If you’re a college football fan, you better grab a seat because things are going to get mighty interesting this weekend, especially if Clemson and Washington win their respective conference championships. If they do, we’ve got Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Washington and a Big Ten champion – either Penn State or Wisconsin.
That’s five teams for four spots.
What the committee would do in that situation is anyone’s guess.
“The committee is charged with being able to put the best four teams in the playoffs,” Big Ten Network analyst Howard Griffith said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I know there’s been a lot of debate about this – and will be a lot of debate – when it comes down to conference champions. Because it was always, ‘Okay, if you’re the conference champion, you’re a lock. You’re in.’ We’re going to find out a lot about what the committee is going to be all about. It’s been pretty easy for the first two years. Now this year, particularly the last couple of weeks, it’s started to get a little bit interesting. One of the things is because they don’t judge each team by the same criteria, so I think that’s one of the frustrations. I think we, as college football fans and analysts, each team is just different. I guess you have to be able to trust the guys and girls in the room that they’re going to be able to pick the best four teams. But it’s going to be interesting. I think it all really hinges on the Washington/Colorado game. Because there’s still a school of thought that the Big Ten champ is going to be there and Ohio State is going to be there. So this is going to be interesting to watch down to the end.”
If the Buckeyes do get in, there’s no guarantee, of course, that they will remain at No. 2. The committee could bump them down to No. 4 for not winning their conference championship. Or they could put Washington in the 4-spot. Or Penn State or Wisconsin. Whoever winds up there will likely have the unenviable task of playing Alabama (12-0) in the semifinal.
Which playoff-worthy team has the best chance of beating the Tide?
“That’s the real question, right?” Griffith said. “I think most observers of college football will all agree that Alabama is the most talented team in there and that’s who everybody’s trying to beat. Ultimately, I think it’s between who gets the best quarterback play and has the ability to have an athletic quarterback that can make plays and try to stretch the defense and force the defense to defend them. I don’t think that it’s a great matchup necessarily if you have a pocket passer, and that’s what the Badgers have. But the one thing they do have is a defense that can keep it close. I think that’s what you need to be able to do to beat Alabama – to be able to keep the game close and manage that part of it. (J.T.) Barrett can get it done. I think he can make plays and put you in that situation. Obviously Clemson, if (Deshaun) Watson gets back to playing ball the way he did last year in these big games, I think that gives him a chance. But I think you need a mobile quarterback ultimately to beat Alabama.”