The 2015 college football regular season has come to an end with two undefeated teams (Clemson and Iowa) as we head into championship week, which will determine if the top 4 teams right now (Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Iowa) remain in the pole position to make the College Football Playoff, or are win for some changes and surprises.
There were still some things up in the air heading into Saturday, but there are fewer questions now. In the SEC, Alabama made sure no last minute slip happened by beating Auburn who’ll go bowling, but without feeling good about it. They did hold on for one half against the Crimson Tide, but couldn’t slow down Derrick Henry and their offense, as almost always this season, looked awful from start to finish, not giving Ole Miss the chance to turn things upside down in the SEC West.
Their SEC championship game rivals will be Florida, who lost 27-2 at home to Florida State. This probably means that even if they do beat Alabama, they won’t make it into the playoffs. Hard to see a two-loss team doing it under the current conditions (with Clemson and Iowa undefeated, Michigan State with one loss, Oklahoma with one loss), even if they are the SEC champions with a win over Alabama. Frankly, it’s hard seeing Florida do anything considering how poorly they played.
Most eyes went towards the Big Ten, where the weekend started with Iowa getting the job done and beating Nebraska, which should help them maintain the #4 slot going into the championship game. An undefeated Iowa, even if from the weak Big Ten West, is impossible to keep out of the playoffs Final Four. Ohio State, the best team in the conference that lost to the wrong team at the wrong time, walked all over Michigan to show it’s going to be a while before Jim Harbaugh makes the Wolverines elite again. It wasn’t enough. Michigan State did their job against Penn State. This is probably good news for Iowa, who are better matches up to face the Spartans then the Buckeyes, who will settle for one of the New Year’s Bowl Games.
Oklahoma present an interesting case. Some are calling them the Ohio State of 2015, and there are similarities, as after one loss to a much inferior team (one of the worst Texas sides ever) they’ve bounced back to beat up everyone in the conference, including TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State in impressive fashion. They won the conference outright, finally giving the Big 12 it’s ‘One, True Champion’. But they don’t have the ability to leave an impression like teams in championship games do. Will not having one once again hurt the best team in the Big 12? Oklahoma are harder to keep out, unlike Baylor or TCU.
The Pac-12 won’t be sending a team to the championship game, unless Florida and North Carolina win theirs, and maybe even then they won’t. It does seem like the committee ranked them setting them up for a surprise entry into the Final Four, but in any case, the two loss Cardinal need to beat USC for a second time this season in the conference championship game in order to give themselves a chance of playing for the national title. USC, even with a win, have four losses this season, and won’t get to join the party.
In the ACC it’s simple for one side, complicated a bt for the other. Clemson are the #1 team in the country and undefeated. Win and they go in, lose and they probably don’t get in. We don’t know if being a conference champion is what qualifies you to be a playoff team, but losing to North Carolina isn’t going to help their case, even with just one loss against a good team. For the Tar Heels, who might move into the top 10 after the next rankings are released, winning the ACC might not be enough, but maybe under the right circumstances, their one loss season (8-0 in the ACC) with their defeat on week 1 to South Carolina, they somehow slip in, shocking everyone.