The final countdown: Jostling the order of 1-loss Playoff contenders
Five conferences and a stubborn independent have their bags packed.
Their flight to the College Football Playoff is oversold, however, which means somebody’s staying home.
Who goes? Who doesn’t?
A Week 13 look at the one-loss (and potential one-loss) hopefuls.
RELATED: College Football Playoff Poll
10. Ohio State (10-1) — The Buckeyes’ home loss to Michigan State all but assured them of missing out on the Big Ten Championship Game. Without that title, they’re done.
9. North Carolina (10-1) — The Tar Heels’ already had the worst loss (South Carolina) among contenders, then the Gamecocks went out and lost to an FCS team. (UNC is 2-0 against FCS teams this season, which means they’ve played more FCS teams than Top 20 teams — none so far.)
Will be interesting to see how CFP committee weighs SOS this week. Iowa 3rd weakest SOS in P5, UNC 4th weakest, Baylor 6th weakest.
— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) November 23, 2015
Everybody in baby blue is banking on an upset of Clemson in the ACC Championship Game to propel the Tar Heels into the Final Four. That would be impressive, but it would be their only win against a Top 20 team.
After what happened to the Big 12 last year, there’s no way the Selection Committee can reward a team with that schedule this year. That’s probably why the No. 14 Tar Heels still are behind three 2-loss teams in the playoff poll.
They’ll have to wait until basketball season to reach a Final Four.
8. Clemson (11-0) — Whatever wiggle room Clemson might have had going into its showdown Saturday at Williams-Brice — inspired rival playing out of its mind, one of those days, Darius Rucker calling plays — is gone.
Clemson can’t lose to South Carolina and make the Final Four.
If Notre Dame wins out, there is a better chance of the ACC being shut out — i.e, UNC knocking off Clemson — than in a one-loss ACC team getting in.
7. Iowa (11-0) — Same scheduling neighborhood as UNC, but give the Hawkeyes credit for winning their two most difficult games (Wisconsin, Northwestern) on the road. And, like UNC, they also beat Pitt by 3 — they just haven’t talked about it the rest of the season.
So the Hawkeyes are deserving of being in the mix — and it doesn’t matter now that they’re “in” or ranked one spot above Michigan State. If they lose once, they’re done.
6. Oklahoma State (10-1) — The Cowboys would need Baylor and a few others to lose Saturday. Oh, and they have to beat the Big 12’s hottest team, Oklahoma. But that closing game gives them an opportunity, which is more than those behind them have.
5. Baylor (9-1) — The Bears’ victory over the Cowboys kept them in contention. And they’ll have two more opportunities to sway voters. If there are no unbeatens, and all four spots are open, it’s not impossible to see the Bears finish 11-1 with closing wins over ranked TCU and Texas and jump in.
4. Notre Dame (10-1) — We’ve heard a lot about how tough the Fighting Irish’s schedule has been. They plastered Pitt, which helps, but the truth is Oklahoma has played more highly regarded teams than the Irish. The Georgia Tech win looked good on Sept. 19, but the Yellow Jackets completely fell apart. USC, Temple are quality teams, too, but Notre Dame barely put away a Boston College team that has lost seven straight.
The selection committee dropped the Irish two spots to No. 6 and sent them a stern warning: Make a strong closing argument Saturday at Stanford. Or else.
3. Oklahoma (10-1) — Good to see the selection committee agrees. The Sooners have the best loss — to rival, at time when its coach was fighting to keep his job — coupled with consecutive, impressive wins over ranked teams, overcoming an injured QB in the process. If the Sooners finish it Saturday by winning at Oklahoma State, nobody will have closed the season in more impressive fashion.
2. Michigan State (10-1) — Forget what the polls say. The Spartans might be the second best team in the nation (behind Alabama). They won on a fluke and lost on a fluke and then dominated Ohio State, in Columbus, with a backup QB. If they win the Big Ten title, start the party, Sparty.
1. SEC champion — A one-loss SEC champion, most likely Alabama, is a lock. Florida, however unlikely that seems now, would be too.
Where it gets really interesting is if Alabama loses Saturday to rival Auburn, then crushes Florida in Atlanta.
Could a 2-loss SEC champion make the field?
Better question: Could there really be a playoff without an SEC team?