Pac 12 or Big 12? By My Count The Final Playoff Spot Could Spark Huge Debate

Chris Dufresne

By my count the final spot in this year’s four-team playoff is setting up to be a bar-fight argument over the Pac 12 and Big 12 champions.

Thank you, Alabama, for clearing some shelf space at No. 5. What now? The top four in last week’s CFB rankings made huge statement wins over Thanksgiving weekend: Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Georgia defeated Michigan, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Georgia Tech by the combined score of 196-44. So much for competitive balance. Quite simply, having a four-team playoff picked by 13 committee members only encourages schools to run up scores to impress the judges…Happy now?

Ohio State moved to No.1 last week because the committee said it was a more “complete” team than LSU. That inspired the Tigers to dominate both sides of the ball in a 50-7 win over money-pit Texas A&M.

The easy part: Ohio State, LSU and Clemson win their conference title games next week against Wisconsin, Georgia and Virginia.

That will leave one playoff spot open for either the Pac 12 champion, if it’s Utah, or the Big 12 winner of Oklahoma versus Baylor.

One would assume Utah will move to No. 5 this week, followed by Oklahoma at No. 6. Baylor jumped five spots last week to No. 9.

The Utes, Sooners and Bears did everything that could be asked on Saturday. Utah continued its dominant streak with a 45-15 win over Colorado in Salt Lake City. The Utes, sort of against their grain, were lobbing touchdown passes into the fourth quarter just to make the committee notice it plays more than defense.

Oklahoma entered Saturday’s “Bedlam” game versus Oklahoma State allowing 25.5 points per game (No. 54 nationally). The committee basically came out and said Oklahoma needed to clean up its defensive act, and the Sooners did just that with a 34-16 win in Stillwater. Oklahoma only gave up one more point than Utah allowed.

And Baylor did its job with a 61-6 win at Kansas.

The Pac 12/Big 12 debate could be very contentious with great arguments for Utah, if it beats Oregon, or the Oklahoma/Baylor winner.

The case for Utah is it has looked thoroughly dominant since that Friday night loss at USC. The case against the Utes is they are STILL looking for a signature win. Oklahoma and Baylor have better victories, for sure, but have also looked shaky at times. Baylor’s non-conference schedule of Stephen F. Austin, UTSA and Rice is the opposite of ambitious.

There are also a couple of whack-job scenarios out there: What happens if two-loss Wisconsin beats No. 1 Ohio State next week and Georgia upends LSU?

You can make a case all FOUR teams being deserving of spots, but you could also not leave 13-0 Clemson out of this scenario. That means Wisconsin, as Big Ten champion, would presumably get left out after beating Ohio State.

Remember when winning conference champions meant something? Alabama under Nick Saban has won two national titles without winning the SEC and would have been strongly considered again before losing to Auburn on Saturday.

Let's get this straight: Ohio State can LOSE the Big Ten title and still make the playoff, while LSU can lose the SEC title game next week and still get in.

Wisconsin AND Utah could win the Big Ten and Pac 12 and get left out...That just doesn't sound right...

By my count Alabama’s miracle tap-dance through the 2019 season is finally over after Saturday’s 48-45 loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide ended the season without a single win over a currently ranked opponent, yet somehow stayed alive in the playoff chase until the final weekend. Alabama went 0-2 against the four other ranked SEC schools but no one ever dared to count the Tide out. Well, now they’re out, and not even CBS analyst Gary Danielson could find a way to extend Alabama’s streak of appearing in every playoff ever contested since 2014. The main takeaway should not be the 30-yard field goal attempt, by Joseph Bulovas, that clanked off the left upright with two minutes to go. The takeaway should be Saban’s team getting caught with 12-men on the field setting up on the punt return team, which sealed the Iron Bowl victory for Auburn.

Saban got snookered by Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn in the critical moment...on punt return coverage! Auburn lined up as though they were going for it on fourth and short. What Auburn actually did was put its punter out at wide receiver. When the punter moved into punt formation Alabama got caught with 12 men on the field as it rushed its returner onto the field. Saban didn't think this was "fair" but it sure did work. The penalty allowed Auburn to run out the clock on another classic Iron Bowl game.

By my count the announcers for playoff contenders always promote the case for the team they are covering….

By my count USC has finally been eliminated from the Pac 12 South Division so new athletic director Mike Bohn can go ahead and make a decision on Clay Helton.


Chris Dufresne