Each week I rank the Power 5 conferences and list my playoff teams, but I want to go in more detail on something that potentially could be a very tricky situation for the college football playoff committee. What are they going to do with Notre Dame if they beat Stanford to finish the season 11-1. At the moment the Irish are ranked 10-1 after a lackluster 19-16 win over Boston College, and are currently ranked #4 in the college football playoff poll.
What the committee does with Notre Dame could very well set the tone for the future of what Notre Dame does with their independent status, what the Big 12 does about a conference championship game, and how teams schedule out of conference.
If Clemson, Iowa, and Alabama win out, they are in the playoffs. For some reason Alabama is immune to the standards of all other teams with 1 loss. This is despite the SEC being as down as we’ve seen in at least a decade.
With only that 4th spot potentially available, how will the committee separate a 1 loss Big 12 champion if it is Oklahoma, Baylor, or Oklahoma State and Notre Dame?
Good luck with that, because we really don’t know how the committee will evaluate a Power 5 conference champion with 1 loss vs a 1 loss Notre Dame team. Here is what I believe the committee will do. Winning a conference championship will significantly help the power 5 teams, but not in every case.
Baylor for example I think won’t jump Notre Dame. Their OOC scheduling was a complete joke. SMU, Lamar and Rice were the Bears OOC opponents. The Oklahoma State win was nice, but will give the Bears only 1 top 25 win. TCU would likely fall out after losing 3 of their last 4 games, with their only win a 23-17 win over a terribly Kansas team. Oklahoma State’s problem will be they lost so late in the year they will fall from 6 somehwere around 10. The committee won’t move a team up 6-7 spots the final week of the season.
In both cases the extra championship game would help Baylor or Oklahoma State overtake Notre Dame.
I really like Oklahoma’s 1 loss chances over Notre Dame though. Yes there is the Texas loss, but the Sooners won at Baylor and would have a win at Oklahoma State. They also attempted to schedule up by playing at Tennessee. The conference championship would push Oklahoma over the Irish as well.
Now what if we have a 1 loss Michigan State team? I like the Spartans over the Irish too. Michigan State lost to Nebraska, but they scheduled and beat Oregon OOC. They would have finished the season winning at Ohio State and winning the Big 10 Title game against a top 10 Iowa team.
So if I’m a guessing man, here’s how I’m ranking the potential 1 loss power 5 champs relative to Notre Dame. I leave out Alabama, because as I said they are immune to the rest of the country’s standards. I also leave out UNC, because until the Heels can reach the top 12, they are too far out to be seriously considered.
Oklahoma/Michigan State > Notre Dame > Baylor/Oklahoma State.
If Notre Dame is left out, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start thinking about whether their independent status is worth it. A 13th game and conference championship would have leveled resume of the Irish to Oklahoma to Michigan State. If Baylor or Oklahoma State gets, I expect especially in the case of Baylor a desire to upgrade their OOC schedule. Possibly the Big 12 pushes for a championship game, which would provide another opportunity to impress the committee.
It is going to be a lot of fun separating these teams. Of course if Stanford beats Notre Dame we would get a nice clean playoff scenario with 4 Power 5 conference champions.