A four-team college football playoff is still a year away.
Thanks to Oklahoma State's 49-17 win over Baylor last Saturday, it would appear the Big 12's chance at a BCS title appearance is all but officially kaput. Basically, just about everyone would need to lose in the next two weeks for the Cowboys, ranked No. 7 in the latest BCS standings, to think about a national championship.
If college football's playoff were this year, though, how would the Pokes be viewed?
George Schroeder of the USA Today expanded on the idea Sunday. Of course, who makes up that hypothetical playoff field depends on what happens over the next couple of weeks. That, as Schroeder explains, is tough to predict:
If Auburn beats Alabama on Saturday, the Crimson Tide might not drop far. With a win against Texas A&M, Missouri would get its shot at either Alabama or Auburn in the SEC championship game. And it's unclear how developments away from the field might play out. State Attorney Willie Meggs says a decision on whether to charge Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in a sexual assault case probably won't be made before Thanksgiving. This could become way more complicated, and in a hurry.
If Oklahoma State is one of, say, six or seven one-loss teams at the end of the year, the hypothetical situation becomes convoluted. Long story short, it would benefit the Pokes more if multiple one-loss teams in the Top 10 (Auburn and Missouri, for example) lost again over the next two weeks. Schroeder continues:
But if Alabama wins out and nothing changes in Tallahassee, the what-if argument comes down to Clemson and Oklahoma State, which finish the regular season with rivalry games. If the Tigers beat South Carolina and the Cowboys beat Oklahoma, who's the best one-loss team?
One would hope that the selection committee in charge of choosing the four teams would put a priority on strength of schedule and quality wins more than losses. Using Schroeder's example, Clemson and Oklahoma State have lost awful games. The Tigers got wrecked by Florida State at home, and the Cowboys dropped a stinker in Morgantown to West Virginia in September.
Trying to decide which loss is less offensive is a little like deciding which death, dysentery or typhoid fever, you'd rather suffer while playing "Oregon Trail."
So let's look at wins. That should be the more important factor anyway. Oklahoma State's best win is clear: Baylor. Clemson's best win to date was the season-opener against Georgia when the Bulldogs were healthy. However, a road win over South Carolina to end the season would be impressive as well.
The Cowboys have technically played more Top 25 teams than Clemson, but two—Texas and Texas Tech—are no longer ranked.
The other potential factor to consider in a playoff is whether a team won its conference or not. If Oklahoma State finishes the season with one loss, it will have won the Big 12; Clemson didn't win its own division. That's not to say the Cowboys are automatically the better team, but if nits are being picked, that type of consideration could be made.
Oklahoma State would need help either way, but the Cowboys might have an edge over a team like Clemson if College Football Playoff was implemented this year.