Week 11 - A Saturday of Sadness
By Martin Magers
Michigan, Washington, and Clemson all entered the weekend with an undefeated record and a top 5 ranking. Clemson and Michigan both appeared to be poised to remain perfect until last minute field goals from Pittsburgh and Iowa, respectively, handing each their first loss of the year. Washington, on the other hand, trailed nearly the entire game and lost to USC.
What does it mean for each team? For Clemson and Michigan, the losses likely do not affect their chances of making the playoff. Both teams, if they win out, will win their respective conference championships and would be near locks to be invited to the playoff. Before this weekend, there was discussion that Michigan might sneak its way into the playoff even with a close loss on the road against Ohio State the final week of the regular season, but that was assuming they would beat Iowa and Indiana en route to Columbus. With the loss to Iowa, that possibility was erased. The loss appears to hurt Clemson more than the others. Unlike Michigan and Clemson though, Washington would not be quite as certain to make the playoff even with a perfect record the rest of the way.
What about Ohio State?
Though Ohio State appears poised to slide to #2 in the college football rankings, they may not truly control their destiny. Even if Ohio State wins out, Penn State would represent the Big Ten East in the conference championship game if the Nittany Lions are able to beat Rutgers and Michigan State, both very winnable games. Some analysts think Ohio State would still be invited to the playoff even without a conference championship on their resumé, but consider this guy skeptical. If Penn State wins out, Michigan falls to Ohio State, and Penn State beats Wisconsin the Big Ten Championship, Penn State would boast wins over two top 10 teams, a conference championship, and losses to Michigan and Pittsburgh who, by the way, just beat Clemson in Death Valley. In that scenario, Penn State would certainly be invited to the playoff over Ohio State. Would the committee consider taking Ohio State instead of a one loss Power 5 conference champion? We’ll see...
What about Western Michigan?
Seeing the Broncos in the playoff would be a fantastic storyline. Until the NCAA figures out a way to expand the playoff to 8 teams, however, the chance of seeing a team such as Western Michigan in the playoff approaches zero.
What about Alabama?
Yeah, they’re still Alabama, and they’re still taking care of business.