The College Football season is closing. The sport relishes repetitive diction. “Chaos” has been the buzzword of 2016. It’s worth defining what the term means, precisely.
Chaos is a state that would occur at the end of the season. The playoff picture is disordered. There aren’t four clear teams. The committee must make one or multiple tough decisions. One might root for this situation if one believed the committee process was a farce that should be exposed.
Not every unexpected result at the top contributes to “chaos.” Most so far this season have not.
Houston beat down Louisville last night. That loss eliminated much of the potential chaos. Many problematic scenarios depended on Louisville sitting at 11-1, looking like one of the clear top four teams, and not having a good shot at being chosen.
Clemson and Washington losing last week had no chaotic impact. Both teams still win their conferences and, almost undoubtedly, get bids as one-loss P5 champions.
Iowa beating Michigan did enhance the chaos probability. Ohio State beating the Wolverines now sets up a probable two-way tie in the B1G East instead of a three-way tie. Penn State would beat Ohio State on the head-to-head result and go to the B1G title game. An 11-1 Ohio State, ranked No. 2, would be sitting there without a conference championship.
Though, that came at the expense of having “11-1 Michigan with a narrow loss to Ohio State on the road” in the mix.
Chaos is still plausible. Clemson loses the ACC title game. Michigan upsets Ohio State but loses the B1G title game to Wisconsin. Oklahoma wins out in the Big 12. Washington State wins the Apple Cup and wins the Pac 12. That leaves Alabama and…
Wisconsin [11-2] Beating LSU in the season’s first game becomes critical. Three Top 25 wins, two narrow losses (one in regulation), and a conference title.
Washington State [11-2] Conference Title. Three Top 10-15 wins to close the season. Undefeated vs. P5. But…two losses outside the P5 and one to an FCS program.
Oklahoma [10-2] The Sooners won their P5 conference undefeated. But, double-digit losses to Houston and Ohio State at home. How excited does the committee get about wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia?
Ohio State [10-2] Lost their two crucial division games. But…wins over Wisconsin and Oklahoma on the road. They also beat a 10-win Nebraska by 59 points.
Michigan [11-2] Those who stayed weren’t B1G Champs. But the Wolverines have a 4-1 record against Top 15 opponents.
Clemson [11-2] No conference title. But, Clemson would still have wins over Louisville and a Top 25 Florida State.
Other Power 5: Louisville, West Virginia, Penn State, and Nebraska also have two losses.
Outside Power 5: Undefeated Western Michigan team. A one-loss Boise State team that beat Washington State. Houston is probably outside the running with two losses, but they have wins when healthy over Oklahoma and Louisville.
It would be interesting to see how the committee addressed that one. Alabama – Wisconsin – Washington State – Michigan?
The more probable “tough” committee decision scenario could be created by winners winning out. We could have at large Ohio State (11-1, ranked No. 2), Pac 12 champ Washington (12-1), Big 12 champ West Virginia (11-1), and Big Ten champ Wisconsin (11-2).
But, the committee doesn’t respect West Virginia’s schedule. The committee opting for Ohio State with a better record, a better résumé, and a head-to-head win in Madison is not that hard of a decision. An 11-1 Louisville may have had a hard time getting in, but it would have made for a more interesting discussion.