Cavalcade of Whimsy: College Football Playoff's Four Best Team Theory

Cavalcade of Whimsy: College Football Playoff's Four Best Team Theory

College Football Cavalcade

Cavalcade of Whimsy: College Football Playoff's Four Best Team Theory


A man is nothing without his beliefs. And this ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball …

This year, I’m blowing off my belief system.

I’m firm that you shouldn’t be able to play for the national title if you can’t win your conference championship, but in a one time only exception, I get it.

You can’t have a College Football Playoff without this Alabama team in it. So yeah, to all of those in my little Playoff Purity cult, I apologize – I’m still with you. I don’t believe this when it comes to Clemson, but only for Bama. By the way, don’t drink that.

So before we do this for real, and before the conference championships get started, let’s try to establish some ground rules on what the committee should do and what the College Football Playoff should be depending on what happens this weekend.

Notre Dame is in. I might not think the Irish have one of the four best teams, and it would be a better tournament without them, but I also forgot the horseradish sauce for the Thanksgiving beef tenderloin. It’s done. Of course the Irish are in.

Alabama is in. Even a 42-3 Georgia SEC Championship win won’t be enough to keep the Tide out. Whether you think that’s right or fair doesn’t matter – Alabama won its way in after destroying Auburn.

So if we can all come to an agreement on those two things, then that’s the baseline. We have to find one or two more teams.

Clemson, of course, is in if it wins the ACC Championship. But if the Tigers lose, can we keep them out? The ACC is too awful that they shouldn’t automatically get a free pass if they have one bad day against a meh Pitt team.

Alabama losing to Georgia is one thing, Clemson losing to the Panthers would be an issue. If that happens, Ohio State and Oklahoma should get in if Bama beats Georgia, and put the Dawgs in, too. But living in the land of the real, the committee is going to put Clemson in as long as it’s not a Pitt blowout.

It’s going to come down to one spot.

If Georgia wins, and everything else is chalk, it’s done. Clemson 1, Georgia 2/3, Notre Dame 2/3, Alabama 4.

Which, by the way, means Clemson really, really wants Bama to win the SEC Championship. Playing the Tide in the national title is different than playing them with 20 days to prepare. Just ask 2017 Clemson.

UCF … next.

I think Ohio State is more in this than the rankings will probably show on Tuesday night. That’s speculation, of course, along with the gut feeling that no way, no how will the College Football Playoff go three years in a row without the Big Ten champion – especially leaving out a 12-1 team that just destroyed the CFP No. 4 team in, technically, the most impressive victory by anyone so far this year.

Oklahoma will be ranked higher than the Buckeyes in the next-to-last CFP rankings, but when push comes to shove, if all things are equal, my guess is that the Buckeyes will get the call if they finish the drill.

So what’s the bar? What does the final score have to be? The line is set at Ohio State -14 over Northwestern, but it’s really -42. Against the Cats, the Buckeyes have to pull a 2014 Big Ten Championship 59-0 win over Wisconsin-like performance to be the “yeah, you have to get them in” team. However …

If Alabama and Clemson win, Oklahoma gets in, and Ohio State is out, if the defense shows anything against Texas. Oklahoma has to give the committee something to work with. The Sooners won’t own a resumé win like Ohio State has with what just happened against Michigan, but they don’t have a Purdue loss, either.

If it’s 55-52 OU for the Big 12 title, the CFP has an out.

“In the end, we just didn’t think the Sooner defense was good enough.”

But to be on the record, if it’s Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame, I’m totally cool with either Ohio State or Oklahoma if they both win. No real beef either way for that one spot – there’s no totally wrong answer. With that said …

Georgia and Alabama are both in if Georgia wins. If Georgia loses in a close battle, as a nation, can we all be okay if the Dawgs are in over Ohio State or Oklahoma? If it goes into overtime, or comes down to a last-second Tide field goal, is that good enough? It should be, but it won’t.

Of course … Northwestern and Pitt are going to win to screw everything up with upset wins, Alabama will beat Georgia by 50, and …

UCF is going to beat Memphis 77-2.

NEXT: Others have it better, but not too many …


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