College Football Playoff: The Case for the 2-Loss Teams

I’m going to change things up a little bit this week. Normally I do how I would rank the College Football Playoff rankings, however based on this past week of games, I wouldn’t change a thing and I don’t think the committee will change anything either. It would basically be a copy/paste of last week’s blog, which I will link to here. Basically the same thing, except I would add that I don’t think the committee can totally ignore Wisconsin’s schedule anymore after a relatively convincing win over Michigan. It’s still not as good as the other teams in contention, but that zero in the loss column is huge. Instead, given the fact that teams are starting to lose more frequently, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the cases for each 2-loss team that has a realistic chance at the playoff. I’ve said in the past that 2-loss teams are basically eliminated, which was true at the time, but given the fact that we have so few 1-loss teams left I think a 2-loss team could feasibly make the playoff this year. So let’s get a look at five 2-loss teams I think have a realistic shot at the playoff.

Auburn Tigers

Record: 9-2 (6-1)

Losses: #3 Clemson 14-6 in Game 2, LSU 27-23 in Game 7

Notable Wins: #24 Mississippi State, #1 Georgia (both were blowouts)

Route to the Playoff: Win Out, preferably have Clemson beat Miami in ACC championship with Miami also losing to Pittsburgh

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Jarrett Stidham seems to have finally gotten into a grove in the Auburn offense (photo credit: Auburn Athletics)

Auburn’s got the easiest path to the playoff out of all the 2-loss teams because they essentially control their own destiny. If they defeat Alabama in the Iron Bowl then beat Georgia in the SEC Title Game, you can’t not have them in the playoff considering the resume they will have. When Auburn wins their games, they win HUGE. The closest any team has come to beating Auburn without actually beating them was actually Mercer in Game 3 (go figure) and Auburn beat them 24-10. Their losses were both by 1 score to good football teams; Clemson’s a playoff team and LSU, despite some of their problems, is still a good team at 8-3. If Auburn were to play either of those teams again, especially considering how hot they’ve been, I would feel pretty comfortable with their chances to win. Auburn is traditionally known as more of a defensive team but since losing to LSU, they have put up four straight games scoring at least 40 points. Their route to the playoff definitely starts with Alabama, who is without question the best team in football. But Auburn has done this before, just like with Chris Davis’ return on the short field goal. If they get to the SEC title game against Georgia, they’ll probably be good. They showed last week that they aren’t afraid of the Bulldogs, as they won 40-17 over then #1 Georgia. So I actually kind of like Auburn’s chances of being the first ever 2-loss team to make the playoff.

Chances Auburn Gets In: Pretty Good

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Record: 9-2

Losses: #15 Georgia 20-19 in Game 2, #7 Miami (FL) 41-8 last week

Notable Wins: #11 USC, #14 NC State, Michigan State

Route To Playoff: Miami needs to win out, including blowing out Clemson to win ACC, Clemson needs to lose to South Carolina, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota but beat Ohio State in Big Ten Championship, Oklahoma needs to lose to West Virginia and probably TCU in Big 12 Championship, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech and Auburn/Alabama in SEC Championship, Notre Dame needs to beat Stanford

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Mike McGlinchey and the Notre Dame squad have a tough road ahead if they want to make the playoff (photo credit: Notre Dame Insider)

Yeah that’s a lot that needs to happen for Notre Dame to get in. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. The thing that they have going for them is their losses, surprising enough. Both Georgia and Miami are Top-10 teams and the Irish have some impressive victories over the likes of USC, NC State, and Michigan State. Navy is also a challenging win. You could maybe cut out one or two of these and Notre Dame may have a chance, for example I think Miami could lose to Pittsburgh and Notre Dame still could still make the playoff, but I think things would be smoothest for the Irish if the U won out, making that loss look more impressive. But Georgia kind of needs to lose out in order to clear a path for Notre Dame.

Chances Notre Dame Gets In: Possible, But Need a Lot of Help

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 9-2 (6-1)

Losses: #5 Oklahoma 31-16 in Game 2, Iowa Hawkeyes 55-24 last Saturday

Notable Wins: #2 Penn State, #12 Michigan State

Route to Playoff: Alabama needs to win out, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech, Wisconsin can lose to Minnesota (not sure if they NEED to as long as Ohio State beats them for the Big Ten, but it would certainly help), Clemson needs to lose out, Oklahoma could lose out (but it might be better for their resume if the Sooners won out), Ohio State needs to win out

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Will JK Dobbins’ fantastic freshman season be enough to help propel the Buckeyes to the playoff? (photo credit: 247 Sports)

Ohio State doesn’t have the worst route because the guys they need to lose don’t have the easiest schedules in the world. Georgia Tech is quietly pretty good and I can totally envision them sneaking up on Georgia. I don’t see Wisconsin losing to Minnesota, the Golden Gophers just don’t have the weapons that can put up points against that Badgers defense, but like I mentioned above, as long as Ohio State beats Wisconsin to win the Big Ten I think they will be okay. Clemson losing to South Carolina AND Miami would be huge, as I’m not so sure Ohio State leapfrogs them, unless that loss is South Carolina. If Clemson beats South Carolina but loses to Miami, then maybe Ohio State jumps them, but I’m not as confident in that. The Oklahoma loss is tricky because if the Sooners lose out, that would certainly put Ohio State ahead of them, but it might diminish the value of their loss to them at the beginning of the year. The Iowa loss is going to hurt. As much as voters say they don’t care about margin of victory, it’s really hard for the committee to justify a team being one of the four best in the country despite losing to an unranked team by 31 points.

Chances Ohio State Gets In: Decent

TCU Horned Frogs

Record: 9-2 (6-2)

Losses: #25 Iowa State 14-7 in Game 8, #5 Oklahoma 38-20 Last Week

Notable Wins: #6 Oklahoma State, #23 West Virginia, also worth mentioning the box score of the Kansas game

Route to Playoff: Alabama needs to win out, Oklahoma needs to lose to West Virginia, Clemson needs to lose out, Miami may need to lose to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota, Ohio State needs to lose to Michigan then beat Wisconsin for Big Ten, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech, TCU needs to win out.

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Ben Banogu’s explosion onto the scene has helped put TCU in a position to make the playoff (photo credit: Frogs O’ War)

TCU has a decent resume, as both of their losses are to ranked teams. They’re pretty much guaranteed to get their rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. If they win out and get some help, I can totally envision them making the playoff. In fact, I think it’s totally okay if Notre Dame beats Stanford and TCU still gets in over them. No conference championship game will hurt the Irish whereas the Big 12 no longer has that issue and TCU could use it as a springboard into the school’s first ever playoff. That’s a lot of help, they need, though. I’m not sure if Miami necessarily NEEDS to lose to Pitt, but that would do a lot of favors for TCU. But everything else I mentioned above absolutely has to happen if TCU has a chance.

Chances TCU Gets In: Not Great

USC Trojans

Record: 10-2 (8-1)

Losses: #16 Washington State 30-27 in Game 5, #13 Notre Dame 49-14 in Game 8

Notable Wins: #14 Stanford, #22 Arizona

Route to Playoff: Notre Dame needs to lose to Stanford, Georgia needs to lose out, Alabama needs to win out, Oklahoma needs to lose out, TCU needs to lose to Baylor, Clemson needs to lose out, Miami needs to lose to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota, Ohio State needs to either lose to Michigan or Wisconsin (preferably Michigan, especially if Wisconsin beats Minnesota), USC needs to win the Pac-12 championship game against either Stanford, Washington, or Washington State

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Ronald Jones II is playing the best football of his career at the perfect time for USC

Yikes, that’s a rough path. I probably missed a game or two as well because USC needs a LOT of help. One thing that hurts them is that their regular season is over. They don’t have that one more game that the 10 teams ranked ahead of them do. Their quality of losses are pretty good, so that will be helpful, especially if it’s Wazzu that the Trojans end up beating in the Pac 12 title game. That could potentially erase their loss earlier in the season in the minds of voters, though I’m sure they won’t mind beating Washington or Stanford for the title. The fact that the Trojans were ranked 11th in the latest CFP does them no favors, though, showing that the voters value the quality of Auburn, Ohio State, Notre Dame, TCU, and even Penn State over them.

Chances USC Gets In: Good Freaking Luck

I left Penn State out of this one because they will not be playing for a conference championship, as Ohio State has already won that honor in the Big Ten East. Their fate has pretty much been sealed and their remaining game is Maryland, which isn’t exactly the greatest resume builder in the world. But out of all these teams, I think Auburn has the easiest path. If they win out, I think they would be hard to keep out of the playoff. Let me know what you thought of my 2-loss evaluations in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

One thought on “College Football Playoff: The Case for the 2-Loss Teams

  1. Pingback: College Football Picks: Rivalry Week | Wyman's Sports

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