About halfway through Saturday’s slate of games, it looked as if there was going to be a massive shift in the College Football Playoff rankings come Tuesday.
Indeed, top teams just … kept … losing.
In all, college football’s day of reckoning ended with losses from the Nos. 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 14 teams in the country. There were hardly enough teams left in the top 10 that didn’t lose to overtake the ones that did.
To make matters worse, three of the teams that went down suffered their first loss of the season, while most of the teams to escape Saturday unscathed were already carrying two.
But one thing is for sure: Alabama will be the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation in every poll, power ranking and formula that is released this week — including the College Football Playoff rankings, which come out at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
So that leaves the question of who will join the Crimson Tide in the top four? If the season ended yesterday, today or Tuesday — which, thankfully, it does not — who would top-seeded Alabama be pegged to play?
Let’s have a look:
2. Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ loss at Penn State is looking more and more like a blip on the radar, and Penn State continues to make the win look like less of a fluke. Ohio State continued its run of dominance against mediocre Big Ten teams with a 62-3 win over Maryland on Saturday. As Milhouse might say, everything’s coming up Buckeyes.
This one gives me pause. But we have to think how the committee thinks. It’s a given Michigan, Clemson and Washington have to be punished in the rankings — at least temporarily — for losses this weekend. But Louisville already lost to Clemson. And the Cardinals’ slate of wins doesn’t exactly consist of world beaters. But they have reeled off five straight wins and are the only team in the playoff picture with one loss that isn’t aforementioned Ohio State and didn’t lose Saturday.
Here’s where things get dicey. The chances of both ACC teams making the playoff are slim to none, but as we stand after Week 11, it’s the most-plausible scenario. The Tigers have looked shaky all season and were finally taken down Saturday by Pittsburgh. The committee can clear its conscience by dropping Clemson two spots, setting up a rematch of last season’s national championship game. The biggest knock on previously undefeated Michigan was that it hadn’t been tested on the road — wins over Rutgers and Michigan State were its only two road games before Iowa — and when the Wolverines finally were, they came up short.
On the outside looking in are one-loss Michigan and Washington. If either team wins out — for Michigan, that means beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten title game and for Washington, beating Washington State and winning the Pac-12 title game — it has good odds at squeaking into the playoff.
Any two-loss contender still needs help. That includes Wisconsin and Penn State, both of which are still alive in the Big Ten, as the most likely beneficiaries of any additional madness ahead of them. Oklahoma and Colorado, maybe Utah, could sneak in with plenty of help and, obviously, winning out.
But, as we saw this weekend, anything can happen. Well, maybe except an Alabama loss.