Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to the unveiling of perhaps the greatest technological innovation of our time: THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF HOPE-O-METER! Over the course of the 2019 season, we will put our ultra-violet spectrum of college football emotion to the test, processing each weekend's scoreboard—and it's array of hopes, dreams, and delusions—to determine the state of the all-important CFP push. Here's where things stand as of today...
Meet the new rankings, same as the old rankings. There wasn’t a whole lot of moving and shaking in week 3 of the College Football Playoff rankings, with the top 5 all standing pat. But between a devastating hip injury and the fall of the 2019’s last remaining Cinderella, there’s still plenty of new, exciting emotional detritus to wade through. To the Hope-O-Meter, Batman!
Mortal Lock - Clemson
Alright folks, that’s it. It’s a wrap. The Clemson Tigers will be one of the four College Football Playoff semifinalists come December 8th. I think we wrote this same exact sentence in Week 2, but after a 52-3 victory over Wake Forest, their best remaining opponent, the sure became thing even surer. Left for Clemson is a road trip to South Carolina, which despite the in-state rivalry element, should be a walk, and then the ACC Championship game, likely against Virginia. There’s no margin for error, but according to FiveThirtyEight, Clemson currently has a 90% chance to make the CFP, a whopping 22% higher than the next closest team, LSU. Nothing is certain until the big-boned woman sings, but she's backstage warming up the pipes as we speak.
Cautiously Optimistic - Utah
If you’re a Utes fan, you have to be feeling pretty good right now. A. This is the first time Utah has sniffed National Championship relevancy since Urban Meyer and B. You’re going to get a shot at a late-season statement against top-10 Oregon in the PAC-12 championship game. If the Utes find a way to win that on neutral soil and if one-loss Georgia loses to LSU in the SEC Championship and if the committee cold-shoulders a non-conference champion Alabama playing with a backup quarterback, then the next team up—as it currently stands—is Utah. That’s a lot of ifs, and if you’re Utah you’re also definitely rooting against Penn State this weekend, but as of Week 11, Utah in the CFP is not science fiction, and that's saying something.
Depressingly Pessimistic – Alabama
We don’t feel bad for Alabama and literally never will. The team run by the devil cheering the devil when the applause card tells them to is not exactly our cup of college football tea, but still, what happened this weekend really, truly sucks. By now you’ve no doubt heard that Heisman contender and potential number-one-overall pick Tua Tagovaiola suffered a dislocated hip late in the second quarter of Alabama’s blowout victory over Mississippi State on Saturday. His surgery was reportedly successful, and doctors predict he’ll make a full recovery, but it does effectively spell the end of Alabama’s CFP hopes. Obviously, Tua began his Crimson Tide career as a little-known backup, but unfortunately for Mac Jones, lightning doesn’t strike twice, especially when you’ve already lost to LSU. Suffice to say, for the first time since its advent, it looks like the College Football Playoff will not include Alabama. Really, you hate to see it…
Fuggedaboutit – Minnesota
Damn. This one hurts. I really, really, REALLY wanted to live in a world where the Minnesota Golden Gophers had made a College Football Playoff, but alas, it was too good to be true. A week after the Gophers’ “arrival” victory against Penn State, Minnesota exited stage left with a loss at Iowa, where CFP hopes go to die (just ask Ohio State about that one.) There’s still a good chance they win the Big Ten West and get a shot at the Big Ten championship, but unlike second-ranked Ohio State, they simply weren’t ranked high enough to withstand a loss. There was one path for the Gophers—who now have to be rebound and beat Wisconsin on the final day of the regular season just to make said championship game—and that was to win out. Unfortunately for all of us—man, woman, child, and pet—it was not to be.
Let’s also pour some out for Baylor football, who were up 31-10 over Oklahoma at halftime on Saturday night, only to give up 24 unanswered in the second half. It is perhaps the single most brutal loss of the college football season and spells the end for both the Bears and the Big 12. May both rest in peace.