The Conference Divisional Races Are Getting Crazy (Week 12 Update)

Submitted by SpikeFan2016 on November 13th, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Below is an analysis of the different Power 5 conference divisional races with two weeks to go in the regular season. I even included the Big 12 this time. Shit just got crazy in a lot of these races. It will be an interesting finish to the regular season. 

 

The “Too Long, Didn’t Read” Recap:

  • Ohio State is probably not going to be able to win the Big Ten East. 
  • Barring an epic collapse, Wisconsin will win the Big Ten West and Minnesota is all but out of it. Nebraska is still praying for a Badger slip-up. 
  • Alabama won the SEC West already (yawn). 
  • The SEC East and ACC Coastal are both absolutely horrible divisions with two-team races in which it almost seems like none of the teams even want to win (Florida/Tennessee and Virginia Tech/North Carolina)
  • If Clemson beats Wake Forest, they win the ACC Atlantic. If they lose, Louisville wins the division. 
  • Washington and Washington State are still likely to decide the PAC 12 North in the Apple Cup. 
  • The PAC 12 South is right up there with the Big Ten East for the most exciting race in the country; three top 15 teams (Colorado, Utah and USC) are still battling it out. 
  • The Big 12 is down to three teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia); each team controls their own destiny, with little margin for error for any. 

 


Big Ten (Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana)

 

Big Ten East:

Last Week: Welp. It wasn't great. But it actually doesn't matter too much for us (can't say the same for the heathens from South of the border; and, to be clear, I am absolutely not talking about Mexico). Penn State and Ohio State rolled middling opponents while Michigan lost a heartbreaker on the road to Iowa. We have a three-way tie at the top of the East. 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Michigan (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten)

  • Remaining Schedule: vs. Indiana, @Ohio State
  • Path: We control our own destiny; win out and we’re going to Indy. Also, in the highly unlikely event of a three-way tie, Michigan would prevail. The reason for this is that Iowa is in the West, so if all three teams finished 7-2 we would have the best record against the East division (OSU and PSU both already lost to an East team and only have East teams left to play). The only way this could happen would be if MSU wins out and defeats OSU/PSU (Michigan could beat IU and lose to OSU and still win the East if this happens). 

·      Penn State (8-2 overall, 6-1 Big Ten)

  • Remaining Schedule: @Rutgers, vs. Michigan State
  • Path: The Nittany Lions need to beat the two worst teams in the Big Ten East and hope that Ohio State (or Indiana) beat Michigan. They have the best odds of winning the Big Ten East at this point (assuming OSU is a favorite to beat UM), but they do not control their own destiny. 

·      Ohio State (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten)

  • Remaining Schedule: @Michigan State, vs. Michigan
  • Path: Must win out AND have Penn State lose one of their final two games. Ohio State is eliminated before The Game if they fall to MSU (assuming PSU takes care of business against Rutgers). The Buckeyes were hurt more by Michigan's loss to Iowa than the Wolverines themselves were. 

 

Eliminated From Contention:

·      Indiana (5-5 overall, 3-4 Big Ten)

·      Maryland (5-5 overall, 2-5 Big Ten)

·      Michigan State (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten)

·      Rutgers (2-8 overall, 0-7 Big Ten)

 

Big Ten West

Last Week: Nothing really changed here, except for Minnesota no longer controls their own destiny after falling at Nebraska. Badgers still in the driver's seat after blowing out Illinois, with the Gophers and Huskers nipping at their heels. 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Wisconsin (8-2 overall, 5-2 Big Ten)

  • Remaining Schedule: @Purdue, vs. Minnesota
  • Path: Win out and they are in Indianapolis. Badgers are still in the thick of the Playoff Race as well. 

·      Nebraska (8-2 overall, 5-2 Big Ten)

  • Remaining Schedule: vs. Maryland, @Iowa
  • Path: Win out and hope that Wisconsin loses another game. 

·      Minnesota (7-3 overall, 4-3 Big Ten)

  • Remaining Schedule: vs. Northwestern, @Wisconsin
  • Path: It's pretty much over. Gophers need to win out and hope Nebraska loses out as Wisconsin would take a three way tie even if the Gophers can reclaim the Axe. A Nebraska win over Maryland officially eliminates the Gophers. 

 

 

Eliminated from Contention:

·      Northwestern: (5-5 overall, 4-3 Big Ten)

·      Iowa (6-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten)

·      Illinois (3-7 overall, 2-5 Big Ten)

·      Purdue (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten)

 


SEC (Coronation in Atlanta, Georgia)

 

SEC West

Last Week: Alabama clinched the division this weekend with their win over Mississippi State plus Auburn's loss to Georgia. The Crimson Tide have now won the SEC West three years in a row and four of the past five years. 

Division Winner:

·      Alabama (10-0, 7-0 SEC)

 

Eliminated from Contention:

·      Auburn (7-3 overall, 5-2 SEC) 

·      LSU (6-3 overall, 4-2 SEC)

·      Texas A&M (7-3 overall, 4-3 SEC) 

·      Arkansas (6-4 overall, 2-4 SEC)

·      Ole Miss (5-5 overall, 2-4 SEC)

·      Mississippi State (4-6 overall, 2-4 SEC)

 

 

SEC East

Last Week: Tennessee defeated Kentucky to eliminate UK from winning the East; Florida's home win over South Carolina eliminated the possiblity of a four team, 4-4 tie. It's a two team race now between Tennessee and Florida in this putrid division. 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Florida (7-2 overall, 5-2 SEC)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: @LSU
  • Path: The Gators still control their own destiny; beat LSU in Baton Rouge and they win the East. If they lose to LSU (likely), Florida needs Tennessee to drop one of its final two SEC games as the Vols beat them 38-28 in Knoxville all the way back in the SEC opener.  

·      Tennessee (7-3 overall, 3-3 SEC)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. Missouri, @Vanderbilt
  • Path: Tennessee needs to win out and hope Florida loses another game so they can use their tiebreaker to receive another Bama beatdown. On second thought, maybe the Vols should purposefully throw the Vandy game?

 

Eliminated From Contention:

·      Georgia (6-4 overall, 4-4 SEC)

·      Kentucky (5-5 overall, 4-4 SEC)

·      South Carolina (5-5 overall, 3-5 SEC)

·      Missouri (3-7 overall, 1-5 SEC)

·      Vanderbilt (4-6 overall, 1-5 SEC)

 

 


PAC-12 (Championship in Santa Clara, California)

 

PAC-12 North

Last Week: Washington lost a game that wasn't really that close at home to #20 Southern Cal, while Washington State cruised to a 56-21 victory at home against middling California. The Apple Cup hype continues; as long as Washington doesn't lose at home to Arizona State this week, the rivalry game alone will decide the PAC 12 North. 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Washington State (8-2 overall, 7-0 PAC-12)

  • Remaining Schedule: @Colorado, vs. Washington.
  • Path: Control their own destiny; win out and it's a title game appearance with the Rose Bowl on the line for the Cougars. Additionally, Washington State would clinch the North with a win at Colorado this weekend AND a Washington loss to Arizona State. 

·      Washington (9-1 overall, 6-1 PAC-12)

  • Remaining Schedule: vs. Arizona State, @Washington State
  • Path: Beat Washington State. And Arizona State (unless WSU loses to Colorado, which might be likely in Boulder). 

 

Eliminated From Contention:

·      Stanford (7-3 overall, 5-3 PAC-12)

·      California (4-6 overall, 2-5 PAC-12)

·      Oregon (3-7 overall, 1-6 PAC-12)

·      Oregon State (2-8 overall, 1-6 PAC-12)

 

PAC 12 South

Last Week: Huge week for this division with all three contenders winning on the road. Utah and Colorado steamrolled the Arizona teams, both by at least three scores, and Southern California pulled a huge upset in Seattle over #4 Washington to stay alive. This is really anyone's game and there are still two ranked matchups coming in the next two weeks. 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Colorado (8-2 overall, 6-1 PAC-12)

  • Remaining Schedule: vs. Washington State, vs. Utah
  • Path: Control their own destiny; win out and they are in Santa Clara. However, the Buffs do not have a margin for error. Assuming USC handles flailing UCLA this weekend, Colorado would be elminated from contention with a loss to Washington State, before they even get to Utah. 

·      Southern California (7-3 overall, 6-2 PAC 12)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: @UCLA.
  • Path: Wow. What a turnaround. Remember when USC was 2-3? Neither do I. USC needs to beat rival UCLA this weekend, but mostly their focus will be on rooting for other teams. The Trojans need both Utah and Colorado to lose another game (Utah already beat USC and the Utes would win a three-way tiebreaker). Utah and Colorado play each other on the last weekend, so one of the two is guaranteed. However, that means that USC could be eliminated after next week if Utah beats Oregon (at home) and Colorado beats Washington State (also at home). Given the Ducks' struggles, USC really needs Washington State to down the Buffaloes. 

·      Utah (8-2 overall, 5-2 PAC-12)

  • Remaining Schedule: vs. Oregon, @Colorado.
  • Path:  The Utes control their destiny just like the Buffaloes due to their win over USC and ability to win a three-way tiebreaker (both losses thus far have been to teams from the North and they had no non-conference losses). No margin for error here; win out and they're in. 

 

Eliminated From Contention:

·      Arizona State (5-5 overall, 2-5 PAC-12)

·      UCLA (4-6 overall, 2-5 PAC-12)

·      Arizona (2-8 overall, 0-7 PAC-12)

 


ACC (Championship in Orlando, Florida)

 

Atlantic Division:

Last Week: Not over till the fat lady sings!!! Clemson lost at home to Pittsburgh, which keeps Louisville's dreams alive. However, the Cardinals have already finished ACC play so all they can do is root for Wake Forest to upset the Tigers. Wake Forest's outside chance was extinguished with their loss to Louisville (in which they put up a great fight and were leading at halftime). 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Clemson (9-1 overall, 6-1 ACC)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: @Wake Forest.
  • Path: Beat Wake Forest.

·      Louisville (9-1 overall, 7-1 ACC)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: None.
  • Path: Wake Forest beats Clemson. 

 

Eliminated from Contention:

·      Florida State (7-3 overall, 4-3 ACC)

·      Wake Forest (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC)

·      North Carolina State (5-5 overall, 2-4 ACC)

·      Syracuse (4-6 overall, 2-4 ACC)

·      Boston College (4-6 overall, 1-6 ACC)

 

Coastal Division:

Last Week: What a failure of a division. They are giving the SEC East a run for their money. Both of the division frontrunners lost this week (Virginia Tech was blown out at home by Georgia Tech and North Carolina lost a close rivalry game at non-bowl team Duke). However, they remain the only two alive in this race. 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Virginia Tech (7-3 overall, 5-2 ACC)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. Virginia
  • Path: Beat Virginia. Alternatively, lose to Virginia but have North Carolina lose to NC State (VT wins a 4-way tie between Miami, Pitt, and UNC on head-to-head over all three). 

·      North Carolina (7-3 overall, 5-2 ACC)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. North Carolina State
  • Path: Beat North Carolina State and hope Virginia beats Virginia Tech. 

 

Eliminated From Contention:

·      Miami (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC)

·      Pittsburgh (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC)

·      Georgia Tech (6-4 overall, 3-4 ACC)

·      Virginia (2-8 overall, 1-5 ACC)

·      Duke (4-6 overall, 1-5 ACC)

 


Big 12 (No Championship Game)

 

The Big 12 race is down to three teams: the pair of Oklahoma schools plus Eastern newcomer, West Virginia. Oklahoma still has to play both of the other two contenders; Oklahoma State beat West Virginia in Stillwater a few weeks ago.

This race is interesting in that every team controls their own destiny, but none of them have a real margin for error. 

 

Still in the Hunt:

·      Oklahoma (8-2 overall, 7-0 Big 12)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: @West Virginia, vs. Oklahoma State
  • Path: Control their own destiny; win out and they will win the conference. There isn't much margin for error; a loss to Oklahoma State is definitely worse than a loss to WVU, as the Mountaineers have an extra game to play against a semi-decent team (Baylor). 

·      Oklahoma State (8-2 overall, 6-1 Big 12)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: @Texas Christian, @Oklahoma
  • Path: Win out. If they lose to TCU, they need to beat OU, have WVU beat OU and have WVU lose to Baylor (a lot of contingencies, not likely to happen).

·      West Virginia (8-1 overall, 5-1 Big 12)

  • Remaining Conference Schedule: vs. Oklahoma, @Iowa State, vs. Baylor. 
  • Path: Control their own destiny. Even less margin for error (basically does not exist) than for the other two contenders. 

 

Eliminated from Contention:

·      Baylor (6-3 overall, 3-3 Big 12)

·      Kansas State (5-4 overall, 3-3 Big 12)

·      Texas Christian (5-4 overall, 3-3 Big 12)

·      Texas (5-5 overall, 3-4 Big 12)

·      Texas Tech (4-6 overall, 2-5 Big 12)

·      Iowa State (2-8 overall, 1-6 Big 12)

·      Kansas (1-9 overall, 0-7 Big 12)

 

Comments

doggdetroit

November 13th, 2016 at 8:21 PM ^

Michigan's loss to Iowa decreased OSU's chances of making it to the B1G title game but it also increased OSU's chances of making it to the playoff. If they beat MSU and Michigan, they are virtually guaranteed to make the top 4 without having to play Wisconsin in the title game.

SpikeFan2016

November 13th, 2016 at 8:50 PM ^

No, it absolutely did not. 

 

They still had to beat Michigan either way (if Michigan beats them, we're above them, if not we're below) so it doesn't matter that they temporarily move ahead of us. 

 

By eliminating their chance for a 13th game, they become susceptible to getting kicked out of the playoff by two of Wisconsin/Penn State, Washington or West Virginia; if they get the chance to win in Indy, none of those teams can touch them. 

If Wisconsin wins the Big Ten with a convincing win over PSU (who OSU lost to) or Penn State beats Wisconsin (who has head to head over the Buckeyes), they will 100% jump Ohio State. 

It would probably come down to a 12-1 PAC 12 Champion Washington vs. an 11-1 non-division winner OSU. Unless Washington has flukey wins over Wash. State and Colorado/Utah/USC, the Huskies probably go. Conference championships are an explicit criteria in consideration. 

Remember, TCU fell three spots after beating someone by 50 points after the final weekend. OSU could certainly fall from #2 to #5 after the conference championships. 

 

Also, if Ohio State makes it into the playoff it's highly likely they will have to play Alabama in the first round; if Michigan doesn't lose to Iowa and OSU wins out, the Buckeyes are solidly the #2 seed away from Bama. 

doggdetroit

November 13th, 2016 at 10:01 PM ^

The biggest impediment to OSU's playoff chances was having to beat both Michigan and Wisconsin (for a second time on a neutral field where anything can happen). Michigan's loss to Iowa probably keeps OSU out of the title game but it also removes a possible loss to Wisconsin in the title game (which would certainly keep OSU out of the playoff) from the equation. Of course OSU still has to beat Michigan but the B1G title game is basically irrelevant to them at this point because...

OSU is going to be #2 come Tuesday night. They don't need a 13th game to move up, they are already there. Further it's going to be very difficult for three teams to move ahead of OSU because they currently have wins over #6 Wisconsin, #8 Oklahoma, and #19 Nebraska per the latest AP rankings. Their only loss was to #9 Penn State (on the road). They would also have the chance of adding to that resume with a win over #4 Michigan. If they do that, they would enter championship Saturday with wins over 4 top 25 teams despite missing out on a 13th game. With that resume, you honestly think OSU is going to drop 3 spots a week after beating a top 5 Michigan, which is the single biggest game (ranked team vs. ranked team) left in the season? I know TCU dropped three spots but that was after beating a terrible Iowa State team. Michigan-OSU is going to be a top 4-5 matchup.

Right now, Clemson is the only other team projected to finish with 4 wins over top 25 teams, one of those wins is Troy, and they have by far the worse loss.  I could maybe see Clemson moving back ahead of OSU after winning the ACC since they have a strong resume but after Clemson it gets pretty hard to see two more teams surpassing an OSU team that just beat Michigan. Here are the teams with the best shot at doing it:

Louisville only has 1 top 25 win and they don't have any marquee games left that would propel them over OSU. If Louisville isn't ahead of OSU on Tuesday, they aren't moving ahead of them ever.

Washington could finish 12-1 but their remaining marquee games are #20 Washington State and a ranked team in the Pac 12 title game. The most top 25 wins Washington could finish with is 3 and it's quite possible that WSU falls out of the rankings since they have to play Colorado this week. OSU would have the better resume.

West Virginia has a game against #8 Oklahoma but believe it or not, that would be their only top 25 win and they would still finish 11-1, same record as OSU.

I think OSU gets in over a 11-2 B1G champion Wisconsin team (head to head and better resume).

It gets somewhat dicey if PSU finishes 11-2. OSU would have the better resume since PSU could only finish with 2 top 25 wins but PSU would have head to head.

Keep in mind that is highly unlikely that all of these teams win out but in this scenario, I think it would be very difficult to keep OSU out.

For what it's worth, per 538 OSU currently has the third best chance of making the playoff behind Alabama and Clemson, despite having the lowest chance of winning the B1G (among Michigan, Wisconsin, and PSU):

http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-college-football-predictions/?…

 

 

 

SpikeFan2016

November 13th, 2016 at 10:07 PM ^

They are absolutely not going to eliminate the Big Ten Champion if it's Wisconsin. Wisconsin is likely to be ranked #6 tomorrow, one of the teams ahead of them is guaranteed to lose (UM vs. OSU) and they would be able to grab a Top Ten win in the last week before rankings. 

 

Once again, conference Championships matter. You have it all backwards. You incorrectly think OSU is helped by not having the chance to LOSE to Wisconsin when the reverse is true; OSU is hurt by not having the chance to BEAT Wisconsin. 

 

Once again, TCU went from #3 to #6 after not playing in a conference championship game.

Washington would be the favorite to get the nod over OSU given its extra win and conference championship, the ACC winner would instantly surpass them and the Big Ten winner is not going to be excluded by a team that didn't even finish in second in the conference, especially if it's PSU who has head to head over the Buckeyes. 

 

As for OSU's resume, Nebraska could easily lose at Iowa, which would eliminate one of OSU's Top 25 wins. Oklahoma could lose to either or both of WVU and Oklahoma State. The point is, now Ohio State has to worry about all of these other contingencies whereas before they only had to worry about themselves. 

Michigan4Life

November 13th, 2016 at 10:58 PM ^

OSU would be in over Wisconsin. OSU is #2 and won't move down unless the committee is dumb. They won't go from #2 to out of top 5 just because they didn't win B1G.  It'd be Wisconsin who would be left out because beating PSU won't move the needle for them. Wisconsin and OSU needed Michigan to beat Iowa and since they didn't, it hurts Wisconsin's chances of leaping OSU for the CFB playoff and it hurts Michigan's chances of making the CFB playoff if they lose to OSU.

Blue Mike

November 14th, 2016 at 11:01 AM ^

OSU absolutely could be left out if they don't make the title game. The committee has repeatedly stated that in-season rankings are used as practice exercises and are an attempt to rank the teams with only facts known at the time. When the season ends, they will add in the criteria of conference champions; they don't project conference championships in season.

Basically the playoff boils down to this: Alabama is in. Clemson/Louisville is in. The B1G champion is in. That leaves the P12 champion, the 1-loss B1G non-champion, potentially Louisville if they aren't the ACC champion, and *maybe* Oklahoma again if they end up winning the B12 (though highly doubtful).

There are lot of scenarios where a 1 loss Louisville takes the spot over 1 loss OSU (or Michigan). I don't think it happens because of OSU's reputation, but it isn't that crazy either. What if the final spot is between Louisville (only loss to #2 Clemson after Clemson wins the ACC) and 1 loss OSU (only loss to 3 loss PSU, which loses to Wisconsin in the B1G title game)? I think OSU is in, but maybe not.

Michigan4Life

November 14th, 2016 at 8:04 PM ^

and they are in, period.

Playoff spots:

1. Bama

2. Winner of OSU/Michigan game (Provided Michigan wins B1G)

3. Clemson/Louisville

4. Washington (if they win Pac-12)

So the final spot boils down to if Washington can win Pac-12 then the playoff spots are all set with OSU/Michigan winner and Clemson or Louisville winning the ACC.

doggdetroit

November 14th, 2016 at 12:20 AM ^

I don't have it backwards. Playing Wisconsin increases the risk of OSU losing again this season and getting knocked out of the playoffs. This is basic statistics. If we say the probability of OSU beating Michigan is 50% (I'm making this up but to illustrate my point...) and the probability of beating Wisconsin in the title game is 50% (again, just making this up), the probability of beating both and thus avoiding a playoff eliminating loss is 25%. If you take away the Wisconsin game, the probability of avoiding a playoff eliminating loss is 50%. 

Since OSU is going to be #2 on Tuesday (and if they aren't #2 my stance will change), they don't have to move up. They only have to avoid a loss. They would be in trouble of being jumped if they were playing an unranked MSU team followed by an unranked Michigan, I agree with you. But that is not the case. Instead, OSU gets one more chance to add another quality win to their resume, which is already superior to everyone else aside from Clemson's. Washington, Wisconsin, or PSU will not be able to add as good of a win to their resumes in the remaining weeks. Clemson is the only team I can see jumping OSU. I cannot see two other teams jumping them.

You keep bringing up TCU's 3 spot drop in 2014 but the situations are not analagous. In 2014, TCU beat a 2-10 Iowa State team that finished 0-9 in the Big 12. OSU will have beaten a 10-2 Michigan team that most feel is the 2nd or 3rd best team in the B1G and that will still remain in the top 10 even after a loss, quite possibly the top 5 if it's a close game. The quality of win is not remotely the same. Further, in 2014 OSU beat #11 Wisconsin by 60, which forced the committee's hand. If OSU won that game by 7, TCU/Baylor gets in over OSU.

Look, we know that the committee looks at four main criteria:
-championships won
-strength of schedule
-comparitive outcomes of common opponents
-head to head results

http://d30ratpzqzalg7.cloudfront.net/CD-drupal-cfp-PROD/s3fs-public/CFP…

Nowhere in their protocol does it say that conference championships are the be all end all nor does it say that head to head is ostensibly the deciding factor nor does it say that strength of schedule is paramount nor does it say that comparitive outcomes are the key. It is very much a holistic approach. 

The committee also has "discretion to select a non-champion or independent under circumstances where that non-champion or independent is unequivocally one of the four best teams in the country".

You cannot say with a straight face that OSU (with wins over Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Nebraska) is not unequivocally one of the four best teams in the country. They pass the "eye test" and they are a top 4 team by virtually every advanced statistiscs ranking out there (#3 per S&P, #2 per Sagarin, #3 per FPI). They are #2 in the polls and #2 in the average of all computer rankings. Ultimately, it is the CFP rankings that decide things but I would absolutely shocked if OSU is not in the top 4 should they win out.

And that's basically my overall point. By not playing Wisconsin, OSU has removed a big road block to the playoff since they will already have compiled a top 4 resume by beating Michigan. A win over Wisconsin would seal the deal, but they don't need it at this point.

 

 

SpikeFan2016

November 14th, 2016 at 1:18 AM ^

You're just so wrong it's laughable. You're probably one of those people who thought that Michigan would beat MSU in 2013-2015 just because ESPN's FPI math said so. 

 

This is not the mathematical BCS system. This is a committee of a small group of people, and one of their only specified criteria is to weigh, heavily, conference championships. Their rankings have fluctuated massively between weeks throughout their history. 

 

No shit OSU has a higher chance of losing if they have another game. That matters less than their need to win a 12th game to increase their competitiveness. You need to go research some Buckeye message boards if you think that they think our loss helped their playoff picture.

 

Let me make it all very clear for you:

  1. We have four spots.
  2. Alabama is in over Ohio State, with or without one loss. There goes one spot. 
  3. A one loss ACC winner Clemson or Louisville automatically jumps Ohio State (they would, at worst, only be one spot below them before December 3rd, when OSU would be idle because they lost their division). There's the second spot. 
  4. Potential Big Ten Champion Penn State automatically jumps Ohio State given their conference championship and head-to-head victory. 
  5. Alternatively, Potential Big Ten Champion Wisconsin, who will be ranked no lower than #5 before the December 3rd weekend if they beat lowly Purdue and Minnesota, will be in the top 4 given their extra Top Ten win over an opponent OSU lost to, 1st place finish in a conference Ohio State placed 3rd in, the fact they played the hardest schedule of Top Ten teams, and that their Athletic Director is one of the 12 voters. Barry Alvarez would sooner murder all other 11 members of that room than let previously #5 ranked Big Ten Champion Wisconsin not enter the Top 4. (The Big Ten is the best conference in the nation; unless its champion has 3 losses, they are in the playoff, there goes spot number 3). 
  6. So, what about spot #4? Well, Ohio State has a shot at it. However, they are far from a shoe-in. If Washington finishes the season 12-1, they will have a loss to a team ranked about #10 that is on a 7 game winning streak (which could very well be higher than what Penn State is ranked at the time if they lose an uncompetitive game to the Badgers). Washington would also have 3 wins over ranked opponents (Utah, Washington State, PAC 12 South Champion). Best case scenario, Ohio State has 4 ranked wins at the time. Although, if Nebraska loses to Iowa that's not a sure thing. Ohio State would have one more ranked win than Washington. Washington would have an extra win plus a conference championship. It would likely come down to the margins of victory down the stretch. Could go either way, but if you think OSU is a shoe-in with a victory over Michigan, you are incredibly naive. That's not even to mention the potential for an 11-1 Big 12 Champion West Virginia who would be coming off beating 2-3 ranked teams in its final three games. A lot could happen.                                                              

 

The point is, the Buckeyes can't control everything that can effect them; Michigan, Alabama, Clemson and Wisconsin all have that luxury. 

Also, literally HILARIOUS that you cite 538 as a source THIS WEEK of all weeks. 

 

Mr. Elbel

November 14th, 2016 at 4:34 PM ^

Hey. Do you remember in 2014 when in week 14 TCU was ranked 3rd, ahead of 4th ranked 12-0 FSU and ahead of 5th ranked 11-1 OSU? You remember where they were ranked in week 15, after having not playing a conference championship game?

6th. They were ranked 6th. Even behind Baylor. It's bullshit to say that just because OSU is ranked 2nd now that they cannot fall out of the top 4. It's happened already once in the very short history of the CFP. TCU fell 3 spots. If OSU falls 3 spots (which is likely if clemson, washington, and psu win their conferences), they're out. It's not at all impossible, and I would say it's in fact likely that they'll fall even if wisconsin wins the B1G.

Everyone is saying that they'll get in ahead of wisconsin because of the head to head, but forgetting that if they win the B1G, they'll have beaten the team that beat osu, making that loss look even worse, especially if either of these next two games are remotely close for psu. So I'd say the B1G winner doesn't matter if it's not them. If Clemson and Washington hold out, OSU will be looking at a NY6 as an at large.

oriental andrew

November 14th, 2016 at 5:07 PM ^

I agree with all of those points except for #4. If PSU somehow manages to win the BTCG in Indy over Wisconsin or Nebraska, I don't think 2 loss PSU jumps 1 loss OSU, despite winning in Indy. Otherwise, agree that it would likely play out as Bama, 1-loss ACC champ, 1-loss PAC12 champ, and probably Wisco or maybe OSU. I don't think PSU makes it, unless CHAOS. 

PB-J Time

November 14th, 2016 at 1:13 PM ^

This was exceedingly well done. 

And I agree very much with the OP in the discussion that OSU cannot assume their in the playoff if they win out

BUT THEY WON'T. GLORIOUS VICTORY AWAITS IN THE SHOE!!!

Carcajou

November 15th, 2016 at 9:59 PM ^

This is why I favor going to a 6-8 team playoff, with automatic places for the P5 conference winners, and at least the top-ranked G5 conference winner.

Put focus back on winning the conference schedule. Make them matter.

I was opposed to the BCS and the 4-team tournament for exactly what we have seen from ESPN and the rest of the media- obsessing on the top 4 since September, in a drive to eliminate teams from discussion, rather than adding to the excitement for as long as possible.