It is mid-November and the college football season is really hitting its stride. While it is fair to suggest that the upcoming weekend is not exactly chalked full of high-profile match-ups, at least one (Michigan at Wisconsin) provides fodder for the College Football Playoff and the sport often experiences profound weirdness at unexpected times.
Neil Paine of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight dove into some of that weirdness through the prism of the CFP and unearthed a few “doomsday scenarios” that would make the committee’s job quite difficult. Some are fairly easy to see, with Alabama losing to Auburn (and not making the SEC Championship Game) and Ohio State running the table as Big Ten champs as plausible situations that have been covered to some extent.
Still others, though, are wilder and they include the (very real) situation in which TCU wins out and claims the Big 12 title with a rematch win over Oklahoma. The single craziest one is basically inconceivable but Paine does a good job in laying it out as one with “nine teams have at least a 10 percent chance of making the playoff after conference championships” according to the FiveThirtyEight model. It is as follows.
“The first domino to fall here would be Michigan beating Wisconsin this weekend (which our model gives a 24 percent chance of happening). Then Bama would need to lose the Iron Bowl, Georgia would beat Auburn for the SEC, Clemson would beat Miami for the ACC, TCU would beat Oklahoma for the Big 12 and Ohio State would beat Wisconsin for the Big Ten. (Plus, USC would need to win the Pac-12, most likely over Stanford.) Needless to say, it’s very improbable that all of those circumstances would line up together perfectly — but if they do, it could make for the most headache-inducing committee meeting in CFP history.”
As noted, this only comes to fruition (or even has the opportunity to) if Michigan beats Wisconsin but that isn’t exactly an outrageous outcome given the modest point spread of only 7.5 points. It has to be noted that this isn’t at all likely but it’s fun to consider, especially if you root for chaos.