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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WITS focus: The College Football Playoff

What I Think: Sports edition

Road to the Fin...Last Four?


Here we are at the midpoint of the college football season.  Depending on their bye week every team has played 6 or 7 games.  So where do we stand on the road to the playoff?

11 undefeated teams:  Two of these are "Group of Five" teams with weak schedules.  Even if they stay unbeaten they have virtually no chance of making the playoff.  Of the nine Power Five conference teams, 4 will lose to a fellow unbeaten in the regular season.  Theoretically five teams can go undefeated and claim Power Five conference championships.  This would be playoff nightmare scenario number 1.

9 one loss teams:  Five of these are Group of Five teams, of which only Houston has any cachet as a national level team.  At least 4 of the current unbeatens will fall into this category.  But there are spoilers out there, teams that can really muddy the waters.

Oklahoma and TCU - Every team in the Big 12 plays every other team.  And these two loss powers can inflict losses on Baylor and West Virginia, leaving the Big 12 with no undefeated team, or even no team with fewer than 2 losses.  Oklahoma State could also enter into this equation.

Florida State - Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney said Clemson has beaten everyone but Clemson.  Not for lack of trying.  Five turnovers against Louisville and four against NC State were offset only by clutch plays, stout defense, and the home field advantage.  But the Seminoles are not coming to Death Valley, and they could easily derail the tigers' unbeaten season if given a chance.

Wisconsin - The Badgers had close losses to Michigan and Ohio State.  But if Ohio State puts a loss on fellow unbeaten Nebraska, Wisconsin could seize the division with a victory of their own against the Cornhuskers, setting up a grudge match with the Wolverines-Buckeyes winner in the Big Ten title game.

Utah and Washington State - The Washington Huskies have the straight line to an undefeated season and PAC 12 championship.  But that line leads through the home field of the Utah Utes, the Apple Cup with the rival Cougars, and a potential rematch with Utah in the championship game.

A few of these occurrences could lead to a fairly straight forward mix of four zero or one loss conference champs for the playoff.  But too many, or too few, could lead to five undefeated conference champions,  a bunch of one loss teams, or even some two loss conference champ.

The College Football Playoff Committee may have some interesting choices ahead.

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