Starting 11: Ohio State Dominates Michigan State Edition

It was separation Saturday, at least to a large extent, this weekend as Oregon and Michigan State wrote themselves out of the playoff race and our playoff field diminished in a big way.

Right now my playoff four would be:

1. Georgia
2. Ohio State
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati

But I think if Oklahoma or Oklahoma State can finish 12-1 and win the Big 12 they have a good shot to still snag a playoff spot too.

I’ll explain below.

But let’s get rolling with the Starting 11.

1. Ohio State destroys Michigan State and rises to number two overall in my playoff field.

But the truth is none of this really matters at all if the Buckeyes don’t beat Michigan and (likely) Wisconsin. Because a two loss Ohio State would face a significant uphill battle to make the playoff.


Last week I told you guys that two loss teams could find their way into the playoff mix. That remains possible, which I will discuss below.

But in the meantime there are two teams left alive for the playoff from the Big Ten, Ohio State and Michigan. If the Wolverines win out — I know no one expects this, especially Wolverine fans — and beat Ohio State and Wisconsin they are in the playoff too.

2. The Big 12 isn’t in awful shape for a playoff spot.

With both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State winning, a one loss team is guaranteed to be in the Big 12 playoff game. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, we’ll get a rematch in the Big 12 title game between these two teams. If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma and then Baylor beats Texas Tech, then Oklahoma State would play Baylor in the Big 12 title game.

Either way, a one loss Big 12 champion, in my opinion, would probably be in the playoff.

Yes, I think 12-1 Oklahoma State or 12-1 Oklahoma as a Big 12 champ would end up ranked ahead of Cincinnati or Notre Dame. (Remember 12-1 Oklahoma would have a chance to erase, effectively, their loss against Baylor. And either way both of these teams would get to add a couple of top ten caliber wins to their resume in the process.)

That means, of course, we’d need a massive change in the playoff rankings.

Right now Oklahoma State is ninth and Oklahoma is 13th.

I’d wager both will make significant jumps this coming week because the playoff committee is going to see the way this is shaping up and will provide a big jump over the next couple of weeks for both teams.

3. The SEC is officially set for Georgia-Alabama in the SEC title game.

Georgia, once they beat Georgia Tech on Saturday, will officially stamp their playoff ticket.

Alabama, which figures to be around a three point underdog in the SEC title game, would make the playoff if the Tide beat Auburn this coming weekend and then Georgia. But a two loss Tide team could still be in the mix if chaos happens.

What would chaos look like? Wisconsin wins the Big Ten and a two loss team wins the Big 12. Then Cincinnati potentially loses.

Would you take one loss Cincinnati, one loss Notre Dame, or two loss Alabama or Ohio State? (It’s also possible Oregon could bounce back and finish 11-2 with the Pac 12 title too, which would effectively box Ohio State out and, I think, put Alabama in as the fourth playoff team).

I’m just saying, don’t underestimate the chances of two loss teams getting involved in playoff discussions before all is said and done.

4. Is the Pac 12 done in the playoff race?


Oregon needs a great deal of chaos now to find itself back in the mix.

And even if Oregon came back to beat Utah in the Pac 12 title game, the loss to Stanford looks so bad now and the method in which they were beaten by Utah, would be tough to overcome.

I think the Pac 12, yet again, is going to miss the playoff.

5. What about Cincinnati?

I have Cincinnati at number four in my playoff rankings right now, but I think Cincinnati would get caught and passed by a 12-1 Big 12 champ if Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama ended up taking the top three spots.

The Bearcats need some (or all) of the following to happen: win out, then Georgia to beat Alabama, Wisconsin to beat Ohio State, a two loss Big 12 champ, and Utah to win the Pac 12.

If all that happened, they’d 100% be in.

Right now the most likely playoff scenario in my opinion would be this:

1. 13-0 Georgia
2. 12-1 Ohio State
3. 12-1 Oklahoma or 12-1 Oklahoma State
4. 13-0 Cincinnati

11-1 Notre Dame would be the fifth ranked team in this scenario.

6. Okay, give me the craziest playoff scenario you can come up with.

College football fans love, absolutely love, chaos playoff scenarios.

So here’s my total chaos scenario.

Georgia beats Alabama, Wisconsin beats Ohio State in the Big 10 title game, Baylor beats Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game, Cincinnati loses one of its final two games, Utah beats Oregon and wins the Pac 12 with three losses, Clemson wins the ACC with three losses, and Notre Dame loses to Stanford.

Georgia is still in here as your one seed.

But who are the other three playoff teams?

You’d have 11-2 Alabama, 11-2 Ohio State, 11-2 Big 12 champ Baylor, 10-3 Big Ten Champ Wisconsin, 10-3 Pac 12 champ Utah, 10-3 ACC champ Clemson, 10-2 Notre Dame, and 12-1 Cincinnati all contending for playoff bids.

I tend to think your playoff would end up looking like this if the total chaos scenario arrived:

1. 13-0 Georgia
2. 11-2 Baylor
3. 11-2 Alabama
4. 10-3 Wisconsin

But your guess would be as good as mine.

This would be a total and complete mess.

And my point remains the same, we’re entering into the final week of the regular season when only Georgia can feel 100% confident about its playoff spot.

Look out.

7. What does FanDuel make the national title odds?

Georgia -125
Ohio State 3-1
Alabama 4-1
Oklahoma State 40-1
Cincinnati 40-1
Oklahoma 50-1
Michigan 50-1
Notre Dame 60-1
Pittsburgh 200-1
Baylor 200-1
Wisconsin 200-1
Utah 300-1
Iowa 300-1
Oregon 300-1

Essentially oddsmakers at Fan Duel are throwing up their hands and saying they have no idea who the third and fourth playoff teams will be.

If Georgia beats Alabama then I think you’d get Cincinnati and the Big 12 champ in as the four playoff teams.

8. The Florida Gators are now 2-8 in their last ten games against power five conference opponents.

That’s frankly an unbelievable stat.

Mullen has become such a laughingstock in the SEC that Mizzou’s Eli Drinkwitz trolled his Darth Vader Halloween costume press conference last year with his own Star Wars press conference.

Now Dan Mullen has to beat Florida State on Saturday to get bowl eligible. As bad as things have been for the Seminoles, and make no mistake they have been bad, FSU could make a bowl this year and Florida couldn’t since both teams enter the game 5-6.

Regardless of what happens this coming week, I just don’t see how Mullen’s back next year given how much of a collapse this season has been.

Speaking of which, there are only three teams in the SEC who are not bowl eligible presently: Vanderbilt, Florida and LSU.

What kind of odds could you have gotten on those three teams as the only three not to be bowl eligible at this point in time?

Pretty wild.

I know we still have a week left in the season, but my SEC coach of the year rankings would look like this right now:

1. Georgia
2. Ole Miss (Kiffin could finish 10-2) or Mississippi State (Leach could go 8-4)
3. Tennessee (Heupel is on track for 7-5)
4. South Carolina (Beamer made a bowl, something no one thought was possible.)
5. Kentucky (Stoops has a great shot at 9-3)

9. I have no idea how SEC replay officials 100% determined the punt hit Auburn at the end of the Auburn-South Carolina game.

One of the challenges that remains with college football replay is what standard is being applied.

Do you 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt have to be certain that a call is wrong to change it, or do you need to be mostly certain a call is wrong to change it?

The standard they claim is 100% certainty, but the reality appears to be something different.

If I had to say whether it was more likely than not that the ball hit the Auburn player, I would say that it was more likely than not that the ball hit him. (Throwing up your hands and acting like the ball didn’t hit you is often decent evidence the ball did hit you). But can you prove with 100% certainty the ball hit him based on the replay angles we saw?

I don’t think you can.

So the call on the field should have stayed as it was made.

10. Outkick’s National Top Ten

1. Georgia
2. Ohio State
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati
5. Michigan
6. Oklahoma State
7. Notre Dame
8. Oklahoma
9. Ole Miss
10. Baylor

11. SEC power rankings 1-14

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Ole Miss
4. Mississippi State
5. Texas A&M
6. Arkansas
7. Tennessee
8. Kentucky
9. Missouri
10. South Carolina
11. Auburn
12. LSU
13. Florida
14. Vanderbilt

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

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