Here’s what we think we know about this year’s College Football Playoff: Alabama is in, and so is Ohio State.
But what about the rest? What about Washington (11-2)? If the Huskies beat Colorado (10-2) in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday, are they for sure in the final four?
“I think so,” college football analyst Bruce Feldman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They would have beaten Colorado, which is actually one of Michigan’s better wins. Michigan beat them at home. Yeah, they did have a stumble at home against a pretty talented USC, but I just look at it and go, ‘They do have some good wins in there.’ That dominant win over Stanford earlier in the year, that looks better and better. Stanford is a nine-win team. Again, Michigan has two losses. I think right now Washington has the best chance to be that fourth team in there.”
But if Washington loses?
“Then it gets really interesting,” Feldman said in a pull-up-your-chair voice. “I still don’t think Colorado would make it. I think Michigan would trump them in their case. Michigan obviously wouldn’t be a conference champ – they’re not even a division champ – but they did beat the Buffs by 17 points, and Michigan has some good wins on its resume.”
In fact, if Washington loses to Colorado and if Clemson (11-1) loses to Virginia Tech (9-3), SEC fans need to brace for the inevitable.
“At that point, I think we have a chance – especially if Penn State beats Wisconsin – of having three Big Ten teams make the final four: Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan,” Feldman said. “I say it while admitting that I’m doing the Bedlam game for FOX: I think there’s actually a slightly better chance of getting three Big Ten teams making the final four of having one Big 12 team make it.”
That would be quite the scenario.
Getting back to Clemson, though, Doug Gottlieb wonders if the Tigers are getting a little too much respect. After all, they opened the season with an uninspiring six-point win at Auburn, followed that up with a 30-24 home win against Troy, held on for a 42-36 home win against Louisville, should have lost at home to N.C. State, and, Florida State fans would argue, should have lost in Tallahassee.
One could argue – quite easily, in fact – that of all the playoff-worthy teams, Clemson has the shakiest resume, no?
“I would put them in there,” Feldman said. “We can pooh-pooh winning at Auburn. Auburn is still one of the better teams in a down SEC, and it was on the road. That’s not a bad win. The loss at home was a one-point loss to Pittsburgh. I’ll remind you Pittsburgh has two top-10 wins. They have that win at Clemson and they also beat Penn State. So it’s not like they lost to a really bad team. They just blew out South Carolina, who’s a mediocre SEC team. They have a win at Florida State. In any year, that’s not bad. Florida State’s a nine-win team. And again, winning at home against Louisville, that’s another nine-win team.
“I see the comparisons you’re making with Florida State (in 2014) where it feels like they kind of never quite hit their stride like we thought they would,” Feldman continued. “That’s why I don’t have Deshaun Watson in my Heisman top five. I feel like they had a bunch of turnovers and they found ways to kind of keep it on track, and I keep thinking their best football is ahead of them. I can understand why people would quibble with them, but I still think they will be one of the four teams that make it through, assuming – and this is a big assumption – that they can get past Virginia Tech this weekend.”