Chaos usually shows its face whenever college football arrives. Since Nick Saban became the coach Alabama has been the outlier to that chaos. As for the rest of the college football universe, a routine punt turns into a blocked punt and the reactions are forever solidified into gif history.
This season, a few non-traditional powerhouses emerged thanks in part to relatively easy scheduling. Heisman frontrunner, Lamar Jackson, and the Louisville Cardinals emerged on the scene with a thrashing of the then ranked Florida State team. The Cardinals have decimated their opponents for most of the season and only have Houston to look forward to. Louisville’s only loss thus far was the result of a boneheaded decision by receiver James Quick to run out of bounds on fourth-down when he had room to make the crucial first down.
The Washington Huskies balanced attack helped them see their best start since the 2000 season when they finished 11-1. Up until last night, Washington was thoroughly beating their opponents. On Saturday night, a young USC team realized its potential and completely dominated the Huskies; holding them to only 17 total rushing yards. This loss does not exclude the Huskies from playoff consideration, but their chances took a crucial hit.
Two teams ahead of Washington lost last night. Clemson gave up 43-points and a personal record performance by Pitt’s quarterback Nathan Peterman. While Peterman set personal bests in throwing yards and touchdowns, Desean Watson too set an ACC record with his 580 passing yards. Unfortunately, he also threw three interceptions, which ended up hurting Clemson in the end. (To be fair Clemson had been narrowly escaping all season).
And then there is Michigan. Up until this point, they ran through their schedule, but met their match in an Iowa Hawkeyes team. A team that lost to North Dakota State and Northwestern. Michigan was held to 4.0 yards per pass and 2.8 yards per rush. Michigan’s offense still needs elite athletes that will be playing on Sundays and it showed in Iowa City.
This is the first time No. 2, 3 and 4 lost on the same day since 1985. Iowa beat Michigan that year (Jon Harbaugh was the QB of Michigan at the time). To add on to the losses of 3 of the top 4 teams, Auburn and Texas A&M were handed conference losses as well.
Alabama and Ohio State are the only two clear frontrunners at this point in the season, but even that presents some problems. Despite Ohio State’s hot streak, they could very well fail to make the Big-10 championship game thanks to Michigan’s loss. Ohio State wins “The Game” and Penn State will represent their division due to a tiebreaker. The being left out of the playoffs is an emerging possibility.
Now the selection committee is left with a bevy of one-loss and two-loss teams with no clear leader amongst the pack. A loss currently has not eliminated any of these teams from the discussion; as we have never had more than one undefeated team heading into the playoffs. It will not be surprising if one of the teams that lost last night still makes the College Football Playoffs.