Just two weeks after the first release of the NCAA football playoff rankings everything we thought we knew turned out to be a mirage. For the first time in memory, the Numbers 2,3, and 4 teams all lost within the span of a couple of hours. While that makes for consternation in Ann Arbor, Clemson, and Seattle, it makes for a fun conversation for fans of the sport. So what did we think we knew? What do we think we know now? Is it likely to change? Gildshire Magazine asked some veteran football fans for their thoughts.
Michael S. is a 38-year old graduate of Northwestern University. He is a veteran, home this year after a tour of Afghanistan. He is a season ticket holder for his alma mater.
Don J. is a 66-year old former football coach. He is a retired broadcaster, mostly in the news department, but with a little play-by-play experience, as well.
Brenda S. is a 44-year old systems analyst. Her hobbies include sports wagering and fantasy football.
Gildshire: Wow. That was some week! What do you guys make of the carnage in the rankings?
Don: Well, every year brings changes from the first poll to the last. But this was a real shaking up to happen in one week.
Michael: Michigan is the one that really surprised me. I saw them going to the championship game.
Gildshire: Michael was most surprised by Michigan. Do the other two of you agree?
Brenda: I think so. Clemson has shown some willingness to give up yards and points. Their loss was an upset, but not a total shock. But I didn’t see the Wolverines being taken down by Iowa. Not by a long shot.
Gildshire: What about Washington?
Don: To me, they were the team that probably didn’t belong in the Top Four, to begin with. I know it was an upset by the betting line, but I’m not sure their loss to USC was even an upset.
Brenda: Even at home?
Don: Even at home. Look, they haven’t beaten anyone except Utah! Their non-conference schedule was pitiful. Sam Darnold has revitalized the Trojans. I don’t think it was an upset. Certainly not a major one.
Gildshire: Let’s look at this week’s rankings. Ohio State jumped from fifth to second. Your thoughts?
Michael: That’s about right. But it will be their game against Michigan that decides who will represent the Big Ten in the playoffs. I can’t see them both making it.
Brenda: I can’t wait for that game!
Don: I have Ohio State and Alabama in the championship game. That said, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines would knock them off. I disagree with Michael, though. If the OSU-Michigan game is close, and other teams in the top tier lose, they could both be in the playoffs.
Gildshire: Wouldn’t an Ohio State-Michigan rematch in the championship game be something?
Brenda: (Laughs) Heads would explode in the SEC.
Gildshire: Even with a loss,Clemson held on to a spot in the Top Four.
Don: That spot belongs, rightfully, to Louisville.
Brenda: But Louisville lost to Clemson.
Don: Today, as we sit here, Louisville is the better team.
Gildshire: Michael, what do you think about that?
Michael: I tend to agree with Don. If the idea is to rank the Top Four by the best team right now, Louisville is the choice. Even though, head-to-head has to matter. So, I guess I’m a little torn.
Gildshire: We talked a bit about Washington. They dropped to Number Six. Do they have a chance to make it back into the Top Four?
Michael: I would say yes.
Don: Not if they play USC again.
Gildshire: Thank you all. This has been fun. Do you mind if we call on you again? Maybe around playoff time?
Don: Let’s do it.
Brenda: I’m in!