The College Football Playoff committee unveiled its penultimate rankings Tuesday night. We’ve got the same top four – Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Iowa – with Michigan State and Ohio State looming at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.
Michigan State plays Iowa in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday in what is essentially a playoff play-in game. Oklahoma, by virtue of playing in the Big 12, does not play a conference championship and is idle.
So, if there’s going to be chaos this weekend, where will it occur?
“Well, it’s going to come down to if North Carolina upsets Clemson or if somehow Florida were to beat Alabama,” CBS Sports college football insider Jon Solomon said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “But it’s real hard to see how Florida wins that game given how they’ve played lately. So most likely it would be the UNC/Clemson game. If Carolina wins, it becomes a lot of chaos. It’s not clear what the committee could do. The Tar Heels are No. 10 now in this latest ranking. They’d be the ACC champions, but they’ve been held back for a while because of two wins over FCS teams, no wins over Top 25 teams, and they have the loss to South Carolina that’s still bogging them down. But if they win, they’d be ACC champions and they’d say, ‘We have the most impressive win of this college football season – beating the committee’s No. 1 team that they’ve had for all these weeks.’”
Even if North Carolina pulls off the upset, however, Solomon isn’t sure that UNC can go all the way from No. 10 to No. 4.
“I don’t know if the Tar Heels can get there,” he said. “They would also have to jump a potential two-loss Pac-12 champion, Stanford, assuming they were to beat USC this week. Stanford would have wins over Notre Dame and USC and would have played a tougher schedule. But I think a big part of it would be how do the Tar Heels look when they play against Clemson? Would it be an impressive win? Would it be a clear win? Do they look like a top-four team with the so-called eye test? I really think that eye test matters to the committee because you’ve got a lot of ex-coaches on that group.”
If North Carolina pulls off the upset, Ohio State and Stanford seem like the two teams most likely to benefit, with Stanford possibly having a slight edge.
“I still kind of think that Stanford, with a win, would jump Ohio State and they could potentially get in that top four,” Solomon said. “They would be a conference champion, they would have probably some stronger wins or at least more of those quality wins than Ohio State. Ohio State is really just banking on the one win over Michigan last week. An impressive win, but it’s just one win and they didn’t even win their division. I think it’s going to be tough for Ohio State to get in.”