Could Gators still shoehorn their way into CFP by beating Alabama?
The normal craziness we have come to expect from the final weeks of college football hasn’t really transpired yet, save for off-the-field news with the cancellation of dozens of games because of the coronavirus.
Then, LSU-Florida happened.
A shoe hasn’t created this much hoopla since Imelda Marcos, the footwear-loving Filipino dictator who owned more than 1,200 pairs. Gators cornerback Marco Wilson created one of the biggest stirs of the season Saturday night when he ripped off one of the cleats of LSU receiver Kole Taylor after a completion and threw it downfield, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The Tigers used the first down to keep possession and set up Cade York’s 57-yard field for the game-winner. The woeful Tigers’ 37-34 upset of the No. 6 Gators sank Dan Mullen’s club to No. 11 on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot.
Otherwise, North Carolina rose from No. 20 to 15th by crushing Miami, which then fell 10 slots down to No. 18. With those two outcomes, Iowa State (eighth) and Oklahoma (ninth) are in my top 10.
The outcome of the LSU shocker may have thrown a slight wrench into the College Football Playoff plans, but maybe not at all. Sure, the second loss of the year appears to clearly shove Florida out of the CFP picture, unless in a long shot, it rebounds and stuns No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game and miraculously secures a spot. Remember 2014 when Big 12 co-champion TCU dropped from third to sixth in the final CFP standings after winning its last game by more than 50 points.
Even with a loss, the Crimson Tide almost certainly would remain in the Final Four and maybe drop to No. 3 or 4. But Nick Saban's team would stay in the field along with the Clemson-Notre Dame winner and Ohio State, assuming the Buckeyes take care of business and defeat Northwestern in the Big Ten title game.
But how much of a scramble would result if Florida beat Alabama easily (highly, highly improbable), Northwestern upset Ohio State (unlikely), Tennessee downs Texas A&M (doubtful) and USC remains unbeaten in the Pac-12 (possible)?
Would the CFP selection committee really deny spots to the winners of four Power 5 conferences, the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12? I don’t think so.
Historically, the CFP selection committee places a high value on conference championships as a meaningful data point. Could unbeaten Cincinnati sneak in without a win over a Top 25 team?
Personally, I’d root for chaos because I think too often the CFP is a charade that propagates the belief that only the brand names of college football need apply for the playoffs and it could use shaking up.
Here’s my Top 25:
2. Notre Dame
4. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M
8. Iowa State
10. Coastal Carolina
15. North Carolina
22. North Carolina State