Pray For Chaos

A ranking of 11 College Football Playoff Scenarios from most tired to most WIRED

November 20, 2019
Justin Fields
Jamie Sabau

Right around this time last year, we ranked 11 possible College Football Playoff scenarios from "yawn" to "I just drank 18 Red Bulls and am ready to attempt to fly." It was fun. It was confusing. It was a somewhat useless exercise given the fact that Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame were locks, and the only real mystery was who would get the fourth spot between Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

This year feels eerily similar if you sub out Alabama with LSU and Notre Dame with Ohio State, and once again the fourth spot is the only mystery at the moment. If you thought that was going to stop me from going full "A Beautiful Mind" on your asses again, you thought wrong.

All we can do, as is tradition, is pray for chaos. Without further ado, here's our ranking, from most tired to most WIRED.

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No. 11

(1) LSU vs. (4) Alabama

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

What has to happen

All four teams win out, committee puts Alabama in over one-loss Pac 12 champion and one-loss Big 12 champion.

Chances?

I regret to inform you that I think the chances of this are not only good, but I think this is what's going to happen. The only way it doesn't is if Georgia beats LSU, in which case you'll still get two SEC teams in, because LSU is a lock even with a loss to Georgia as long as the Tigers don't lose to Texas A&M or Arkansas (HA HA HA, THAT'S A FAKE LAUGH BY THE WAY). But if LSU beats Georgia, Georgia is out, and Alabama would be sitting there at the 5 spot coming off a win at Auburn. The committee is already telling you it thinks one-loss 'Bama is better than one-loss Oregon, and then the Tide would have a road win over Auburn, who beat Oregon on a neutral field. Ipso, facto, Alabama > Oregon.

As for Ohio State and Clemson, yeah, they're winning out. The Buckeyes are an 18-point favorite against Penn State, and I'd expect them to be a double-digit road favorite against the team up North the following week. Then they'll probably win 55-0 in the Big Ten Championship like they always do. Clemson might win the rest of its games by 30 each.

Excitement level?

Please, college football gods, anything but this. It's not that these wouldn't be great games, it's just that we've seen them before. We just had Ohio State vs. Clemson in 2016, and we get LSU vs. Alabama every year. Add in the fact that Tua Tagovailoa won't be playing and that matchup loses some serious juice. This scenario also sets up the dreaded Clemson vs. Alabama, part 1 billion matchup. The regular college football fan would completely tune it out. All of that said, LSU vs. Ohio State is one I think everybody would sign for right now.

No. 10

(1) Ohio State vs. (4) LSU

(2) Clemson vs. (3) Georgia

What has to happen

Ohio State, Clemson win out, Georgia wins out including SEC Championship victory over LSU. LSU gets the No. 4 spot coming off a loss.

Chances?

This scenario I give the second-best chance of happening to our No. 11 scenario. The Georgia defense is very good, and it could be the only one that could at least slow down LSU's offensive attack. LSU's defense stinks, so Georgia's offense, which has looked pedestrian at times this season, could keep up. The only question is, can Georgia avoid choking in the final minutes?

Excitement level?

Meh. This would keep Alabama out, which is good, but I'm guessing people would be pissed over two one-loss SEC teams being in, and one of them coming off said loss. But the committee would have no choice. LSU's resume is so good that the only thing that could keep them out is a slip-up in one of their last two games, which is highly unlikely. You can't say these wouldn't be great matchups though. Ohio State vs. LSU seems like the dream national title game right now, and we'd get it guaranteed in this scenario. Clemson vs. Georgia is always an electric matchup. This does set up the SEC vs. SEC title game, which I'm sure people would be THRILLED with.

No. 9

(1) Ohio State vs. (4) Alabama

(2) LSU vs. (3) Clemson

What has to happen

Ohio State wins out in dominant fashion, LSU squeaks past Georgia. Committee bumps up the Buckeyes. Alabama gets in over one-loss Pac 12 and Big 12 champs.

Chances?

The way Ohio State has looked this season, this scenario doesn't seem too outlandish. Blowout wins over Penn State and Michigan, plus a Big Ten Championship, would absolutely be deserving of the No. 1 seed, provided LSU doesn't win by 100 in the rest of its games.

Excitement level?

I'm fully onboard the "get Alabama OUT" hate train, but I can't lie, Ohio State-Alabama is as LIT as it gets. And LSU-Clemson might be even more must-watch. This is not the most chaotic scenario, but from a television ratings standpoint and a "clear my schedule to watch these two games" standpoint, you can't say this playoff wouldn't be awesome.

No. 8

(1) LSU vs. (4) Oregon

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

What has to happen

Everybody wins out, committee comes to its senses and puts the Pac 12 champion in over one-loss, non-SEC champion Alabama.

Chances?

Chances of the committee coming to its senses? They're not good, my friends.

Excitement level?

Now we're getting somewhere. Joe Burrow vs. Justin Herbert? Hell yes. I know we said we've already seen Ohio State vs. Clemson earlier, but this time it would actually be competitive. Realistically, this is about as spicy as the playoff could get.

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No. 7

(1) LSU vs. (4) Utah

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

What has to happen

Everything I said in No. 8 except Utah beats Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship.

Chances?

Honestly, I think the committee is so dumb that they probably think Utah is still in the Mountain West. The Pac 12's only chance is Oregon, and an Oregon win still might not be enough to get the committee to lose Alabama's number.

Excitement level?

You can't go wrong with LSU vs. whichever team wins the Pac 12. If it's Utah, that'd be two completely new faces in the College Football Playoff. Man, it absolutely sucks that Oregon was stunned by Auburn and Utah fumbled away the USC game. If these two teams were undefeated, it would literally be impossible to leave whichever won the Pac 12 title game out. Instead, one of them has to jump Alabama.

No. 6

(1) Ohio State vs. (4) Oregon

(2) LSU vs. (3) Clemson

What has to happen

Everything I said in scenario No. 9 except Oregon gets the nod over Alabama.

Chances?

Again, if you think the committee will go Oregon over Alabama, then the chances of this are quite good. You also might be high.

Excitement level?

Justin Fields vs. Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow vs. Trevor Lawrence. 10/10, would watch.

No. 5

(1) LSU vs. (4) Oklahoma

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

What has to happen

Everybody wins out, Oklahoma gets help in the form of a slip-up loss from Oregon or Utah, somehow jumps those two teams and Alabama.

Chances?

Unfortunately, Oklahoma's loss to Kansas State is the type of black eye that Ohio State's Purdue loss was a season ago. It's going to be too tough for the committee to get over. With that said, the Sooners have a chance to add a pair of impressive wins when they play at rival Oklahoma State and then get a rematch with Baylor in the Big 12 Championship. But they'll still need some help.

Excitement level?

Why is this scenario ranked so high, you ask? Because LSU-Oklahoma might be 92-92 heading into the fourth overtime. That's why.

No. 4

(1) Clemson vs. (4) LSU

(2) Georgia vs. (3) Penn State

What has to happen

Clemson wins out, Georgia wins out, LSU gets in off a loss. Penn State wins out and gets in over one-loss Pac 12 and Big 12 champs, and Alabama.

Chances?

If you trust Las Vegas, Penn State is going to get its doors blown off in Columbus on Saturday. If you believe in magic, the Nittany Lions are going to the playoff.

Excitement level?

VERY high. This would be some chaotic shit. Penn State is the one team that can really throw a wrench into this whole thing if it can beat the Buckeyes on Saturday. Who wouldn't want to see them play Georgia in a rematch of the (checks notes) 1983 Sugar Bowl?

No. 3

(1) LSU vs. (4) Oregon

(2) Clemson vs. (3) Penn State

What has to happen

Everybody wins out. Penn State and Oregon hop Alabama.

Chances?

This is like when Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character in "Angels in the Outfield" tells J.P. "It could happen," only for J.P. to reluctantly agree while knowing full well it cannot happen:

Was this too obscure of a reference?

Excitement level?

This all but guarantees LSU-Clemson but how cool would Oregon-Penn State be in the natty? After years and years of chalk, that'd really be a shock to the system.

No. 2

(1) LSU vs. (4) Penn State

(2) Oregon vs. (3) Oklahoma

What has to happen

Everybody wins out, Clemson somehow loses one of its last three games, Ohio State also loses to Michigan. Alabama loses to Auburn.

Chances?

Uncle Junior Soprano had a better chance of playing shortstop for the Mets.

Excitement level?

Inject this playoff directly into my veins.

No. 1

(1) LSU vs. (4) Baylor

(2) Oregon vs. (3) Minnesota

What has to happen

Everybody wins out, Ohio State loses to Penn State and Michigan, Penn State then loses to Minnesota in the Big Ten Championship. Clemson loses ACC title game. Alabama loses to Auburn.

Chances?

Lol.

Excitement level?

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