The College Football Playoff selection committee is set up to have a pretty easy championship weekend.
Clemson is in with a win.
Alabama is in with a win.
The winner of the Big Ten championship game between Iowa and Michigan State gets in.
And Oklahoma pretty much sealed up its spot on Saturday night with a 58-23 win at Oklahoma State in its finale.
“You just figure if you’re third and you go to a championship game away from home to the No. 9 team in the country and win by 30-some points, you would only move up, but you sure wouldn’t move back,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said.
Sure won’t, Bob.
Barring surprises in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game or the Southeastern Conference title game next Saturday, Jeff Long’s crew should be able to get a decent night’s sleep before revealing the field.
The committee might want to send Stanford a thank you note. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, it probably won’t come with an invitation to the final four.
The Cardinal beat Notre Dame 38-36 on a last-second field goal, handing the Fighting Irish (10-2, No. 6 CFP) their second loss of the season. Notre Dame at 11-1 probably would have forced the committee to at least reconsider whether the Fighting Irish belonged in over maybe the Big 12 champion Sooners or the Big Ten champion.
Not a problem anymore.
Stanford heads to the Pac-12 championship game against USC, hoping for an upset in the ACC or SEC.
Clemson has to get through North Carolina, which has won 11 straight since an opening loss to South Carolina. The Tar Heels (11-1, No. 14 CFP) haven’t gotten much love from the committee without marquee victories on their resume and two FCS wins. Beating Clemson (12-0, No. 1 CFP) would be about as big as it gets, but North Carolina has a long way to jump.
Maybe Florida can throw the committee a curve? The Gators (10-2, No. 12 CFP) trudge into the SEC championship game against Alabama (11-1, No. 2 CFP), coming off a 27-2 loss to Florida State. A Florida victory next week would likely leave the SEC out of the playoff. More likely though, the SEC championship will be an opportunity for Crimson Tide tailback Derrick Henry to wrap up the Heisman after he went for 271 yards on a school-record 46 carries in a victory against Auburn on Saturday.
Who else is hoping for chaos? Hello, Ohio State (11-1, No. 8 CFP).
The Buckeyes were a week too late with their best performance of the season, pounding Michigan 42-13 behind Ezekiel Elliott, who got plenty of touches and ran all over the Wolverines.
Ohio State might have to settle for the Rose Bowl as a pretty cool consolation prize.