who wins a national title. If casual college football fans somehow haven’t processed that reality yet, now is the time to do so.

The casual fan can applaud chaos when it happens in the 2007 form. That’s organic chaos. A multi-loss team winning a title in the first year of the expanded Playoff would feel like manufactured chaos. Sure, plenty of fan bases would be fully on board. I’m sure Utah fans and Kansas State fans will appreciate mid-November inclusion in the Playoff discussion. We’ll debate strength of schedule in ways we never have because no longer will we go into late November with all but 5-6 teams eliminated from Playoff contention.

Related: Looking to place a bet on the 2024 national championship winner? SDS has you covered with all the latest odds!

Make of that what you will. The purists could make of it that teams will start having players sit with Playoff berths locked in. There’s fear that Rivalry Week could turn into Week 18 of the NFL season. That might be a bit overblown and there also might be situations in which we long for the 4-team Playoff days if there are 11-0 teams that are resting players because they know that a conference title berth and likely a 12-team Playoff spot is already locked in. Even with a loss to drop to 11-1, playing in a conference title game to get 1 of those 4 byes — those go to the 4 highest-ranked conference champs — is still on the table.

Sure, there’s no amount of uproar that the purists can create that would cause college football’s decision-makers to get back to the 4-team Playoff. Those contracts are signed and soon, those checks will be cashed. The hay is in the barn.

But if the first 12-team Playoff champ is a 9-3 regular season team or a 10-2 team that can’t win its own conference, there’ll be more pushback on a national champ than we’ve had in recent memory. Well, I suppose Michigan did just win a national title on the heels of the Connor Stalions scandal. We mustn’t ever forget that. There would, however, be a different reception to a multi-loss national champ than we had in 2007. In some ways, maybe it would rival the way things played out in 2011 with Alabama losing to LSU in the “Game of the Century,” only to get another crack in the national championship.

Should that be the takeaway? I don’t believe so. The positive of the 12-team Playoff is that it ensures that a national champ will earn a title by closing with at least 3 wins against top-12 opponents. You’re not winning a title by getting some cakewalk. Even the purists can’t deny that.

What hangs in the balance is the value of the regular season. Crowing a champ who might not be “the best team that season” and who just “put it together at the right time” would cause chaos.

Like stuff you see in movie turbulence.

Chaos scenario No. 5 will continue tomorrow. To spoil all 10 chaos scenarios for yourself, watch the full breakdown, as discussed on The Saturday Down South Podcast.