College Football Playoff Landscape Crowded by One-Loss Pileup

Story posted November 17, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joe Esquivel-Murphy

As one of the craziest weekends of college football history ended, the Playoff committee was faced with a tough decision on where the one-loss teams should be ranked. Every team in the four-team playoff lost except for Alabama, which allowed the committee to make some interesting choices.

When the rankings came out, the committee decided that the Ohio State Buckeyes were the top one-loss team in the nation, which surprised no one. Ohio State has been dominant throughout the season and is a blocked field goal away from being undefeated.

The most interesting thing the committee did was keep Michigan and Clemson in the playoff as they rounded out the top four, but even more surprising was the fact the committee did not lower the Wolverines in the rankings.

Michigan entered the weekend being ranked third and lost by one point on a game-winning field goal at Iowa. The other problem with the Wolverines is that starting quarterback Wilton Speight could miss the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.

Clemson also lost its game by one this weekend on a game-winning field goal, but the Tigers lost their game to Pittsburgh at home. The committee decided to put Clemson lower than Michigan due to the fact that the Wolverines have better wins and their loss is a little more acceptable.

At this point in the season, the Clemson victory over Louisville is better than any individual victory achieved by Michigan, but the Wolverines have better wins overall. Dominant victories against current top 10 teams in Penn State and Colorado prove that the Wolverines are a dominant team.

The interesting thing is that as of right now the Big Ten would be sending two teams into the playoff if the season ended today. That will probably not be the case as Ohio State and Michigan have their annual matchup coming up in two weeks, with the loser being effectively eliminated from the playoff.

Louisville and Washington sit right outside of the playoff being ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, but might need a little help to get into the playoff. The Cardinals especially need help as their strength of schedule is pretty weak and do not truly have any signature wins on their resume.

The one thing Louisville does have going for them is the eye test as the Cardinals play like they clearly belong in the playoff and have the Heisman frontrunner in Lamar Jackson. The same holds true for Washington as the Huskies have been completely dominant in some games thus far.

The Washington loss to USC really stings as it dropped them out of the playoff and out of the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 North. The Huskies have been great all year, but need to win this week against Arizona State and rival Washington State to put themselves into the Pac-12 championship game.

If the Huskies are able to win out, they could find themselves in the playoff as the champions of the Pac-12 and may leave Louisville and Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson on the outside looking in.

 

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu