Here are a few groundrules / assumptions / references
1) In two years, no team has made the playoffs without a conference title.
2) With only two years of history, we do not know how the committee will react based on history.
3) We will reference the Sagarin Ratings (team and conference) .
4) The CFPC has a charter here.
The CFPC charter specifically lists as factors for comparable teams (not necessarily in order):
- Championships won
- Strength of schedule
- Head-to-head competition (if it occurred)
- Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)
Snapshot of each team
Sagarin). One spot confirmed.
2) Ohio State - And here is where things get complicated. The Big 10 featured the two highest rated teams last weekend, however, neither is playing for the conference championship this weekend. The dreaded loss of tiebreaker for Ohio State vs. Penn State head to head in their one loss keeps them from Indianapolis. At number 2 in all polls, plus a win over a Top 5 team last weekend, some are calling them a lock. The CFPC criteria states that if teams are "comparable" then championships becomes a discriminator. I would think Washington and Clemson, also with one loss, would be comparable, giving the Buckeyes lack of hardware is a strike. Strength of Schedule is another criteria. While adding Oklahoma out of conference helps, the Big 10 East is ranked below the Pac 12 North/Washington (but ahead of the ACC Atlantic/Clemson) according to Sagarin. Within a point in
4) Washington - Also at 11-1, their resume is great in conference (played the second toughest Power 5 Division according to Sagarin) as well as USC/Utah from the South (USC was a loss, but still). Their biggest problem is a very weak out of conference schedule (picked the wrong Big 10 team to schedule in Rutgers). A win over Colorado (again, 13th game) gives them
a huge SOS boost, however. So it would come down to the committee's judgment on whether Washington and Ohio State are comparable, and whether their championship outweighs Ohio State's strength of schedule. I think it is comparable and the championship means more. The committee should give the nod to Washington in the playoffs if Washington wins.
6) Wisconsin - If Wisconsin wins the Big 10, they're suddenly with coveted hardware that gets them in the discussion. Throw in an out of conference schedule that included Louisiana State and they drew Michigan and Ohio State from
This to me concludes the teams that have a good shot if they win on Championship Weekend. Others would need a lot of help, mostly Clemson and Washington losing (giving clear nods to Alabama, Big 10 winner, and Ohio State with one spot left). More analysis.
So to summarize the eight scenarios and who I think should get in (regardless of SEC and Big 12 outcomes):
Winners: Playoff contenders (in order, I doubt even Alabama would slip much with a loss)
PSU/Clem/Wash: Bama, Clem, Wash, PSU
Wisc/Clem/Wash: Bama, Clem, Wash, OSU
PSU/VT/Wash: Bama, Wash, PSU, OSU
Wisc/VT/Wash: Bama, Wash, OSU, Wisc
PSU/Clem/Colo: Bama, Clem, PSU, OSU
Wisc/Clem/Colo: Bama, Clem, OSU, Wisc
PSU/VT/Colo: Bama, PSU, OSU, Big12
Wisc/VT/Colo: Bama, OSU, Wisc, Big12
At the end of the day, the closest resume's are:
Pac 12 Conference Champion Washington vs. #2 and 11-1 Ohio State. It's a matter of overall season vs. conference title. And geography, will the committee want to exclude the Pac 12. Would not play well to be so midwest/southeast centric.
Wisconsin/Penn State Big 10 conference champ vs. #2 and 11-1 Ohio State. How much does a conference championship mean? How much does head-to-head play? Can they take two of these?
At the end of the day, I think this is what happens:
Wisc/Clem/Colo: Bama, Clem, OSU, Wisc