The Chaos of the 2021 Season and A Predicament for the College Football Playoff Committee
I talked a few months ago about all the chaos and why it was happening. Factors such as the super seniors and misrepresentations from the COVID-19 filled 2020 season had mostly everything to do with what has led to being one of the more enjoyable college football seasons in recent memory.
But this has also led to some controversy in the few College Football Playoff Committee’s polls thus far. Whether it has been Alabama at two, Oregon or Ohio State at three, Cincinnati not in the top four, Notre Dame too low, or the debate about why Michigan State should have been ahead of Michigan-there have been many eyebrows raised. But most of that is in the past and we now have, once again, a new playoff picture.
No “Chaos” From Here on Out Example:
If you want parody for the playoff, you want Georgia to win out. I mean, who wants to see Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia – especially two teams from the same conference – in the playoffs? The committee does, especially if the participating schools offer the sport a lot of money or have the pedigree – which those schools do. Remember this in the examples I am about to give.
If Georgia, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame win out:
2. Ohio State
3. Oklahoma State
Why I favor Oklahoma State over Notre Dame in this scenario
If Notre Dame wins out, then they will finish 11-1 with their only loss coming at home to Cincinnati. If Oklahoma State wins out, they will be 12-1 with a Big Twelve championship. This is vital because the committee values (at least they said they do) conference championships. Notre Dame is not in a conference and does not play in a conference championship. However, Oklahoma State does not have the pedigree Notre Dame does – we will see if that comes into play if this scenario shapes up. Alabama does not make it in with Alabama having now two losses – one to Texas A&M and the other to Georgia.
If Alabama, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame win out:
2. Ohio State
4. Oklahoma State
If the Crimson Tide win out, they will make the playoff. But the bigger question is where the committee would put them. Number one? This would make the most sense since Alabama and Georgia just faced in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) Championship game, and it would not make sense for these two to face each other in the first round of the playoff (and Georgia would not drop to number four with just one loss – especially if it were to Alabama and considering how dominant Georgia has been this year)
And Oklahoma State, at least in this scenario, would be the most likely number four option. It would not be Cincinnati, knowing the committee will do everything in their power to not include a group of five team. Notre Dame would not make it in at all in this scenario. For one, the committee cannot afford to put the Irish in because that move would make the committee look like complete liars because they have stressed the importance of conference championships – something Oklahoma State would have, and the Irish would not – and Notre Dame would still have to hop over the Bearcats in the rankings as well but Cincinnati would have a head to head victory over the Irish which, at least so far, the committee values, but then again, Notre Dame has more pedigree so we will see about this scenario as well.
As you can see, Notre Dame, despite what the rankings suggest now, is stuck. All because they do not play in a conference and therefore do not qualify for a conference championship. For Notre Dame to make the playoff, they need complete chaos. So, what would “complete chaos” look like?
The Only Way Notre Dame Gets In: Complete Chaos
Chaos example one:
The Big Ten East Representative loses in the B1G Championship. If this happens, the B1G knocks themself out of the playoff with one example with the Buckeyes beating the Wolverines – giving Michigan their second loss and Ohio State losing in the Conference Championship giving the Buckeyes their second loss. The same thing can be said about Michigan. But Notre Dame would need “chaos” to occur in the Big Ten or in the Big Twelve.
Chaos example two:
If the Big Twelve beats up on itself and hands every team in the conference at least two losses. Right now, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both have only one loss. While the committee does not respect the Sooners right now, you can never count out Oklahoma because of their.... you guessed it – pedigree. Now, OU cannot lose again as they would have two losses and that would knock them out for sure. But if they win out, it could get interesting since they would have not one, but two victories against Oklahoma State (two ranked wins there) and a conference championship. It does not look like this will happen right now, but again; it is Oklahoma. And for Oklahoma State, if they win out, it is all but over for Notre Dame unless the Big Ten example I gave above occurs.
If the B1G example occurs with Georgia, Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame winning out:
2. Oklahoma State
4. Notre Dame
If the Big Twelve example occurs with Georgia, Ohio State, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame winning out:
2. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
If both the B1G and the Big Twelve have the “chaos” and Georgia, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame win out:
If both examples occur it would be very wild. I think at that point it might come down to how bad Alabama was to lose to Georgia in the SEC championship. Here is how I think the committee would rank the four teams if this “complete chaos” occurs:
4. Notre Dame
If Alabama loses in a close game against Georgia - nonetheless - and everyone else outside of Georgia, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame has two losses – who do you think they would put in? My bet is on the team who is having the best dynasty the sport of College Football has ever seen - the Alabama Crimson Tide. And with the order of the rankings, I gave – it would essentially set the Tide and Bulldogs on a collision course for the National Championship. Which after a close SEC Championship game, in this scenario, would only make sense and is what the committee would set up for to occur in these set of rankings.
What about Michigan and Oklahoma?
Michigan’s case if they were to win out:
If the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor this coming weekend and win The Big Ten Championship – they are in. The Wolverines control their destiny in the same fashion as Ohio State. Since Ohio State beat Michigan State, giving Sparty their second Big Ten loss, the Wolverines would win the Big Ten East if they were to win out, since they would only have one conference loss and hold the tie breaker over Ohio State with the head-to-head victory.
If Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, and Michigan win out:
4. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma’s Case if they were to win out:
Two reasons I left this scenario for last, for one, it is the trickiest of the scenarios, and two, it does not look like this will occur. If it does though, here is what, at least the first few playoff selections, could look like:
If Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Notre Dame win out:
2. Ohio State
then the committee will be “splitting hairs” among Oklahoma, Alabama, and Notre Dame. I do think in this scenario that Cincinnati is safe because, remember, the committee already respected Cincinnati more than Oklahoma even when the Sooners were undefeated. And Cincinnati in this scenario would be “safe” if Georgia beats Alabama considering it would be the Tide’s second loss. The question in this scenario, for me, is who the committee would put in at the fourth spot. It will most likely come down to style points - which I have a tough time imagining OU will have. Because, even IF OU wins out, I have serious doubts they will win their future games impressively. So, then it would be down to Alabama and Notre Dame. So, once again, the score, not just the result, of the SEC Championship game will come into play here as well. If I had to say, I do think Notre Dame would get the edge in this scenario since they would only have one loss – to the number three team (a top ten team when they faced Cincinnati) and Alabama would have two losses and no conference championship.