For you college football fans that skipped out on what should have been some ho-hum Friday night games, you missed out. Two undefeated teams ranked in the top 10 went down.
#2 Clemson was stunned in the Carrier Dome by Syracuse 27-24, while #8 Washington State was crushed by Cal 37-3.
Just a week ago we were discussing what Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State meant for the Big 12’s College Football Playoff chances. It was a fun conversation, albeit also concerning. But after Friday night’s events, the door is, once again, wide open for the Big 12 conference.
The ACC is now in a total state of flux. The teams with the best chances to make the College Football Playoff are still Clemson and Miami. Clemson has the impressive non-conference win over Auburn and if they run the table from here, they are going to make the playoff. But depending on the health of quarterback Kelly Bryant, these next three games for the Tigers look awfully tricky: vs. Georgia Tech, @ NC State, vs. Florida State.
Miami is the lone undefeated left in the Coastal, but still needs to play Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, plus a potential ACC Championship Game.
Then there’s the wild card in NC State. There’s still plenty left to find out about the Wolfpack, but they have had a helluva last few weeks beating Florida State, Syracuse and Louisville.
Barring chaos, I believe an ACC Champion will find itself in the College Football Playoff.
Now to the Pac-12, which is in a much more precarious situation. The best case scenario for the conference would’ve been an undefeated Washington or Washington State rolling to a conference title. Unfortunately for the Pac-12, only the Huskies can accomplish that goal. A one-loss USC will get the benefit of the doubt from the committee, and would include theoretical wins over Notre Dame, Colorado, UCLA and the Pac-12 North Champion. Washington State had such an awful non-conference, their margin for error was slim to none. And their loss Friday night wasn’t just tough luck or lack of focus, i.e. Oklahoma vs. Iowa State. The Cougars were run off the field by Cal 37-3.
So what does all this mean for the Big 12?
It re-opens a door that was only slightly cracked as of last Sunday morning.
The biggest benefit the Big 12 has going for it is that their conference championship game features #1 vs. #2, which is likely to be a pair of teams ranked in the top 15, or possibly even in the top 10.
As of late last week it felt like TCU had to run the table because TCU is never going to get the national respect and is not as valuable in the Playoff as Ohio State or Michigan. The committee can deny television partners and ratings don’t play a factor, but I’ll never believe it. That has been evident in two of three College Football Playoffs when Ohio State should not have made it in Year 1 or Year 3 (and yes, I realize they won the National Title in Year 1).
The other possibility for the Big 12 was for Oklahoma or Oklahoma State to run the table. But OU was the preferred option for the conference because of the non-conference win against Ohio State.
But the Big 12 gets a little helping hand because as the widely accepted (whether it’s true or not) fifth of the Power 5 conferences, means there is less margin for error.
The more uncertainty across the country and for some of the top teams in America, the more likely the Big 12 finds itself back in the College Football Playoff for the first time in two years.
Chaos, continue… please.