Five 2016 College Football Playoff Chaos Scenarios

Five 2016 College Football Playoff Chaos Scenarios


Five 2016 College Football Playoff Chaos Scenarios

The college football playoff picture is straight forward. Alabama is a strong favorite to win the SEC. The same goes for Clemson (ACC), Michigan/Ohio State (B1G), and Washington (P12). It will be hard for a one-loss Baylor or West Virginia in the B12 to win the argument for a place, and that is the best-case scenario.

“Chaos” would be one of those five favorites being derailed, forcing the committee to decide between an underwhelming conference champion, an underwhelming B12 champion, and strong one-loss non-champions that are better than both.

The Wrong Team Wins a Conference Title Game: The committee is inclined to take Power 5 conference champions, but not ad absurdum. A 3-loss team from the SEC East could upset Alabama. A 2-loss or 3-loss Wisconsin or Nebraska could knock off Michigan/Ohio State. A 2-loss or 3-loss Virginia Tech, who lost to Syracuse, could beat Clemson. A 2-loss or 3-loss Utah/USC/Colorado could beat Washington. Any of those scenarios sets up a decision between an underwhelming champ, an underwhelming B12 champ, and a group of far better one-loss teams.

The Three-Way SEC West Tie: Surging Auburn wins out, upsetting Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Texas A&M wins its remaining games. The teams each finish 7-1 in conference and 1-1 in the round robin between them. An unsatisfactory tiebreaker, such as the combined record of SEC East opponents, decides the West. The committee probably takes Auburn at 11-2. But, Alabama could be sitting there looming at 11-1.

Penn State Wins The B1G East: This could happen. Penn State wins its four games remaining – Iowa, at Indiana, at Rutgers, MSU. Michigan drops a game it shouldn’t, most likely at Iowa. Ohio State beats Michigan. Penn State holds the East tiebreaker, with the head-to-head win over Ohio State. Wisconsin and Penn State play for the B1G title. Neither is a guarantee to lock down a playoff spot for the Big Ten. Ohio State is sitting there at 11-1, with a close road loss on a blocked field goal.

Washington State Wins the Apple Cup: Both Washington and Washington State are 5-0 in conference play. The Huskies need all three games – at Cal, USC, ASU – to be 11-0. The Cougars – Arizona, Cal, at Colorado – only need to win two of three to set up a situation where the Apple Cup is winner-take-all for the division. It’s hard to see Washington State, with non-conference losses to Boise State and an FCS team, being in the mix for a playoff spot, even winning the Pac 12.

LSU Runs The Table: Narrow losses to Auburn and Wisconsin look better in retrospect. LSU upsets Alabama, let’s say 24-21, and wins its remaining games to finish 7-1 and win the SEC West. Under that scenario, the Tigers would have beaten Alabama, Texas A&M, and Florida (twice, potentially) down the stretch. They probably get into the playoff. Alabama is still looming at 11-1.

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