My mom’s going to be so mad at me. I kind of want Ohio State to lose this week.
My parents met when they were both teaching and attending graduate school at Ohio State and my mom spent some of the best times of her life in Columbus, Ohio. Just try saying something bad about Woody Hayes or John Havlicek around her. You’ll suffer for it.
And the reason I sort of hope the Buckeyes go down this week (or next) isn’t really even a good one. I’m keen to stir up chaos. College Football Playoff chaos, that is. What I want is for every team ranked 4th-12th to lose at least once more except one: Central Florida.
It’s not that I have any particular loyalty to UCF. My parents didn’t meet there, as noted. I didn’t go there, nor did any of my relatives or friends. It’s just . . . I think I want the underdog to get a shot.
Central Florida plays in the American Athletic Conference. Last season, they went 13-0 and they haven’t lost this year either. Because the AAC isn’t one of the Power 5 conferences, they have trouble getting ranked highly enough to be considered for one of the four playoff spots used to determine the national champions of FBS football.
The Knights’ schedule holds them back. Even though they haven’t dropped a game this year. Even though they didn’t lose last year. Even though they beat Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Even though they beat Pitt this year, the first place team in the ACC’s Coastal Division. That’s not enough for the CFP poll. For now.
It’s somewhat understandable to vote for a one-loss Power Five (the biggest conferences in college football’s top division) school over a zero-loss Group of Five (the rest of the FBS conferences) university. Of all the losses by teams ranked above UCF, only one has come to a team not ranked in the Top 25: Washington State’s three-point defeat to a USC team still in contention for the PAC-12 title. So you can understand choosing, say a Michigan team whose only loss was in Week One to undefeated Notre Dame by a touchdown over a UCF team who gave up 40 points to Temple (although I should point out that UCF beat SMU by six more points than the Wolverines did, just sayin’).
So in order to get that outsider into the mix, something extraordinary must happen. I think what’s gotta happen is a lot of losses. As Chris Fallica pointed out, no team with two losses has ever made the CFP. So it appears to me that what we need is a bunch of two-loss teams from major conferences.
We currently have three undefeated teams – Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame. I’m okay with them staying as is. There would be some romance to having a CFP made up of all zero-loss squads (including UCF as the fourth CFP team), plus it’s a lot to osk for one of those teams to drop TWO games between now and the end of the season. Top-ranked Bama can handle one-loss Georgia for us, as they’ll play them in the SEC Championship. Our best chance for a Washington State loss would be to Washington in three weeks, but they also have Arizona and Colorado on their schedule, plus a potential Pac-12 title game.
The Big 12 and Big Ten are the biggest hurdles. Oklahoma and West Virginia each only has one loss. Luckily, they play each other November 23, so somebody has to lose. If both teams enter that game with only one loss, the winner will be in the Big 12 championship game. We just need whomever that is to lose that title game in Arlington, thus leaving the Big 12 with no one-loss teams.
And that brings us back to THE Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. As much as I want this underdog scenario to work out, I can’t in good conscience (because I love my mother) root for Michigan to beat Ohio State in the game that annually concludes each team’s regular season. So for my UCF scenario to work out, OSU is going to have drop a close one to Michigan State or Maryland sometime in the next two weeks.
Actually, my preference would be for the Buckeyes to get that second loss in the Big Ten Football Championship Game – to Northwestern, where my father got his Master’s. It’s the best chance I have to stir CFP chaos while also keeping as much on my family’s good side as possible. Go Knights. Go Wildcats.