November 05, 2015 - Greg Gabriel
The College Football playoffs have begun
There are many college football fans who would like nothing more than an eight or even 16-team playoff system. While something like that may happen sometime in the future, this year, at least, we may have something even better. Looking at the latest playoff poll and then taking a look at the schedule of games for the month of November, we just may already be in an elimination playoff right now, and it starts this Saturday. The first of a weekly playoff poll or, better yet, weekly seeding came out Tuesday night. The top four seeds are the most important, but those will likely change on a weekly basis with the schedule the way it is. If a team wants to stay in the top four, they need to win. A loss now can be catastrophic as far as getting to the football version of the Final Four. This week, #1 Clemson is at home versus #16 Florida State. A Clemson loss won’t necessarily knock them out of contention, but with so few games left, it will be tough for them to work their way back to the top four. We also have #2 LSU traveling to Tuscaloosa to meet #4 Alabama. Since Alabama already has a loss to #18 Ole Miss, another loss will just about eliminate them from contention. An LSU loss will drop them out of the top four, but again, they will have time to make a comeback when they play Ole Miss on November 21st. If Mississippi wins out, they could very well be in the SEC Championship game because of their win over Alabama. If they don't win the SEC Championship, they could be on the outside looking in for the Final Four because of their two losses. Last year, the Big 12 was shut out of the playoff, and that could very well be the case again this year. In the opening playoff poll, the Big 12 has four teams ranked in the top 15, with Baylor the highest ranked at #6. The others are TCU at #8, Oklahoma State at #14, and Oklahoma at #15. All these teams will play one another in November, and it will be difficult for any team to come out of the conference undefeated. For a Big 12 club to make to the playoff, they almost have to be unbeaten, and even then, they are not in for sure. The overall strength of the conference is weak and all the teams play a weak out-of-conference schedule. The first elimination game in the Big 12 is this week when Oklahoma St and TCU battle in Stillwater. The loser gets knocked out and the winner has a tough game next week. On November 14th, Oklahoma plays at Baylor. If Baylor wins, they go on. If they lose, they are out of the picture. Following the Oklahoma game, Baylor still has to play at Oklahoma State and at TCU. So you can see that no team in the Big 12 has an easy path. In the Big Ten, #2 Ohio State has its two toughest games in their final two regular season games of the season when they play current #7 Michigan State on November 21st and then travel to Ann Arbor to play current #17 Michigan. A loss to either of those teams will surely keep them out of the final four. Michigan State really only has one really difficult team left on their schedule, the above mentioned game versus Ohio State. The problem the Spartans have is they have not played consistent football all year. They could very well lose one or two of the final four games. Outside of the Ohio State game, their other opponents are Nebraska, Maryland, and Penn State. That brings us to the current Big Ten West leader, Iowa. Unless they have an unexpected stumble, they will make it to the Big Ten Championship game undefeated. If they win the Championship game, they still aren’t a lock for the playoff because of their strength of schedule. The Big Ten West is weak, and their out-of-conference schedule has also been weak. That will make it very difficult for the Committee to vote them in to the playoff. As I see it, the Pac 12 has only one team with a chance to make it to the playoff and that is current #11 Stanford. The Cardinal have to win out, which would mean they beat both Oregon and Notre Dame, as well as win the PAC 12 Championship game. One more loss by Stanford and they are done. The only independent who has a chance of making the Final Four is #5 Notre Dame. A win this week should put them in the top four because there will be a loser in the Alabama – LSU game. Notre Dame’s only loss is a 2 point loss to Clemson a month ago. If they win out, they are almost a lock to get in. What we have this month is almost a perfect playoff elimination schedule, which will make it fun for all college football fans. In each of the next four weeks, we have some very important games that will have a huge effect on who the Final Four will be.