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By Andy Staples
October 21, 2015

You were promised answers. Those answers have not arrived.

This college football season began with so many uncertainties.

Who is Ohio State's starting quarterback?

Who besides the Buckeyes will make the College Football Playoff?

Baylor looks excellent, but what will happen when the Bears play a challenging opponent?

Will UCLA or USC rule the Pac-12 South, and can either stop Oregon?

Will Alabama or Auburn rule the SEC West?

Will Florida's Jim McElwain or Michigan's Jim Harbaugh have the more frustrating first season after taking over name-brand programs that fell into disrepair?

O.K., so some of those unknowns have been at least partially resolved. (Sorry, Auburn and USC.) But at its halfway point, the 2015 season has produced far more questions than answers.

Who is Ohio State's starting quarterback (not this week, but in general)?

Can the Buckeyes make the College Football Playoff?

Baylor looks excellent, but what will happen when the Bears play a challenging opponent?

Can anyone in the Pac-12 stop Utah?

Will anyone hold LSU tailback Leonard Fournette to less than five yards a carry?

Alabama lost at home to Ole Miss—which then lost by four touchdowns at Florida and lost at Memphis—but are the Crimson Tide still the favorites to win the SEC?

Will McElwain or Harbaugh win the national coach of the year award after engineering turnarounds a year or two ahead of schedule?

And, most important …

Just who, exactly, is great this year?

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That final question seems the most vexing. By this point in most years, it has been possible to identify two or three elite teams that tower over the rest. That simply hasn't happened this season. Defending national champion Ohio State was supposed to be an easy choice for that group, but the Buckeyes have looked downright mortal at times despite bringing back most of the key players from a team that won the title. Coach Urban Meyer has vacillated on his quarterback choice. First it was Cardale Jones. Next it was Jones as the starter and J.T. Barrett as the leader in the red zone. As of Tuesday, Meyer has announced that Barrett will start on Saturday at Rutgers.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a wealth of potential title contenders, but most people crave an established order. A season like this feels all wrong to these people because there is no natural order to declare what result is an upset and what result is chalk. Of course, there is a minority that prefers chaos. For this group, this season has been glorious. Michigan State went from a title contender to the second-best program in its state (according to Las Vegas) to an unbelievable-if-you-didn't-see-it winner against a Michigan team that rose to respectability sooner than expected and looks capable of challenging, if not outright beating, Ohio State on Nov. 28. Stanford looked inept in its season opener at Northwestern and now looks like a national title contender. Oklahoma State has a guardian angel who may or may not wear stripes.

These lovers of chaos are comfortable with parity. Their favorite year was 2007, when an LSU team that had already lost to Kentucky could lose to Arkansas and then nine days later secure a berth in the BCS title game—which it subsequently would win. They understand that this season's predicament is exactly what the schools wanted in '92 when they passed the NCAA rule that capped the number of football scholarships at 85. The same five or six schools couldn't hoard the majority of the talent. The drawback? If the rule actually worked as intended, every team would probably have at least one glaring flaw, and likely several.

The chaos-lovers will revel in these next seven weeks because they know anything can happen. They have no compulsion to define things by how they change the hierarchy. For them, a mishandled punt snap-turned-touchdown involving two teams that are neither their favorite nor their favorite's rival is just a mishandled punt snap-turned-touchdown. It's an excuse to jump off the chair, grab the nearest fellow human and bellow, "Did you see that?" It doesn't have to hold any deeper meaning.

For everyone else, these next seven weeks could be maddening. The College Football Playoff selection committee begins ranking teams in November for two reasons. One, conference commissioners wanted to avoid producing a ranking too early and allowing last season's results and reputation to influence this year's ranking. And two, they wanted to give teams some time to establish a pecking order based on this season's results. The first ranking will debut in two weeks, and it seems unlikely that any sort of clear pecking order will be established. The committee's rankings could swing wildly those first few weeks because the teams at the top seem so lumped together that true clarity might require another 30 weeks of games.

Our advice? Enjoy the chaos. Don't worry about what each individual result means to the national title chase, because that result's meaning could get wiped away by a game later in the same day. No one knows what will happen. Every team is flawed, and that means no one is unbeatable. This level of parity all but guarantees a heart-stopping final few weeks. When that happens, we all win.

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