The new CFB Top 25 rankings have yet to come out after another week of chaos in the College Football landscape, so these are based off of last week’s rankings.
Sorry, Jared Goff. DeShaun Watson is the best QB in College Football.
Dream: Win out, and win big to lock up the number one seed in the playoff. As evidenced by Ohio State last year, it’s not necessarily the best team in the four team field who brings home the hardware, but the hottest team who’s hitting their stride. Ohio State came fresh off a demolishing of Wisconsin in the B1G title game, and used it as a launching pad to dominate when it matters. Clemson can follow their blueprint here, with an emotional victory over rival South Carolina and an emphatic victory over the Tar Heels in the ACC Championship game. Riding red-hot QB DeShaun Watson, Clemson blows out the 4 seed and then dices their opponents through the air in the National Championship Game en route to their first natty since 1981.
Nightmare: Obviously, losses in the next two games would most likely doom their season, but there is so much more that can go wrong. An injury to Watson would threaten to derail their season and even if they win without him, the committee’s perception of Clemson without him may eliminate them from the playoff altogether. An injury to running back Wayne Gallman would hamstring this offense. Not everyone has a Cardale Jones lying in wait. Star receiver Mike Williams was already lost in the first game of the season. More injuries to the wide receiver corps could really test their depth and throw a monkey wrench into the selection process.
Dream: Pound Auburn into submission as revenge for the unforgettable kick six, have Jacob Coker start to look like Joe Montana, have Derrick Henry make Florida’s vaunted defense look like swiss cheese, and coast through the playoffs with the advantage of having the most talent in the country.
Nightmare: Somehow lose to either Auburn or Florida, or throw up unimpressive performances against both, while some other team gets white hot. Alabama could conceivable lose to Auburn (you never know with rivalry games), then beat Florida to win the SEC but still be left out of the playoff conversation due to their two losses. Florida’s ugly win over a 2-9 Conference USA opponent will do nothing to help ‘Bama’s strength of schedule. If Florida loses to Florida state, they will look even weaker and a narrow victory over mediocre Auburn and a close finish in the title game against Florida would destroy Alabama’s strength of schedule. The strength of schedule would look even worse if Ole Miss gets blown out by Mississippi State.
3. Ohio State
According to Ezekiel Elliot, more carries for him were the answer in the MSU game.
Dream: Overpower Michigan in every facet of the game, while both Iowa and Michigan State somehow choke in the last game of the season and then proceed to stumble over each other in the B1G championship game. Hope the committee confuses themselves and looks at their 2014 season. Pay off the committee and bribe their way in. Low blow, considering the history with Jim Tressel? Ok, fine, let’s not kick Ohio State while they’re down.
Nightmare: They did a nice job of taking care of this one. Plus, the two players that led them to a championship last year have stated that next week will be their last game as a Buckeye.
4. Notre Dame
The jerseys looked awesome, the game looked awful.
Dream: Hope the committee doesn’t penalize them for keeping it close with Boston College, who’s offense would probably go three and out against a Pop Warner team, make Stanford look silly next week, and follow the mantra of “get hot at the right time” into a rematch with Clemson where they come out on top this time. Then hope the National Championship game goes better than last time vs Alabama.
Nightmare: DeShone Kizer looks just as lost as he did against Boston College vs Stanford, let Christian McCaffrey do to them what he did to Cal this week, and plummet out of the playoff and into a meaningless bowl game.
Floyd of Rosedale, check. Purdue, check. B1G Championship?
Dream: Win out and you’re in. Hope CJ Beathard’s groin injury continues to improve and ride the momentum of wins over Nebraska and a flawed Michigan State team into a huge upset in the playoff and the National Championship Game, proving that B1G and the midwest is the cream of the crop regarding America’s game. Iowa’s always top notch offensive lines paves the way to the granddaddy of them all. Iowa’s O-Line, probably the best in the country, vs Alabama’s D-Line, also considered the best in the country, would make for a fascinating matchup that would have NFL scouts thrilled.
Nightmare: Based on the fact that Iowa is the only undefeated team in the country not in the Top 4, the committee seems to have concerns about their strength of schedule. Even one loss will sink them. No matter the finish, it’s been a terrific season in Iowa City, the best in a long time and an unbelievable improvement over last year’s uninspiring 7-6 performance.
6. Oklahoma State
Goodbye, OK State. Those strength of schedule concerns were warranted.
Dream: Embarrass Oklahoma in their rivalry game, then hope TCU lights up Baylor. But not too much, because they don’t want their loss to Baylor to look too bad. Then hope Stanford beats Notre Dame but loses to USC in the Pac-12 title game. Then hope the B1G kills eachother off. Then hope chaos ensues on rivalry weekend, ‘Bama loses two games somehow, Clemson loses…yeah, they aren’t going to make the playoff.
Nightmare: Have insult added to injury when Oklahoma mauls OK State. All other teams swear they will never join the Big XII so the conference is stuck with 10 teams forever and they never get a title game to make sense of the madness.
Oklahoma needs to have a great game in Stillwater, and needs some help from a Top 4 team throwing it away in the final week or a shocking upset in a conference title game. Maybe Florida beating Alabama? The play of Baker Mayfield has elevated them to the point where they will merit strong consideration for a spot in the playoff. Among the contenders currently outside the Top 4, only Iowa is better positioned to break into the field of 4.
A Stanford victory over Notre Dame and a beatdown of USC in the Pac-12 title game would give Stanford a slight chance of cracking the Top 4. If the teams ahead of Stanford all manage to acquire a second loss, Stanford is arguably the best two loss team in country. Both of their losses could be considered “quality”-a surprisingly good Northwestern team and a surging Oregon, both ranked, could influence the committee to grant Stanford some leeway if chaos ensues. If the committee wants to pit Heisman contenders against each other in those New Year’s bowls, a field of four including DeShaun Watson, Derrick Henry, Baker Mayfield, and Stanford’s electric Christian McCaffrey would make for excellent TV ratings. Hmm.
If Baylor rolls-and by rolls I mean 50+ point victory-TCU, and Oklahoma and Notre Dame lose, Baylor could reenter the conversation. They too have intriguing star power-wide receiver Corey Coleman is a good as they come-and their sole loss could be diminished by a OK State victory over the Sooners. By the transitive property, Baylor would technically be better than OU. Except, you know, they lost to them.
Michigan’s two losses are eerily similar to those of Stanford. A week one loss that appeared to doom them, to a streaky opponent who started the year off on a tear, then a late narrow loss to a big rival. Would a Michigan victory over Ohio State hold more weight than a Stanford victory over Notre Dame? The issue for Michigan is that they would need Michigan State to look awful and pick up two more losses to be in the conversation as the B1G’s representative. That in turn would make their last second flukey loss to MSU look worse. So Michigan State has to lose, but not by too much. While Iowa would have to lose big to Nebraska, then stumble over itself in the title game while Michigan State does the same, but then again, not too badly. Just bad enough to lose, but play well. The good news is Harbaugh’s presence and strong recruiting classes ought to make Michigan a National Championship favorite for the years to come. Unless they do something dumb, like fire Harbaugh when all he did was bring your program out of the ashes into championship consideration in one year. AHEM.
The chaos is why we love it, right?
Pictures: I do not own any of these pictures and all credit goes to the photographer and their website.