Starting 11: The Big Ten Is Nearly Dead Edition

Remember the idiots who argued the college football playoff would lessen the value of the regular season? That might be the dumbest sports argument this side of the Houston Texans taking a knee for their owner’s use of an idiom.

The college football playoff has made November absolutely electric and I can’t wait to see what transpires over the final three weeks of the regular season and then the college football title games.

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Okay, here we go.

1. My college football playoff right now would look like this:

1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. Notre Dame

4. Oklahoma

5. Clemson

6. Miami

7. Wisconsin

I believe it’s really close right now between Oklahoma and Clemson, but I think Oklahoma’s two best wins — at Ohio State and at Oklahoma State — and their loss to Iowa State is better than Clemson’s two best wins — Auburn and at Virginia Tech or N.C. State — and Clemson’s loss at Syracuse.

I suspect that’s the decision the committee will wrestle with the most and regardless of which team they put in 4th don’t you have to put Oklahoma in there next week if they beat top ten foe TCU?

I put up a poll question asking whether Clemson or Oklahoma would be your fourth playoff team and over 11k of you voted last night. You can see those poll results yourself below. So far the Outkick voters agree with me and believe Oklahoma should be in the four spot by a 55-45 margin.

2. Georgia and Alabama will both be in the playoff if they enter the SEC title game 12-0.

The last, biggest obstacle for both teams?

Games at Jordan-Hare in the final three weeks of the season. Georgia is at Auburn this coming weekend and Alabama is there the final weekend of the regular season.

So if you don’t want the SEC to get two playoff teams you better be rooting like crazy for Auburn to pull off a win over at least one of these two teams. (I don’t think most people have realized, by the way, that if Auburn somehow beat both teams the Tigers would win the SEC West. Think about this run Auburn has to win the SEC title — Auburn has to beat Georgia, then Alabama then Georgia again all in less than a month to win the SEC title.

But if Auburn loses to both teams, as I think is the most likely, and 12-0 Alabama plays 12-0 Georgia, I just don’t see how the loser here isn’t the best one loss team resume in the country.

3. The Big Ten’s last playoff hope is 13-0 Wisconsin.

It’s amazing how much things changed in a week.

Last week the Big Ten could have held out hope of 12-1 Ohio State and 11-1 Penn State both being considered for the playoff.

But then Ohio State and Penn State suffered absolutely devastating losses to their playoff hopes on Saturday. Especially Penn State, which played a really tough game against Michigan State featuring hours and hours of delay, and that game ended on a made field goal to end the game.

Meanwhile, what’s up with Ohio State and Urban Meyer? The Buckeyes don’t lose very often, but when they do lose they get smoked.

Losing to Iowa on the road wasn’t unfathomable, but losing and giving up 55 points? That was shocking.

Urban Meyer is now 7-3 in his last ten games and he’s lost the three games by 31, 15, and 31 points.

Putting this into context, Nick Saban has not lost a regular season game by 7 or more points since 2010.

Now that Ohio State and Penn State are effectively eliminated from the playoff race, all eyes turn to Wisconsin, which still doesn’t have a top 25 win, and needs to finish 13-0 to put themselves in the playoff mix.

So can the Badgers go 13-0 and win the Big Ten title? Because otherwise I don’t think the Big Ten will have a playoff team.

4. Notre Dame vs. Miami is absolutely massive again.

God bless Catholics vs. Convicts 2017 edition. (Who will write the column saying you can’t use this phrase any more? Because you know it’s coming, right?)

If Notre Dame wins the Irish only have to beat Navy and then win at Stanford and their regular season will end 11-1.

Then the Irish would be the equivalent of a golfer who posted a low score and got to see how everyone else finishes.

It’s hard to see how an 11-1 Notre Dame team with a single one point loss to Georgia would be left out of the playoff.

But if Miami wins the Irish are eliminated from the playoff and the committee’s job gets much easier. Because then you’d probably have 11-0 Miami playing 11-1 Clemson for the ACC title. That’s a default playoff game since whichever team wins the ACC title would advance to the playoff.

That would also free up 12-1 Oklahoma or 12-1 TCU to get a playoff spot too.

So the playoff committee should be rooting for Miami this weekend if it wants a clean finish.

5. The Big 12 comes down to 12-1 Oklahoma, 12-1 TCU or bust.

Conveniently both of these teams play at Oklahoma this weekend.

Win and Oklahoma just has at Kansas — good lord, hide the women and children — and West Virginia left on the schedule.

But then comes a rematch with the top two loss team in the Big 12.

And who will that team be?

Because it seems likely that multiple teams will finish with two losses and we’ll have to apply tiebreaker rules to see who advances. The best result for Oklahoma? Iowa State in the Big 12 title game so the Sooners can avenge their lone loss.

6. The Pac 12’s only playoff hope left is 12-1 Washington.

But the Huskies just don’t have many top teams left on the schedule and a 12-1 Pac 12 champ would rank behind every other major conference’s one loss champ.

Plus, ,the best game Washington can get would be against a 10-2 USC team with a loss to Notre Dame. So how much of a slingshot effect could Washington get from this win.

Not much.

So Washington needs substantial chaos in the other major conferences to get back into the playoff mix.

7. The ACC’s playoff chances are down to Clemson or Miami.

And the simplest solution to the playoff race in the conference is 11-1 Clemson against 11-0 Miami for the ACC title game, which would be a default playoff game.

As I mentioned above, if Miami beats Notre Dame it clears up things to a great extent because then we’ve got the two SEC teams, the ACC champ and the Big 12 champ, probably, all in as the top four playoff teams.

8. Okay, but what’s the biggest possible mess that the playoff committee could face?

We could end up with this scenario: 13-0 Alabama, 12-1 Georgia, 11-1 Notre Dame, 12-1 Clemson, 12-1 Oklahoma, 13-0 Wisconsin, and 12-1 Washington.

That’s seven highly deserving teams who aren’t separated by much.

How would you pick the four who played for the title? And how could the three teams left out not feel like they were getting screwed?

In this scenario I have no idea what the committee would do, but it’s the worst possible outcome.

9. How many big jobs are going to open up this year?

Right now I have Florida, Tennessee, UCLA, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Texas A&M all opening up.

And if Gus Malzahn loses to Georgia and Alabama that job could open up as well.

Here’s my prediction on who each school hires: Florida: Scott Frost, Tennessee: Dan Mullen, UCLA: Chip Kelly, Nebraska: Mike Leach, Arkansas: Mike Norvell, and Texas A&M: Chad Morris.

I’ll update these coaching guesses each week down the stretch of the season.

10. My Heisman Top Two:

1. Baker Mayfield

2. Saquon Barkley

That’s it, no one else is in the running right now.

And I now believe this is Baker Mayfield’s award if his Sooners can win the Big 12.

11. SEC power rankings 1-14:

All season long, the Starting 11 and SEC rankings are sponsored by Krystal.  Krystal burgers are only 79 cents each – only 79 cents! – all day, every day.

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1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Auburn
4. Mississippi State
5. LSU
6. Texas A&M
7. Kentucky
8. South Carolina
9. Missouri
10. Ole Miss
11. Arkansas
12. Florida
13. Vanderbilt
14. Tennessee

 

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