The College Football Weekend Review

In college football, once we get to November, games begin to have more meaning. With a number of teams competing for the coveted four playoff spots, each game carries more importance. Last year, the Big 12 Conference got shut out of the Playoff, and I can’t help but believe that this year, we may see the same thing. All the top teams in the conference have to play each other, and as we saw Saturday, they just might knock each other out of the Playoff. On Saturday in Stillwater, Oklahoma State beat up on previously unbeaten TCU but a score of 49 – 29. The TCU loss just about knocks TCU out of consideration for the Playoff. Oklahoma State, who remains unbeaten, plays Iowa State this weekend before what could be a showdown game with Baylor on November 21st. I say could be, because Baylor has a big home game this week versus fast-charging Oklahoma, which already has a loss to Texas. The way the Big 12 schedule unfolds, I highly doubt any team in the conference will finish the season unbeaten. If that is the case, the fact that none of the schools face a tough out-of-conference schedule will mean the Big 12 could be on the outside looking in come playoff time. In the Big Ten, Michigan State had a controversial loss to Nebraska, but controversial or not, it was still a loss. That means that assuming MSU beats Maryland this week, their game November 21st versus Ohio State could be for the Big Ten East Championship. If Ohio State wins that game, it would set up a Big Ten Championship game between unbeaten Ohio State and unbeaten Iowa. If Ohio State wins that game, they would be a lock to get into the playoff. Such is not the case with Iowa because of the poor out of conference schedule. With Alabama beating LSU Saturday night, the Crimson Tide are in the driver’s seat to reach the SEC Championship game against Florida.  First, though, they have two very difficult road games in the next three weeks. This week, Alabama travels to Mississippi State, and then on November 28th, they have to play at Auburn. Neither game is a given for ‘Bama. If Alabama loses either of those games, they give the SEC West title back to LSU. The SEC East is noticeably weaker than the West, and Florida has already clinched a berth in the SEC Championship game. What hurts Florida is that they still have to play Florida State on November 28th. A loss to the in-state rival could hurt their Playoff chances regardless of what they do in the SEC Championship game. Top-rated Clemson has already clinched the ACC Atlantic Division, and they don’t really have a difficult game between now and the ACC Championship game. Right now, it looks as if they will be playing once beaten North Carolina in the Championship game. Clemson would be an odds-on favorite to win that game and earn a berth in the Playoff. That brings us to Notre Dame. When the original Playoff rankings came out last week, they were ranked #5. With #2 LSU losing so badly at Alabama, the Irish will most likely move up to #4 this week. Notre Dame, which does not play in a conference, has three games left on their schedule. They play at home versus Wake Forest this week, then travel to Boston to meet Boston College before closing out the season at Stanford on November 28th. Assuming Notre Dame wins both the Wake Forest and Boston College games, the game with Stanford could be for a Playoff berth. Beat a highly ranked Stanford team on the road, and Notre Dame should get the 4th Playoff spot. Lose and they go to a much lesser bowl game. I wrote last week that we already are essentially in the early rounds of the college playoffs right now. Each week is an elimination so to speak, with the games of November 21st and 28th playing a huge part in who actually will be in the Playoff. Looking at the structure of the Playoff now, we don’t need an eight team playoff. We have a great system right now. Just win and you’re alive, lose and you’re out. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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