After another crazy week of college football, we once again had some crazy shakeups in the polls and shakeups in what could be the greatest postseason in all of sports if they let it be done right. Again, every conference champ gets an automatic bid with 5 at large bids determined by BCS standings which makes a 16 team playoff. Here are the teams that would make the playoff if the season ended today.
1. LSU (SEC leader)
After another solid SEC win at Ole Miss, LSU once again faces another big time opponent next week with Arkansas coming into Baton Rouge. They need to dodge yet another bullet to just get to the SEC Championship game and have a shot at this automatic bid.
2. Alabama (At Large #1)
Bama backed their way back into the runner-up spot and could back into the SEC Championship or even the #1 spot in the polls if LSU slips up this week. Just don't lose like you tried to do against Georgia Southern.
3. Arkansas (At Large #2)
The LSU-Arkansas game would be an example of a game that would lose some weight under this system because both teams have pretty much wrapped up a spot in the bracket where this week they will be fighting for a chance to play in the National Championship. However, Arkansas loses this game in a playoff system and they have a tough matchup in the first round instead of a lower level conference champ like the top 3 would have.
4. Oklahoma St. (Big 12 leader)
After an embarrassing loss to Iowa St. they should have dropped further. However, due to some other big losses they not only drop just 2 spots but hold onto the lead in the Big 12. They have to bounce back in a hurry for Bedlum against Oklahoma or else they will be facing a potential road game in the first round only a couple weeks after being #2 in all the land.
5. Virginia Tech (ACC leader)
As long as they keep winning, they will be a force in the playoff. However, they have a rivalry game next against a surging Virginia and then a conference championship against Clemson, who gave them their one loss. So "just keep winning" will be a challenge.
6. Stanford (At Large #3)
This happens twice right now in the polls: a team gets an at large spot that has a higher overall rank than their conference leader. Stanford could end up in the top 4 once it's all said and done. Watch out for Notre Dame though. Luck against the Irish.
7. Boise St. (At Large #4)
Boise found their way back into the bracket after some losses last week. As long as they keep winning, they will end up bringing a tough opponent to the Smurf Turf in the opening round and become a dark horse to take it all.
8. Houston (C-USA leader)
They just keep winning. Last week they were on the road playing a winnable game, and now they would be hosting a home game. Before it's all said and done, they could (and should) end up even higher. The ultimate wild card is a team that has won every game they have played and everyone overlooks.
9. Oklahoma (At Large #5)
The last at large goes to Oklahoma, but with a loss in the Bedlum game knocks them out of the playoff picture after a costly loss to Baylor. A win against OK St. not only moves them up, but would clinch them the conference.
10. Oregon (Pac-12 leader)
The biggest challenge Oregon has left is the Civil War against Oregon St. which is never an easy game. However, even with the loss to USC they can win out and take the conference with more losses overall than Stanford.
11. Michigan St. (Big 10 leader)
The brutal war for control in the Big 10 currently has Michigan St. coming out on top, but it could easily be Penn St. or Wisconsin if they win the championship game, or even Michigan if Sparty slips up against Northwestern. Just ask Husker fans, it can happen.
12. TCU (MWC leader)
One more win and they wrap up this spot thanks to the Boise St. win. With that game being against UNLV, it looks likely they will be a fighting for some upsets in the bracket.
13. Northern Illinois (MAC leader)
This team just keeps winning and looking good doing it. However, a slip up in the MAC Championship against Ohio knocks them out. These conference championships in the smaller conferences can become like Championship Week in March Madness. Win and you're in. Lose and you're out. No matter who you are.
14. Louisiana Tech (WAC leader)
Tech played their way into this spot by beating Nevada last week. With a win against New Mexico St. they clinch it.
15. Arkansas St. (Sun Belt leader)
Undefeated in conference puts them in the field with only two overall losses to two strong big conference teams. They won't be a complete cake walk. The Sun Belt champ is always a scary team to face in the bowls.
16. Louisville (Big East leader)
With a loss by Cincinnati, the top of the forever depleted Big East barely has a .500 record. They have to beat South Florida still which will not be easy. This spot will most likely end up going to a team like Rutgers if (or when) Louisville slips up again.
Teams on the outside looking in
Kansas St. - Loss from Oklahoma against OK St. puts them in.
Georgia - Major upset in the SEC Championship mixes everything up and thrusts the Bulldogs into the automatic bid in the SEC and takes an at large bid away from someone like Boise St. Thinking about this scenario in the reality that is the BCS, what if Georgia beats LSU/Bama/Arkansas in the SEC Championship game? Georgia goes to the Sugar Bowl automatically and due to the rule that only one at large bid can come from each conference you will most likely not be allowed to have a 1/2 National Championship. For instance, let's say Arkansas beats LSU this week. That would most likely put Bama at 1, Arkansas at 2, and LSU at 3. Now let's say Bama loses to Georgia in the SEC Championship. That puts Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, Arkansas becomes #1, LSU goes to #2, and Bama drops to #3 or lower. Arkansas would be in the National Championship, but LSU as the #2 team in the nation would not be allowed to because there would already be 2 SEC teams in the BCS. If Bama doesn't fall any further than #3 after losing to Georgia, you would be forced to have Arkansas play the #4 team in the country in Oklahoma St./Virginia Tech/Stanford. Talk about chaos! Even if LSU beats Arkansas, as long as Georgia wins the SEC Championship game it is impossible in the current system for two SEC teams to play in the National Championship. I don't know about you, but I'll be rooting for the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game so the BCS would have to be questioned by everyone.
Michigan - A big rivalry win against Ohio St. might put them in position to take a spot if someone slips up.
Wisconsin - The likely champ in the Leaders division of the Big 10 can hop into the dance with a payback win in the rematch against Sparty in the first Big 10 Championship game.
Clemson - They have looked terrible the last month, but a win against Virginia Tech (who they already beat once this year) in the ACC Championship puts them back in no matter what they do this week against South Carolina.
Teams Dropping Out of the Dance
Cincinnati - A bad loss to Rutgers dropped them down in the standings of one of the weakest conferences in all college football. They probably won't recover, especially after losing their QB.
Nevada - After losing to Louisiana Tech, they have to pray for an upset to get back into consideration.
First Round Matchups
Here is what the first round would look like if it were to start this weekend.
#16 Louisville at #1 LSU
LSU would show everyone once again how good they are and how bad the Big East is.
#9 Oklahoma at #8 Houston
Houston has worked its way up to a home game, but playing Oklahoma could be a tough matchup. They had a better chance of winning last week as a 10 seed. Winner gets LSU in the next round which would eliminate either team.
#13 Northern Illinois at #4 Oklahoma St.
You have to think the Iowa St. game will not happen again for the Cowboys. However, Northern Illinois can sneak up on you in a similar way to what the Cyclones did. Nothing is a guaranteed win for Oklahoma St. right now.
#12 TCU at #5 Virginia Tech
The Hokies look strong, but they haven't really played anybody either. On paper Virginia Tech should win this game, but Boise St. was supposed to beat TCU too. The Horned Frogs are a good enough team to repeat the upset too. Just like March Madness, watch out for the 5/12 matchup.
#14 Louisiana Tech at #3 Arkansas
The Razorbacks should roll in this game as they continue to improve week after week, but never underestimate a team with nothing to lose and everything to win like Louisiana Tech who is always a tough win.
#11 Michigan St. at #6 Stanford
What an interesting matchup! These are two teams that are very physical and don't necessarily play a flashy style of football. I could see this game being a 17-16 or 13-12 final score with the defenses out there with either team coming out on top. Either one of these teams would give Arkansas problems in the next round too.
#15 Arkansas St. at #2 Alabama
Bama should roll fairly easily over Arkansas St., however like I said the Sun Belt is always a tough win.
#10 Oregon at #7 Boise St.
These two teams always seem to be drawn toward each other. The Broncos have the physical presence on defense to give the Ducks trouble, and they would be back on the Smurf Turf after not even being in the bracket last week. This is becoming a classic rivalry.
So there is the latest update. Stay tuned for what next week brings us as the majority of regular seasons end in college football.