Who’s in? The answer just got a lot more complicated
After an action-packed Week 11 slate, the field has narrowed to seven teams with realistic playoff aspirations. (0:59)
After his team’s 38-14 win over No. 20 Iowa, Wisconsin offensive lineman Jason Erdmann wasn’t concerned about where the College Football Playoff selection committee might slot the Badgers in their third ranking of the season on Tuesday night (ESPN and ESPN App, 9 ET).
“It doesn’t matter to us,” Erdmann said. “We’re just going to do what we do. We’ll keep beating teams. We’ll keep playing hard every play. We’re going to keep going 3 feet at a time — that’s our motto, just keep chipping away and ignore the outside noise, just focus on ourselves.”
Even after all the chaos of Saturday, when No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame both lost, undefeated Wisconsin might still be 3 feet shy of the top four on Tuesday. The committee will no doubt shake things up at the top, but it’s not going to be easy. Here’s what we know: Notre Dame is out. Clemson and Miami will play for the ACC title. One-loss Georgia can still win the SEC. USC has clinched the Pac-12 South. Oklahoma is the team to beat in the Big 12. Wisconsin has clinched the Big Ten West.
It’s just not as easy as 1-2-3.
Here’s a look at the biggest question facing each Power 5 conference after Week 11:
Big 12: Is Oklahoma the biggest beneficiary of Saturday’s upsets?
It would make sense for the one-loss Sooners to hop off the No. 5 bubble and into the top four with their win over No. 6 TCU, as it was OU’s third win this season over a top-25 team. Road wins at Ohio State and Oklahoma State continue to bode well for Oklahoma’s résumé, as both of those teams also won on Saturday. The Sooners are clearly the team to beat in the Big 12 and could see TCU again in the conference championship game.
Big Ten: Was that the statement Wisconsin needed to make?
Probably not yet. The undefeated Badgers now have two wins against teams currently ranked by the committee — No. 20 Iowa and No. 25 Northwestern. The question is whether it’s enough, as those are the only two Power 5 opponents Wisconsin has played with a winning record. Their Big Ten opponents are a combined 31-39, while FAU is their best nonconference win. Selection committee chair Kirby Hocutt said last week that Wisconsin’s strength of schedule was the worst among the committee’s top 25 teams. How much could the Badgers’ win over Iowa possibly change that?
SEC: How far will Georgia fall?
This one is tricky because the committee will consider the Bulldogs’ head-to-head loss against two-loss Auburn but isn’t obligated to rank the Tigers ahead of Georgia if it doesn’t think those two teams are comparable. Some of the shine also came off Georgia’s win at Notre Dame considering how soundly the Irish were beaten by Miami. Regardless of how far the Bulldogs fall on Tuesday, their ceiling remains the top four because they have already clinched the East and can still punctuate their résumé with an SEC championship win over Alabama.
ACC: How high can Miami climb?
No. 2 seems appropriate because of the Canes’ resounding win over what was the committee’s No. 3 team, but this is one the committee will struggle with when looking at Miami’s entire résumé. With the exception of Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, Georgia Tech is the only other Power 5 opponent Miami has beaten that is over .500. Also, consider the impact of Virginia Tech’s loss to Georgia Tech. The three-loss Hokies were the only other ranked opponent Miami had beaten this season, and they could fall out of the top 25 on Tuesday. One thing is for sure: The Canes’ win over Notre Dame trumps anything that undefeated Wisconsin has done to this point.
Pac-12: Rooting for more chaos
The Pac-12, which is the first Power 5 conference this season guaranteed to have a two-loss champion, would need a plethora of two-loss conference champions across the board to get back into the conversation. It could happen in the Big Ten if Ohio State wins the league. It could happen in the SEC if Georgia loses to Georgia Tech but wins the SEC. It could happen in the ACC if Clemson loses to South Carolina but wins the league. It could happen in the Big 12 if TCU wins the conference. So, you’re saying there’s a chance?
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