No pain, no gain

This week's top four CFP losers: Welcome to not-so-Happy Valley

November 1, 2017
Penn State fan in face paint.
G Fiume

It’s the most wonderful time of the year...and no we’re not talking about the holidays. Those suck. We are talking about the College Football Playoff push, which we plan to celebrate every Wednesday from now until the end of the college football season and/or human civilization by determining the top four CFP losers in America. Crying allowed, whining encouraged, BYOWhiskey.

[Law & Order sound effect] Week 1: Welp, it’s official. ESPN’s weekly College Football Playoff ranking show/Nielsen smash-n'-grab is back and as backbreaking as ever, rolling out its first rankings of 2017 in predictably logic-less fashion while you OD’d on Kit Kats and crappy slasher sequels last night. In case you missed it or just need a refresher, here’s how everything stands as of this morning:

1.) Georgia, followed closely by the team they'll lose to next month…

2.) Alabama, followed by a team who already lost to Georgia…

3.) Notre Dame, followed by a team who lost to Syracuse (not a typo)…

4.) Clemson

But we aren’t here to talk about the winners. If you want more that, go read your Patriots blog. Instead, we’re here to talk about the four teams teams that—12 hours into this, the season of eternal college football optimism—are already completely, hopelessly railroaded (arranged in order of railroad spike circumference). Let’s begin.

4.) Ohio State:

Icon Sportswire

Listen, we know it’s not easy to sympathize with the Buckeyes, arguably the most privileged program in the scotch-sipping, freshie-paddling college football fraternity. But they just had a capital-W Win—a full-bore, flat-out statement of intent in which their NCAA-record smashing QB soared to the head of the Heisman race by taking down the #2 team in the nation via 18-point comeback while Gus Johnson howled at the harvest moon. They still have a solid shot at sneaking in if they win out, but with Oklahoma currently owning first-team-out status AND the head-to-head, the fact the committee isn’t quite buying the Buckeyes yet—despite the single best win in college football this season—puts their fate largely in the hands of the Big 12.

3.) Wisconsin:

Icon Sportswire

Wisconsin is undefeated. Wisconsin is ranked #4 in the AP poll. Wisconsin is absolutely screwed. Coming in behind FIVE (six, if you consider that one of Georgia/Alabama HAS to lose) one-loss teams with not a single ranked team remaining on their regular season schedule, Wisconsin needs to blow some folks out, not lose 59-0 to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game (again), and hope for complete and total CFP apocalypse in order to backdoor their way into the national title kitchen this season.

Note to Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez (HE LIVES!): You gotta put a little more meat on that schedule bone, my friend. An FPI of 18.6 as an unbeaten, Big 10 West-leading legacy program simply isn’t going to cut it with the committee.

2.) TCU:

Cooper Neill

Poor TCU. After missing out on the inaugural CFP in intestine-wrenching fashion, this year’s undefeated Horned Frogs squad—seemingly a shoe-in for the Big 12’s shiny new championship game—looked like they finally had a fighting chance. Then they went out and lost to Iowa State by the very Purdue vs. Minnesota score of 14-7 three days before the first CFP ranking of the season, and their dreams went up in purple camouflage smoke. Obliterate Texas this weekend and beat the Sooners on November 11th, and TCU is right back in this thing, but at #8 in the initial ranking, they are going to need to pray to their extraterrestrial amphibian overlords for help.

1.) Penn State:

Centre Daily Times

I know your Big Ten bias alarm is ringing off the hook, but bear with us for just a second here: This time last week, Penn State were widely considered the second best team in the nation. They possessed THE Heisman frontrunner. They had embarrassed Michigan in primetime. They were up 35-20 on their arch rivals' turf in the fourth quarter. Then J.T. Barrett happened and now look. LOOK AT IT! The Nittany Lions no longer control their own destiny, let alone their bowel movements.

Even if the Buckeyes go out and lose to Michigan, Penn State won’t make the Big Ten title game. Even if two of Notre Dame/Clemson/Oklahoma/Ohio State somehow lose again, Penn State will still be on the outside looking in…just like they were last year, when they beat Ohio State, won the Big Ten championship, and then watched Buckeyes waltz into that Clemson semifinal beatdown anyway. Needless to say, anyone still smiling in Happy Valley today is doing so from the inside of a padded room.


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