Fans of chaos – and isn’t that really America’s Team – probably won’t get what they want this weekend out of the parade of conference football championship games. Too many out-of-balance match-ups. But we can always hope.
What do we want?
When do we want it?
As quickly as you can say: Settle down, Dabo, everyone still loves you.
Scenario 1: Ideally, of course, everyone would exit conference championship week with at least one loss, leaving the playoff selection committee no sure and easy way to arrive at the four teams worthy of a bracket. There would be the potential for politicking from far-flung precincts in three time zones, a nation ablaze in partisanship, with none of it stemming from Washington, D.C.
Such a thing would require that the top three teams in the FBS playoff rankings – unbeatens Ohio State, LSU and Clemson – fall in quick succession. Bet that parlay in Las Vegas, I think you’d be in line to win an entire casino, along with the Cirque du Soleil troupe of your choice.
Only Georgia seems equipped to contribute to that cause. Even then, the betting public has soured on the Bulldogs’ chances against LSU here in Atlanta as the line has ticked up to just over a touchdown in the Tigers’ favor. That seems awfully rich for the most compelling matchup of the weekend. Once more, the SEC puts on the best show, earns the benefit of every doubt and reaps the scorn of every other region in the land.
In the Big Ten Championship game, Ohio State rematches with a team, Wisconsin, it already has terminated once this season with extreme prejudice (38-7). The Buckeyes are a 16-point favorite, and Justin Fields on one-and-a-half knees is probably enough to maintain a comfortable victory margin.
And by all reports they are going to go ahead with the ACC Championship game as planned Saturday night despite overwhelming lack of public demand. This is not a proud time for this conference which on the football side continues to devolve into Clemson and the Pips. The Tigers are favored by 28 over Virginia. They’ve already had their one mandated scare within the ACC – stuffing a late, bold North Carolina two-point conversion to win by one at the end of September – and are in no mood to entertain another. Do viewers at least get a free Dr Pepper if they watch the whole thing (or have they already suffered enough?).
Scenario 2, just a soupcon of chaos: More possibly, Ohio State and Clemson both win as overwhelming favorites. But Georgia edges LSU, dropping the Tigers into the mosh pit of one-loss teams.
Then, let’s see how they like it when the selection committee keeps LSU in the playoff over, say, a one-loss Pac-12 champion Utah (if it beats Oregon on Friday night) and a one-loss Big 12 champ (either Oklahoma or Baylor). Because, well, LSU still has the better resume.
That would be just, while also meeting at least our daily minimum requirement of chaos.
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