Cavalcade Part 2: The Ten Playoff Contenders

Cavalcade Part 2: The Ten Playoff Contenders. What has to happen for each of the top playoff contenders to get in.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 11, Part 2

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November 11th
- Part 1 Return Of The Big Guys 

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten things I'm grouchy about this week ...

While there’s still a shot for Georgia to get in with two losses – if it goes 11-2 with an SEC championship – and Marshall is going to go 12-0 while Colorado State will finish with one loss, there are only ten undefeated or one-loss teams among the Power 5 conferences. Here’s what each team needs, and here’s what’s going to happen.

10. Duke (8-1)
Remaining Games: Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest
How This Happens: It’s not like Duke is blowing anyone’s doors off, but after losing to Miami 22-10, it managed to survive the run of four road games in five dates after last week’s win over Syracuse. Now comes the reward with three straight home games with a shot to take the Coastal and go 11-1. The previous 12 games won’t matter if the Blue Devils beat an undefeated Florida State – put them in the four if they win out. Yes, they control their own destiny.
What’s Going To Happen: There’s no way the Blue Devils can really go 11-1, can they? Chances are they’ll lose a heartbreaker to Virginia Tech or a shootout to North Carolina, and while it might be delicious fun to think about what might happen in an ACC championship rematch with Florida State, it’s not going to happen.

9. Nebraska (8-1)

Remaining Games: at Wisconsin, Minnesota, at Iowa
How This Happens: The Huskers roll up the rankings with an impressive performance against the Badgers, and do even more with solid wins over bowl bound Minnesota and Iowa teams. The one loss to Michigan State doesn’t look that bad – fighting back to lose 27-22 in East Lansing – and with a win over Ohio State in the Big Ten championship, that should be enough to move into the top four.
What’s Going To Happen: A red hot Badger team will slow down Ameer Abdullah and come up with the big win at home to ruin the Big Red dream.

8. Ohio State (8-1)

Remaining Games: at Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan
How This Happens: Nebraska rocks and rolls with an impressive win over Wisconsin – or Wisconsin rocks and rolls with an impressive win over Nebraska – making the Big Ten championship win a chip that TCU and/or Baylor won’t have. Blowing out Minnesota would be nice – it’ll look great for the side-by-side comparison to the Horned Frogs, who beat the Gophers 30-7 – and obliterating Indiana and Michigan are musts. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if TCU and Baylor both lost, or if there’s a two-loss ACC or Pac-12 champion.
What’s Going To Happen: The Buckeyes will get to 12-1, but they’ll have problems against Minnesota or Michigan, taking a bit of the shine off the overall record. They’ll get into the CFP four – mainly because the committee will downgrade Baylor because of its non-conference slate - but it would help if there weren’t four other one-loss or better Power 5 conference champions – the Virginia Tech loss is going to be an anchor no matter how it’s spun.

7. Arizona State (8-1)

Remaining Games: at Oregon State, Washington State, at Arizona
How This Happens: The Sun Devils control their own destiny. With wins over USC, Utah and Notre Dame, and if it happens, a win over Arizona on the road, everything would be set up perfectly for a date with Oregon. Win that, and it’s into the playoff.
What’s Going To Happen: Arizona is going to screw everything up. Not only did the Wildcats beat Oregon, but it’s going to take down ASU, too, giving UCLA a second chance at the Ducks in the Pac-12 championship after losing 17-7 in Eugene.

6. Baylor (8-1)

Remaining Games: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State
How This Happens: The Bears not only win their final three games, but they obliterate everything in their path. The head-to-head win over TCU will come more into play, and the loss to West Virginia isn’t going to seem that bad in comparison. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if TCU loses along the way, or looks lousy in its final three games. It would also be a huge help if the Big Ten or Pac-12 champion has two losses.
What’s Going To Happen: The Bears are going to roll through final three games and look tremendous doing it. However, just like it would’ve happened had there been a playoff last year, they’ll be left out. They’ll be punished by a non-conference schedule of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo – it’ll be viewed like a loss.

5. TCU (8-1)

Remaining Games: at Kansas, at Texas, Iowa State
How This Happens: TCU keeps on rolling. The loss to Baylor is viewed as a wild quirk that could’ve gone either way in the final moments, while the win over Minnesota looks better and better over the final weeks. The Kansas State win gave the Horned Frogs street cred, and the committee members like the impressive Thanksgiving Day win over Texas.
What’s Going To Happen: Texas pulls off an amazing performance at home and ruins the run. The defense rises up, and for one of the only times all year, the Horned Frog offense pays for making a slew of mistakes.

4. Alabama (8-1)

Remaining Games: Mississippi State, Western Carolina, Auburn
How This Happens: Alabama wins its final four games, including the SEC championship. That’s all it needs to do, even though it’s going to be a struggle and fight to get through the showdown dates with MSU and Auburn.
What’s Going To Happen: Mississippi State turns out to be better than everyone thinks. The supposedly impenetrable Tide D gives up a key late touchdown drive to the Bulldogs, and the O makes too many mistakes. The LSU-like rally won’t work this time around.

3. Oregon (9-1)

Remaining Games: Colorado, at Oregon State
How This Happens: The Ducks hit both two-foot putts, scoring over 100 points in the two wins over Colorado and Oregon State, and they get through the Pac-12 championship to go 12-1 and off to the Rose Bowl.
What’s Going To Happen: They have no problems with Colorado but are threatened for a bit by Oregon State before pulling away in the second half. They roll through the Pac-12 championship as Marcus Mariota comes up with a Heisman-sealing performance before making preparations for Pasadena.

2. Florida State (9-0)

Remaining Games: at Miami, Boston College, Florida
How This Happens: The Seminoles look the part and come up with a 2013-like 59-0 win over a Miami or Florida, or they just win their final three games and handle the ACC Coastal champ – most likely, Duke - without a problem. Style points don’t count, though – 13-0 is all that matters.
What’s Going To Happen: Either Miami or Florida will come up with a big upset, but the Noles won’t lose to both teams. They’ll still go 12-1 with a win over Duke in the ACC championship and get into the playoff, but as a No. 3 seed

1. Mississippi State (9-0)

Remaining Games: at Alabama, Vanderbilt, at Ole Miss
How This Happens: The Bulldogs come up with the big win over Alabama, and then beat Vanderbilt to win the SEC West title – the Egg Bowl vs. Ole Miss won’t matter if the Bulldogs take care of business over the next two weeks.
What’s Going To Happen: Cowbell gets by Bama in a classic and destroys Vanderbilt. Ole Miss might get the win at home, but it won’t matter. Dak Prescott leads the way to a decisive win in the SEC championship to earn the No. 1 seed and the Sugar Bowl vs. Ohio State.

"If it were me, I'd bet everything. But that's me. I'm an aggressive gambler. Mr. Vegas. Come on. Go for it. Go for it. Yes, yes, there we go. I'm in." … Still rolling against the spread. No, this bubble isn't bursting .. So Far: SU 38-17, ATS 33-21-1

1) East Carolina -2 over Cincinnati
2) Minnesota +12 over Ohio State (Ohio State straight up)
3) Iowa -5.5 over Illinois
4) LSU +2.5 over Arkansas
5) Texas A&M -5.5 over Missouri

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Kaelin Clay’s drop … Underrated: Kaelin Clay: Five catches for 152 yards, and seven kickoff returns for 179 yards
2) Overrated: Minnesota’s loss to Illinois … Underrated: Minnesota 51, Iowa 14
3) Overrated: Assuming Georgia was fine without Todd Gurley ... Underrated: The 1-2 rushing punch of Gurley and Chubb
4) Overrated: USC’s rushing game since Reggie Bush & Lendale White ... Underrated: Javorius Allen’s sixth-straight 100-yard game
5) Overrated: UCLA’s 4-2 start ... Underrated: UCLA’s 4-0 run since losing to Oregon

Sorry if this column sucked, I wasn’t my fault … after a colossal disaster in the first half, it was getting stronger was just about to win, but I fumbled it away – along with, possibly, the SEC West title – in twice in the final three minutes.      

November 11th

- Part 1 Return Of The Big Guys 

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