It’s too early to get worked up about potential scenarios a month from now, but let’s nip something in the bud: A 13-0 Wisconsin team needs to be in the playoff. Absolutely, no questions asked. There can’t be four undefeated teams ahead of them, and I’m sorry, but 1-loss Alabama, 1-loss Notre Dame, 1-loss Clemson and 1-loss Oklahoma don’t all trump undefeated Wisconsin.
Again, it’s silly diving deep into this scenario because so much can and will happen over the next month. But just to clear things up:
1) Yes, Wisconsin has played a soft schedule. I haven’t said much about them yet because they haven’t beaten anyone. Northwestern is their best win. But they still host 20th-ranked Iowa this weekend, then host 7-2 Michigan. Minnesota is a dangerous rivalry game on Thanksgiving weekend, but in the Big 10 Championship game they’ll play Michigan State or Ohio State, one of which will be ranked in the Top 10 of the playoff standings. The resume will get there.
2) Notre Dame has been impressive so far, but still has to win at undefeated Miami, beat always-dangerous Navy, and then win at Stanford. The Irish have a great loss vs undefeated Georgia … BUT IT IS STILL A LOSS.
3) Alabama feels susceptible for reasons I’ll get into at a later date. Also, it has to go on the road twice in the regular season (Mississippi State and Auburn) and then beat Georgia in the SEC title game.
4) Clemson is trending the wrong way the last few weeks, and has a loss to a 4-5 Syracuse team (yes, after the Tigers lost their QB at halftime). The Tigers should win out, but I’m feeling less and less confident about that Miami showdown in the ACC title game. Reminder: Clemson LOST TO SYRACUSE.
5) Oklahoma has a better loss than Clemson, but IT HAS A LOSS. The Sooners should beat TCU and West Virginia at home, but it’s anyone’s guess about that Big 12 title game. The win at Ohio State doesn’t look as impressive as it did in September.
You can have a discussion about the four teams with one loss. Pick three. But if Wisconsin runs the table at the end of the regular season and then wins the Big 10 title game, the Badgers are in.
My guess is Clemson, whose best wins (Louisville, Virginia Tech) are looking less impressively as the days go by, and another one (Auburn) is about to get worse. A win over 3-5 Florida State won’t help matters. Despite two straight trips to the title game, I believe in the scenario laid out above, Clemson would be left out.