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The College Football Playoff Committee released its Week 12 rankings on Tuesday night. Below, we’ll go through the poll and analyze the playoff landscape with the postseason looming.
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
13. Oklahoma State
14. Washington State
16. Mississippi State
17. Michigan State
19. NC State
25. Boise State
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After a wild weekend, the rankings were bound to look quite different in Week 12.
Alabama is No. 1 following the Crimson Tide’s last-minute win over Mississippi State and Georgia’s blowout loss to Auburn. Notre Dame took a plunge after losing to Miami, while the Hurricanes justifiably rose in the rankings.
But the current rankings are also an indication that the College Football Playoff Committee is going to have some fascinating decisions to make going forward. Let’s examine the potential nightmare scenario for the committee in the remaining weeks.
First, let’s assume Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama, Georgia, Miami and Clemson win the remainder of their regular-season games, and Oklahoma and Wisconsin win their respective conference championships. Now, let’s go fully nuclear: Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC title game, while Clemson knocks off Miami in the ACC title matchup.
Whoo boy. In this scenario, that would leave an undefeated Wisconsin team with a fairly weak resume and five one-loss teams—Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Miami and Oklahoma—all presenting a viable claim for the four playoff berths. For the committee, this is surely the least ideal possibility.
Let’s break down what each team’s resume would look like in that scenario (assuming Ohio State and TCU reach the Big Ten and Big 12 title games, respectively):
- Alabama: One loss. Quality wins vs. LSU (home), Mississippi State (away), Auburn (away). Quality loss vs. Georgia (neutral field).
- Clemson: One loss. ACC champion. Quality wins vs. Auburn (home), Virginia Tech (away), NC State (away), Miami (neutral field). Bad loss vs. Syracuse (away).
- Georgia: One loss. SEC champion. Quality wins vs. Notre Dame (away), Mississippi State (home) and Alabama (neutral field). Quality loss vs. Auburn (away).
- Miami: One loss. Quality wins vs. Virginia Tech (home) and Notre Dame (home). Quality loss vs. Clemson (neutral field).
- Oklahoma: One loss. Big 12 champion. Quality wins vs. Ohio State (away), Oklahoma State (away), TCU (twice, at home and neutral field). Loss vs. Iowa State (home).
- Wisconsin: Undefeated. Big Ten champion. Quality wins vs. Ohio State (neutral field), Michigan (home), Northwestern (home).
The easiest team to eliminate from that field is probably Miami, based solely on its resume and lack of a title. It would be impossible to keep Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia out of the playoff based on their impressive resumes, meanwhile. So the committee, in theory, would have to decide between an undefeated conference champion in Wisconsin—with a poor resume—or an Alabama team with one loss and no conference title but a superior resume.
Most college football fans outside of Madison would probably say Alabama is the better team. But snubbing an undefeated Power Five champion would also be a huge precedent to set.
Suffice to say, the committee’s job could be difficult in the coming weeks.
It’s possible the season will end with four clear candidates for the playoff and little drama. But it’s just as possible at least one deserving team is going to get snubbed.