The only thing better than eating leftover turkey and apple pie the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving is the usual slate of exciting college football rivalry games.
This year was no different.
The headliner was the incredible latest installment of “The Game,” which No. 2-ranked Ohio State won 30-27 in double overtime over No. 3 Michigan after overcoming a double-digit deficit in the second half. But, while it was thrilling to watch, it did leave the College Football Playoff picture in a bit of a mess.
Michigan probably can kiss its Playoff hopes goodbye with two losses, one of which came to Iowa. But, like the Wolverines, the Buckeyes won’t have one last chance to impress the committee on championship Saturday, as their win and No. 7 Penn State’s victory over Michigan State clinched a Big Ten title game berth for the Nittany Lions.
Oh, and don’t forget about No. 6 Wisconsin, which will be on the other sideline in the Big Ten title game. The bottom line is there almost definitely will be at least one Big Ten team in the College Football Playoff, although Penn State and Wisconsin both have two losses.
But will the committee put in the Big Ten champion ahead of Ohio State? We’ll have to wait and see, but one of its criteria is conference championships, which Ohio State won’t have. The Buckeyes do own a win over the Badgers, but the same can’t be said when it comes to the Nittany Lions.
The Big Ten very well could be the first conference to have more than one team in the College Football Playoff. But that also will depend on how the other championship games go.
The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide are virtual locks for the Playoff after their Iron Bowl thumping of No. 13 Auburn — well, as long as they take care of the offensively challenged No. 15 Florida Gators in the SEC title game, of course. The same goes for No. 4 Clemson, which crushed rival South Carolina in the Palmetto Bowl. The only team between the Tigers and the Playoff now is Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Then there is that coveted final spot. No. 5 Washington likely will earn it if the Huskies can beat No. 9 Colorado in the Pac-12 championship following their Friday Apple Cup victory over No. 23 Washington State. But the Buffaloes also have an outside chance if they can win and some chaos happens ahead of them.
Believe it or not, if one of the favorites is upset in the championship games, the Big 12 still has a shot, with the winner of No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State in what essentially is the conference championship game next weekend.
That’s what makes college football so great — beautiful, maddening chaos.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports Images