By Flint Wheeler
Washington’s dominating 45-17 win over Washington State in the Apple Cup moved the Pac-12 one step closer to the College Football Playoff. The Huskies will face either Colorado or USC next week in the conference championship game. If Washington wins that, it’ll be extremely difficult to keep them out of the final four.
The Big Ten (Penn State-Wisconsin), SEC (Alabama-Florida), ACC (Clemson-Virginia Tech) and Pac-12 (Colorado-Washington) will play conference title games next week while the Big 12 crown will be decided in Bedlam between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
Ohio State, No. 2 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, is in the clubhouse awaiting its fate while the rest of the Top 10 (minus Michigan) will have a shot to improve or solidify its case. The Buckeyes survived a wild one at home against Michigan on Saturday.
What exactly are these rankings you ask?
AP Poll: A team receives 25 points for each first place vote, 24 for second place and so on through to the 25th team, which receives one point. The AP Poll has been around since 1936, and a panel of 61 voters makes up the results.
Coaches Poll: A panel, chosen at random, of FBS coaches vote in the Amway Coaches poll. Like the AP Poll, each voter submits a Top 25 with a first-place vote worth 25 points, second place 24, and so on down to one point for 25th.
The S&P+ Ratings — developed by Bill Connelly of SB Nation and Football Outsiders — are an analytical system “derived from the play-by-play and drive data of all 800+ of a season’s FBS college football games.” It considers efficiency, explosiveness, field position, turnovers and finishing drives as the most important factors for a football team. It’s less concerned with wins and losses than any of the other rankings.
ESPN FPI: FPI, maintained by ESPN, is a predictive model that projects a team’s future success based on its past performance. Per ESPN, “FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule.”
Furthermore, No. 1 Alabama took down Auburn in the Iron Bowl, pretty much guaranteeing the Tide a spot in the College Football Playoff even if they somehow lose to Florida, which went 0 for 12 on third down in a 31-13 loss to Florida State, next week.
LSU removed Ed Orgeron’s interim tag, making him the team’s head coach. The program reportedly refused to pay $6 million per year for Tom Herman, who jumped from Houston to Texas on Saturday. Les Miles had some nice things to say about Orgeron getting the job. Oh, and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was linked to the now-vacant Houston post.
No. 2 Ohio State beat No. 3 Michigan, 30-27 in double overtime. It will probably go down as the most exciting game of the college football regular season and it had everything — a fight, missed field goals, a controversial finish and so much more. It wasn’t all that well-played, but it will certainly be memorable.
Curtis Samuel made an absurd play — running about 100 yards for an 8-yard gain — that could have cost Ohio State the game, but instead setup J.T. Barrett’s fourth-down run that rendered Samuel’s run so forgettable. Ohio State fans stormed the field, Jabrill Peppers pushed one of them and Jim Harbaugh ripped the refs after the loss.
Will Ohio State make the College Football Playoff? I think so, but we’ll find out in eight days. It’s far from a sure thing. No. 7 Penn State and No. 6 Wisconsin meet in the Big Ten Championship Game and the winner could reach the top 4, too.
Buckle up – It’ll be a wild ride to the finish.