Given the college football playoff committee’s rankings—undefeated Florida State is not first, or even second or third—many fans are confused. They may know which match-ups they’d like to see in the playoff but unsure what to root for this weekend to make their wishes come true. That’s where I come in, to save you from accidentally rooting for the wrong team. Because you screaming at your TV does make a difference.
Arizona vs. Oregon
Friday, 9 p.m. ET, FOX
The Ducks have been among college football’s best in recent years—the last season they lost more than two games was 2009—but they’ve only been to one national championship. In a time when other schools are claiming national titles like they’re candy on Halloween, Oregon, which started football in 1894, claims none. My point is, they’ve worked hard their whole life, paid their dues, and now, maybe, it’s Oregon’s turn. Win, and the Ducks are in the playoff, with a 1 or 2 seed and a semifinal game at the Rose Bowl.
Arizona, however, is the freak, sideshow clown that can spoil everything. The Wildcats routed Oregon last year and beat them again this season, 31-24, in Eugene on Oct. 2. While the Oregon brand is far more popular with the kids, Arizona plays a similar style, at least at a basic level: high-scoring, up-tempo offense; force a lot of turnovers on defense. Only one team has the Heisman frontrunner (Oregon’s Marcus Mariota), but if Arizona (a 14-point dog) were to win tonight, they’d be a worthy playoff team. They just wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot. The game, by the way, is being played at the new home of the 49ers, in Santa Clara, the first in a three-year deal to host the conference championship at this neutral site.
You should root for Oregon if…you want as much offense as possible in the playoffs.
You should root for Arizona if…your favorite team is still in the playoff hunt.
Iowa State at TCU
Saturday, noon ET, ABC
Kansas State at Baylor
Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Perhaps you’ve seen the part-hilarious, part-terrifying Big 12 football commercial, in which one coach morphs into another as they tout the awesomeness of their conference, concluding with, “10 teams. 9 games. One. True. Champion.” Yes, the league has a round-robin schedule. One true champion, though? Baylor, TCU, and Kansas State are tied for first. TCU and Baylor have just one loss each and are ranked third and sixth, respectively, by the playoff committee. The conference that splashes a ONE TRUE CHAMPION banner on the front page of its website is reversing field. Should TCU and Baylor, both favorites, win on Saturday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the league would inform the playoff selection committee that it has co-champions. Bowlsby reasons that if he presents dual champions, the committee can select either one—or both!—for the playoff. He said that if neither were selected, and only then, would the league acknowledge Baylor as its champion via its head-to-head win against TCU. Ain’t that convenient!
I still think Kansas State, a seven-point dog, has a great shot at the upset tomorrow, which would clear things up. But if both Baylor and TCU (a 34-point favorite) win, Baylor deserves to go before TCU. The Horned Frogs have better statistics and while both offenses are insanely productive, their defense seems better. But none of that matters when you consider that TCU PLAYED BAYLOR AND BAYLOR WON. Sorry to yell at you, reader, but it’s important. I know the game was on Baylor’s home field. And that TCU led by 21 in the fourth quarter. And that they still only lost by three. But they lost. The whole point of a playoff is to settle things on the field. What is the point if we’re ignoring a head-to-head result? The committee doesn’t see it that way. It’s unlikely a quality win over Kansas State will be enough for Baylor to jump TCU, so barring upsets in other games, the Bears will be left out.
You should root for Baylor and Iowa State if…you like fairness, logic, and this great country we call America.
You should root for Kansas State and TCU if…you thought the only thing the BCS lacked was more computers.
Florida State vs. Georgia Tech
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC
I’m getting the sense that nobody outside of Tallahassee likes this Florida State team. But the support from their fans, students, and police department has guided them to 28 straight victories. While the committee has dropped the ’Noles from 2 to 3 to 4, don’t think they’ll slip any further if they win in Charlotte. It doesn’t matter how ugly the game is. An undefeated team from a power conference is not getting left out the playoffs—not this year, not ever. Right? RIGHT?!
You should root for Florida State if…you want to see if the committee will leave the undefeated Seminoles out of the playoff after they commit five turnovers and win 21-20.
You should root for Georgia Tech if…you’re a college football fan this season.
Alabama vs. Missouri
Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Poor SEC East. For a while, we talked about the dominance of the SEC. But recently, and especially this season, that has been too general a distinction. It’s the SEC West division that is the Jurassic World hybrid dinosaur in football form. The SEC East, to keep with the analogy, is the lawyer on the toilet. Well, East, here’s your chance at redemption (we will ignore the fact that Columbia is west of Tusacaloosa and, for that matter, every SEC West school except Arkansas). Missouri faces big bad ’Bama having won six in a row. Don’t bother looking at those six opponents; they’re SEC teams, ’nuff said. Missouri’s home loss to Indiana and 34-0 loss to Georgia are a distant memory to everyone except the oddsmakers, who have made the Tigers a 14.5-point underdog in Atlanta.
You should root for Alabama if…you want to see Saban vs. the Oregon offense or find out how your fan-brain would react if a Saban-coached team faced this year’s Florida State team.
You should root for Missouri if…you are a masochist and actually enjoy Gary Danielson campaigning for a two-loss Alabama team to get into the playoff.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Big Ten Championship
Saturday, 8:17 p.m. ET, FOX
Conspiracy theorists and reasonable folk alike have suggested that Florida State fell to fourth in the latest rankings just in case Ohio State pulls off the upset Saturday. The thinking is that the committee doesn’t want to get its hands dirty, and while picking between Ohio State and other one-loss teams would be tough, an OSU vs. undefeated FSU debate is cut and dry. If that doesn’t make much sense, don’t blame yourself. The committee is weird.
Without J.T. Barrett, who broke his ankle against Michigan last week, Ohio State has to turn to its third-string quarterback. That would be Cardale Jones, a guy best known for tweeting, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” Jones will get his chance to play FOOTBALL on Saturday night in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes are a four-point underdog, but if they win, and look good on offense, it will make the committee’s decision very difficult.
You should root for Ohio State if…you want more chaos.
You should root for Wisconsin if…you believe that “student” comes first in “student-athlete” for a reason and the integrity of–HAHAHA who are you kidding?