The profiteers of college football—the television execs, marketing mavens, ticket brokers—have their fingers crossed. They know the matchups they want in the College Football Playoff:
No. 2 Marcus Mariota vs. No. 3 Jameis Winston in the Rose Bowl
There will be buzz, and there will be joy...in the secondary ticket market. It will be three weeks of 'Bama fans saying Saban scared Meyer out of Florida and Oregon fans saying their quarterback is a saint, and the FSU guy is a sinner. Then it will be a week of debate of SEC substance over Pac-12 style or Saban vs. protege Fisher.
However, there are many others who want a bowl full of chaos.
How about these reachable scenarios of havoc?
Hogs win for the Dawgs
Arkansas went 17 games without winning in the SEC. Now it has consecutive victories over LSU and Ole Miss—shutout wins, no less. The Razorbacks lost by a point to Alabama and by seven to No. 4 Mississippi State on the road. This is a last place team? You should be very impressed by the Hogs. They didn't quit when the Georgia Bulldogs trashed them 45-32 back in October either (not as close as final score).
Now, the Hogs can do Georgia a huge favor by winning on Friday against Missouri. The Tigers' pass-rushing marauders (38 sacks) won't be a lot of use against the bench-pressing, running Hogs.
If Arkansas wins, Georgia wins the SEC East and goes to the SEC Championship Game.
The Bulldogs do not have Todd Gurley, but they do have someone even better—Nick Chubb. I swear, the freshman is an upgrade. Even before Gurley got hurt against Auburn, he looked a step slow, as if he had an issue already. I know, he had some rust to knock off from his four-game suspension, but he wasn't the same as the first month. Chubb is fresher lightning, the offensive line is glued together and Georgia is still averaging 6.1 yards per rush with all the time Gurley missed.
Here is a scenario: The Bulldogs, inside the Georgia Dome, handle Alabama...or maybe Mississippi State if Auburn beats 'Bama.
Georgia receiver Chris Conley, who had that last pass fall in his arms in the 2012 SEC Championship Game and was tackled ending a late drive, makes the last catch in the end zone this time. Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the defensive coordinator at FSU in 2013 and former employee of Nick Saban, shows he is worth almost a million to coach one side of the ball. They say he can win the down by design before the snap. He gets his chance.
Then, we'll see about the SEC bias rigmarole, the merits of its two-loss champion (providing UGA beats Georgia Tech). Will the CFP committee really look at a two-loss SEC team if Georgia (No. 10) was to beat Alabama and Mississippi State was to stumble in the Egg Bowl at Ole Miss? Maybe, but the committee would have another hot two-loss team to consider...
When your quarterback has completed 75 percent of his passes in three games with just one pick, you make anybody nervous—even the team that has Marcus Mariota. Brett Hundley and the Bruins still have to beat Stanford this week before they can think about Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, but UCLA fans are dreaming about a national semifinal on their home field.
Two things to consider: Hundley was tossing to receivers running wide, wide open against Southern Cal on Saturday. Stanford, even with a beat-up defensive line, is better on defense than USC.
But although Cardinal head coach David Shaw has beaten Jim Mora in two meetings and is 3-0 against UCLA, we all know the Bruins own Los Angeles. They said so.
Now they can claim deed on the state.
The Bruins are No. 9 in the CFP. Do they really have a chance to get to the playoff with two losses?
They do if this happens...
…A Big 12 pileup
Baylor still has to play Kansas State. TCU still has to play Texas, which has gotten better. Bears lose. Horned Frogs lose. The Big 12 has three teams with two losses and no title game to settle things. That's chaos. That's the Big 12 being left at home for the four-team playoff.
The Big 12 will have to determine its champion with a three-way tiebreaker that I can make no sense of. Step 1 says, "The records of the three teams will be compared against each other." Good luck with that. Baylor beat TCU, which beat K-State, which could beat Baylor. UCLA has its fingers crossed for a two-loss Big 12 champ, and so does...
The Buckeyes have this maroonish-colored gum stuck on the bottom of their shoe. It's called Virginia Tech. The Hokies beat the Buckeyes 35-21 early in the season when Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was just a few weeks on the job as the starter. Since then, Tech is 5-6 and lost by a score of 6-3 to Wake Forest. It has made Ohio State look really bad.
Here is what you should know about Virginia Tech: The Hokies have had injuries to four tailbacks, and they have been missing their veteran linebacker to injury. Tech has had 14 serious injuries. Losing to the Hokies wasn't as bad as it now seems.
Still, that achy loss to Tech has Ohio State swimming uphill against Mississippi State and TCU in the CFP standings. I have this suspicion, though, that the Buckeyes and their pedigree are going to get them into the Top Four if they win out. The committee, I betcha, has some eyes on Virginia Tech and has a different view of the Ohio State loss.
The Buckeyes, of course, have to win the Big Ten title game against either Wisconsin or better-than-we-thought Minnesota. Wisconsin, the team that forgot about tailback Melvin Gordon in the second half of the loss to LSU, has been handing it off to Gordon regularly, and he has over 2,000 yards rushing. The Badgers will be a tough out if they beat the Gophers.
(A thought: We spend all this time on the CFP and the big picture and not enough on these teams and players who just rise from the rubble. Arkansas, Wisconsin-after-LSU, Barrett, Texas, Missouri-after-Georgia. Comebackers. Way to go, guys.)
One last thing:
What Texans really want: Christmas chaos
Baylor and TCU win out. Alabama loses again. Mississippi State loses again. Oregon loses to UCLA.
The Bears (11-1) and Frogs (11-1) win national semifinals over FSU and Ohio State. Baylor vs. TCU in a backyard brawl in Dallas for the national title game. 61-58 again. Bigger than the Cowboys (for a week). TCU wins this time.
What really happens? Scalpers spend time celebrating on beachfront in February because 'Bama plays Ohio State and Mariota duels Winston.
Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report. He has covered college football and various other sports for 20 years. His work has appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and Al Jazeera America. He is the author of How the SEC Became Goliath (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2013).