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Joe Boozell | | November 16, 2016

CFP reactions: Ohio State looking strong at 2; Clemson at 4

  Alabama has been the one constant in a chaotic 2016 college football season.

We have a fresh batch of College Football Playoff rankings to digest after the most chaotic weekend of the season.

Teams two through five seemed pretty obvious going in, but their order was a mystery. Guess no longer:

We’ll start with the winners – what a time it is to be an Ohio State Buckeye. OSU comes in at No. 2 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, which is a major boon towards the Buckeyes’ Playoff aspirations. As of now, Ohio State looks like it will hang on to the No. 2 seed even if it doesn’t win the Big Ten – provided the Bucks take down Michigan, of course.

Ohio State is ranked second right now; the committee couldn’t possibly ding the Buckeyes if they defeat the Wolverines, right? And at the very most, perhaps a spot or two? Obviously, some serious gymnastics would need to occur for OSU to win the conference championship, but the Buckeyes are sitting pretty either way. Michigan’s setback against Iowa didn’t send Jim Harbaugh’s program tumbling down the rankings, but in forecasting what future polls might look like given the looming schedule, it will have major implications.

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If no major upsets occur in the final weeks of the season (warning: your laptop might explode after reading that sentence), it appears as though there is one Playoff spot that’s up for grabs; we won’t see both Ohio State and Michigan reach the semifinals. Thus, while the top three is interesting, teams four through eight draw the most intrigue.

Washington is certainly disappointed it lost to USC on Saturday, but the fact that the Huskies are still ranked ahead of Wisconsin and Penn State is a huge deal. If Washington wins the Pac-12 and Ohio State beats Michigan, the final Playoff spot could come down to the Huskies and the Big Ten champion.

Perhaps the Badgers defeating the Nittany Lions (or vice versa) would catapult them past the Huskies, but Washington has opportunities to pick up quality wins later on. Its remaining schedule:

Washington remaining schedule
Date Opponent
Nov. 19 Arizona State
Nov. 25 @No. 23 Washington State
Dec. 2 *Pac-12 title game, if necessary

There was legitimate concern among Washington fans that their squad would dip below one of those Big Ten schools, if not both. They were losers this weekend, but the most recent CFP rankings give UW (more than) a glimmer of hope.

On the flip side, Tuesday was a tough night for Louisville. It’s tough to see a Cardinals’ Playoff path that doesn’t include a Clemson loss, and that’s certainly possible, given the Tigers’ recent showing against Pittsburgh.

But nobody in the ACC Coastal looks particularly frightening, and the Tigers get two relative cupcakes to finish off the regular season in Wake Forest and South Carolina.

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Louisville’s final two games don’t look too daunting, either, but that’s kind of a problem when you are chasing a Playoff spot. The Cardinals travel to Houston this Thursday before closing out the season at home against Kentucky; each of those wins would look nice, but they wouldn’t be substantial enough to jump any school of note.

If Washington wins out, a leap above Louisville looks inevitable. So besides a Clemson loss, this is the Cardinals’ most viable path to the College Football Playoff: hope Michigan beats Ohio State and wins the Big Ten title; root for any school but Washington to win the Pac-12. In that scenario, two ACC programs might be able to make it. But with how good Louisville has been this season, it feels like the waters shouldn’t be so murky.

Again, perhaps all of this is moot. Nobody expected Michigan to lose to Iowa. And if you predicted the Pittsburgh upset at Clemson, I’d need to see written proof. Chances are, another substantial upset nobody sees coming (or, heck, maybe two or three) is still lurking.

Regardless, this is shaping up to be an exhilarating college football stretch run.

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