Any chance we can get that four-team College Football Playoff format ready one year ahead of time?
At this rate, the final year of the BCS national championship format could leave some pretty good teams on the outside looking in.
Ohio State could go undefeated, for example, and still not make the BCS title game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena. And the Big Ten isn’t the only conference sweating this. The ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 could have undefeated teams get snubbed, too.
I know — it’s still early. The first BCS poll doesn’t come out until Oct. 20, but Jerry Palm, from CBSSports.com, currently has Ohio State at No. 5 in his latest simulation, behind Alabama, Clemson, Stanford and Oregon.
That’s what Ohio State gets for playing a weak nonconference schedule, featuring Buffalo, San Diego State, Cal and Florida A&M.
After surviving tests against Wisconsin and Northwestern, Ohio State should coast through its next five games — against Iowa, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana — before its annual showdown with Michigan.
The Wolverines are undefeated, too, but they look pretty vulnerable. In fact, Buckeyes fans might find themselves cheering for Michigan in coming weeks just so the Wolverines can climb the rankings (from No. 16 in Palm’s simulation) to enhance OSU’s strength of schedule.
If Ohio State and Michigan are both undefeated heading into that Nov. 30 game in Ann Arbor — where the Wolverines are 18-0 under Brady Hoke – that game will resonate.
But by then, the teams ranked ahead of Ohio State will all have chances to sway voters. Here are four games fans can’t wait to see over the next month:
Oct. 19, Florida State (5-0) at Clemson (5-0): With two Heisman candidates at quarterback — Jameis Winston and Tajh Boyd — this one will pretty much decide which team represents the ACC Atlantic Division in the conference title game.
Clemson already has an impressive win over Georgia and still plays South Carolina. Florida State, which is currently ranked No. 6 on Palm’s computer, has November games coming against Miami and Florida.
Oct. 26, Oklahoma (5-0) at Baylor (4-0): Like the Big Ten, the Big 12 is lagging behind the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 in various conference power ratings. But Oklahoma and Baylor are still intriguing.
This game will be a Thursday night special, featuring Oklahoma’s stingy defense against a Baylor team that is averaging 779.5 yards and 70.5 points per game. Those stats aren’t misprints.
Nov. 7, Oregon (5-0) at Stanford (5-0): Another Thursday night gem, this one likely will decide the Pac-12 North Division.
Stanford already is battle tested, coming off a thrilling win over Washington last Saturday. Oregon hasn’t played an FBS team with a winning record, but it faces Washington and UCLA before visiting Palo Alto.
Nov. 9, LSU (5-1) at Alabama (5-0): An LSU win would throw the SEC West into chaos and would benefit Texas A&M, which lost to Alabama on Sept. 14. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies travel to Baton Rouge on Nov. 23.
Seeking its third consecutive national title, Alabama hopes to run the table. And by the end, the SEC could have a one-loss team competing for a BCS title game berth. Georgia, for example, would have a strong case considering its one loss was by three points at Clemson on Aug. 31.
Teams from other conferences, such as Louisville, Fresno State and Northern Illinois have legitimate chances at finishing undefeated, too. So that four-team College Football Playoff can’t come soon enough. Actually, an eight-team bracket might help.