There isn’t much dismay over the latest College Football Playoff standings as the order of Tuesday’s top 4 was clear by Saturday night. The only remaining debate is who will enter the CFP if any of these four teams lose their respective conference championship games.
Joel Klatt claimed the nation’s three unbeaten teams – No. 1 GeorgiaNo. 2 Michigan and No. 3 TCU – should (and will) make the playoffs regardless of this weekend’s results.
“I don’t think these top three unbeaten are going anywhere, even if they lose,” he said on Wednesday’s The Joel Klatt Show. “On this championship game weekend, I don’t think those teams, especially the top three, should be penalized for qualifying for those games and winning every one of their games up to that point. They’re all 12-0, they’re all playing for their conference title, and even if they lose, I think they belong in the college football playoffs.”
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The conversation will be moot on selection Sunday when No. 14 Georgia beats LSU for the SEC championship, Michigan beats Purdue for the Big Ten title, TCU tops Kansas State for the Big 12 championship and No. 4 USC 11 beats Utah for the Pac-12 title. But losses in the top four open the door for No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Alabama, neither of which are playing this weekend.
Klatt insists the Crimson Tide, who would presumably need at least two teams ahead of them to lose, shouldn’t make it into the CFP. His main logic is that Alabama with two losses in the regular season doesn’t deserve to take on an undefeated team that qualified for an extra game.
“I don’t see any way Bama could win an argument against any of those three,” Klatt said. “I think that’s pretty clear with Georgia. … Michigan would only have one loss and they have the best win in the country. … Everyone’s saying if TCU and USC lose, maybe Bama has a way. For real? I don’t actually see it First, let’s assess with clear eyes that TCU has 12 wins. Bama cannot reach more than 10. That in and of itself really should do it. But then you can even go to the resume.
It would show Alabama’s best win came in Texas, a team that also beat TCU away. However, the Horned Frogs also have a win over Kansas State, which would also mark their only loss if they fell in Saturday’s Big 12 title game.
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That leaves Ohio State as the only team outside of the top 4 that Klatt believes makes a case for the CFP. But he wouldn’t pick the Buckeyes over the Horned Frogs should the latter lose to Kansas State on Saturday. Such a scenario would probably spark the most heated debate about the last field.
“By that point, Kansas State will be right next to Penn State,” Klatt said. “So the two wins that the two teams have are basically equal and in that regard you would only penalize TCU for losing a game that they qualified for as an extra game. … I don’t think Ohio State is a threat to TCU if they lose, clearly not Michigan, and I don’t think Georgia either.
“I believe Ohio State’s only chance of making the playoffs is if USC loses.”
While Klatt is opposed to penalizing a team for achieving their conference championship, he thinks the Buckeyes’ regular-season record just dwarfs that of the Trojans. Ohio State’s best win came at No. 8 Penn State. USC is located in No. 15 Oregon state. The Buckeyes’ loss was a blowout at home to undefeated Michigan. The Trojans got on the road by a point, but to a Utah team that would likely still be rated below Penn State.
Add another loss to the Utes on Friday and USC’s case of being the first team picked for the CFP with two losses isn’t as compelling.
“We’re playing for one last place,” said Klatt. “USC wins, you’re in. If you lose, you’ll likely lose that argument against Ohio State. Everyone else – win, lose – you’re in. Georgia, Michigan, TCU, start preparing [for the CFP]. Incidentally, Michigan and TCU are probably already going head-to-head in the Fiesta Bowl.”
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FOX Sports College Football Analyst Joel Klatt dives into his top 10 teams each week, answers questions and discusses the major storylines in college football on his podcast. Download “The Joel Klatt Show” here.
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