College football: an agent of chaos
December 4, 2014
I love chaos.
In one of my favorite director's best films, "The Dark Knight," Heath Ledger's character delivers a line during a pivotal point when he's trying to persuade a politician to join his team and rise up against the city.
"Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair."
Football has nothing to do with a menacing villain but the college playoff picture has chaos written all over it as we enter the final weekend before the Selection Committee choose the top four teams in the country on Sunday.
Anything can really happen today and Saturday to the current top four with Alabama leading the group followed by Oregon, TCU and Florida State.
The Crimson Tide faces Missouri in the SEC Championship in Georgia, while Oregon takes on Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara tonight. The Wildcats have beaten the Ducks in their last two meetings, including their only loss of this season.
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TCU hosts woeful Iowa State, while No. 6 Baylor can leap frog its Texas rival with a win over No. 9 Kansas State. Florida State, the only undefeated team in the country, takes on Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship.
But it's not just the top four teams that can create chaos if any of them lose, which is a high possibility. No. 5 Ohio State is lurking as it faces No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and Baylor, of course, is within striking distance.
Can you imagine picking the top four teams if even one of the higher-ranked squads falters over the weekend? If Florida State loses, expect the Seminoles to lose a lot of credit especially after squeaking out win after win in a poor conference. But who moves in, Ohio State or Baylor? Expect teams to come close to running up the score because that's what it's going to take to convince the committee you are worthy of belonging in the four-team playoff.
Is it fair? Of course not. But at this point of the season, if Wisconsin or Kansas State ends up on the losing end by at least 20 points when it could have been just 10, it will have to understand it's just business.
I love chaos.
I would love to see the top four teams all falter just to find out who truly belongs in the top echelon of college football. Does Alabama fall hard enough to stay out of the top four or can they salvage the No. 4 seed?
Every week has still felt like sudden death, much like the ways of the BCS, because they still need to be one of the top four teams in the country, as opposed to the top two, in order to play for the national title. But unlike the retired postseason process, the playoff system has the human element more involved and takes into consideration quality of wins and strength of schedule, similar to college basketball's RPI.
Outside of the top four could get as chaotic with double-digit-ranked teams battling for a quality bowl or one of the New Year's bowls. Look at Boise State, now No. 22 in the land and facing a 6-6 team for the MWC Championship. The Broncos need to win and they're in one of the old BCS bowls, like the Fiesta, and it will open the door for Nevada to get in after the conference said that 6-6 Fresno State is guaranteed a bowl game after winning the West Division.
The looming chaos will affect many premier college football programs this weekend as well as the little guys like Nevada. It begins with Arizona and Oregon tonight and capping off with Boise State and Fresno State on Saturday night before the Selection Committee faces its biggest hurdle of the year.
Who doesn't love chaos?
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.