College Football Playoff: How Every Conference Could Get Left Out

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Sure, it’s an ugly trophy. But we all want it. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Four playoff spots. Five major conferences. Tale as old as time (or as old as the College Football Playoff. Ok, so two years old). There isn’t space at the table for every power 5 champion. It’s one of the main reasons that expansion to an 8-team playoff seems inevitable.

Last year, 1-loss Big XII co-champions Baylor and TCU were both sent to New Years’ 6 games instead of semifinals. Another power conference will be left out this year. If Notre Dame wins out they’ll also have a strong resume. If the Irish take a spot, the committee has three lines on the bracket for five conferences. Let’s look at how each conference can end up on the outside looking in.

Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12

It’s possible that the Texas and friends league once again doesn’t get asked to dance. An undefeated champion would clearly get in, especially because only three power-5 leagues still have undefeated teams.

Oklahoma is the Big 12’s best shot as a one-loss champion in the Playoff. The Sooners are the only Big XII contender with an out-of-conference win over a power-5 team (at Tennessee). They lead the conference in scoring defense, pass defense, and total defense. Last year, Baylor and TCU were both criticized and eventually penalized for weak out of conference scheduling and unimpressive defense. Oklahoma has both of those concerns covered, and would have wins over Baylor, Oklahoma State, and TCU.

The biggest problem one-loss Baylor, Oklahoma State, or TCU would face is the timing of their only loss. Between the three teams, their best out of conference win is TCU’s over Minnesota, who currently has a 4-5 record (1-4, 6th in Big Ten West). Fortunately these teams would have signature wins over one of the other three teams and over Oklahoma. Would that be enough to overcome a November loss and unimpressive scheduling? It’s hard to say.

Next: How The Big 10 Could Get Left Out Of The Playoff