With Little Playoff Rankings Movement Expected, It's Worth Considering a Truly Crazy Scenario

The third College Football Playoff rankings of 2018 will keep Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan in the playoff picture.
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Hello and welcome to SI's weekly series, "What Will We Talk About When Nothing Changes Atop the Playoff Rankings?" We kid (sort of). In all seriousness, the top of the College Football Playoff rankings will not change this week. Teams No. 1 through 10 won over the weekend—some more convincingly than others. There will be some shuffling beyond that, however, with Nos. 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21 and 24 losing their Week 11 games.

Regardless, we have a few things worth considering ahead of Tuesday night's rankings reveal on ESPN, even if they are of the less consequential (or, highly unlikely) variety.


Sure, go ahead and laugh. Much like when we concocted a disaster scenario that ended with Boston College as the ACC’s champion and playoff representative (apologies for the jinx, BC), today we're ready to cook up a bit of Orange stew (sorry, not sorry).

Syracuse–Notre Dame is easily the best matchup of Week 12 and the only game this week that pits two top-15 squads against each other. A Cuse win at Yankee Stadium would throw a huge wrench into the playoff proceedings. "Even if the upset happens, how on earth do you get a two-loss Syracuse team that can't even win its division into the playoff?" With a little imagination, that's how. Let's lay out the dominoes that need to fall.

• Alabama and Clemson need to keep steamrolling through their schedules to stay undefeated.

• After losing to Syracuse this week, Notre Dame must lose to a truly horrible USC team to end the season.

• Michigan loses to Indiana and Ohio State. The Buckeyes win the Big Ten East, only to lose to Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game.

• Georgia and LSU lose to Georgia Tech and Texas A&M, respectively, in their regular-season finales. (Otherwise, Syracuse would easily lose a debate over what two-loss non-conference champ is more playoff-worthy.)

• The Pac-12 champion is either Washington or whatever team emerges from the chaos in the South division.

• UCF loses one of its remaining games.

The resulting final four would likely be:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Big 12 champion Oklahoma or West Virginia
4. Syracuse

Such a ridiculous end to the season is very much of the "So you're telling me there's a chance?" variety, but it's already really cold in Central New York so let's give fans up there a little more to root for.

LSU Respect Watch

As we pointed out last week, the committee feels quite strongly about LSU. At two losses, the Tigers remain ahead of one-loss Power 5 teams Washington State, West Virginia and Ohio State. Will that change this week?

No. 7 LSU beat a horrible Arkansas team on the road in a game that was probably never in doubt but shouldn't have finished with that close of a score. No. 8 Washington State thumped a self-destructing Colorado squad in Boulder. No. 9 WVU tore TCU to shreds at home. No. 10 Ohio State never trailed in its rather unconvincing win over Michigan State in East Lansing. None of those results truly jump out at us, so keeping these teams where they currently are would seem likely. However, if the committee really wants to spice things up a bit during a rather ho-hum week, you could debate the quality of these wins and shuffle the tail end of the top 10 to get either Ohio State or Washington State up to the seventh spot.

The Top 25 Will Get Some New Blood

A number of previously unranked teams that won their Week 11 games will probably hear their names called Tuesday night. Boise State, Utah and Cincinnati are the most likely to enter the rankings. Four-loss Big Ten West champion Northwestern also has a shot at entering the Top 25.