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How Week 6 might’ve robbed the Playoff race of long-term drama

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Week 6 brought temporary drama, perhaps at the expense of long-term excitement.

NCAA Football: Texas at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Week 6 of the college football season brought great drama. Could Oklahoma really complete its comeback against Texas? Would Miami really lose at home as a double-digit favorite to a bad FSU team? Could LSU’s Cinderella run continue? And would Auburn score a touchdown?

But at what cost?

Ultimately, Week 6 might have really limited the drama going forward in the 2018 college football season.

Take the Pac-12, for one example.

Conference favorite Washington struggled to put away a bad UCLA in a game most probably didn’t see. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a big deal. But look at what happened to Washington’s strength of schedule, one of the committee’s most frequently cited factors:

  • Auburn lost at Mississippi State, its second loss of the season. And with the Tigers’ remaining schedule, Washington’s loss to Auburn could easily end up being to an unranked opponent.
  • Stanford, upon whom Washington was likely counting to be a ranked team, proceeded to lose 40-21 at home to Utah. That stings. And if Stanford finishes with four losses, that would really hurt Washington’s schedule strength.
  • Cal, another formerly quality opponent on Washington’s schedule, lost to Arizona.
  • And BYU got blown out at home by Utah State.

The Huskies have Oregon this weekend, and in my opinion, the Huskies might not only need to win the game, but they might need style points.

On the flip side in that game, due to Oregon’s home loss to a now plummeting Stanford and one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the nation, Oregon does not have a guaranteed path to the playoff, even if it runs the table.

Is the Big 12 also in trouble now?

With all due respect to West Virginia, Oklahoma was the league’s best chance to make the playoff. And while the Sooners can still make it, they are far from controlling their own destiny like they were.

Texas is having a nice bounceback season, but can it make the playoff with a loss against a Maryland team that is going to be fighting to make a bowl? I think a 12-1 Texas would have a shot, but it is absolutely not the lock that an undefeated Oklahoma would have been.

Also hurting the league is the continued poor play by Oklahoma State. The Cowboys looked great against Boise State, but that win is now less impressive since Boise is racking up losses. And giving up 48 at home to Iowa State does not help keep lots of Big 12 teams ranked in the top 25, another thing the committee looks for.

As for West Virginia, the Mountaineers are undefeated, which is great. But with a schedule coming up of Baylor, at Texas, TCU, at Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma, plus a potential conference championship game, the odds of WVU finishing undefeated — which is probably what it would need to do because its non-conference slate is a joke without the NC State game (cancelled by hurricane) — just isn’t very good.

For that matter, is anyone in the Big 12 really all that likely to finish with fewer than two losses anyway?

Five teams have separated themselves from the pack for playoff contention.

According to ESPN’s playoff predictor, Ohio State (74 percent chance of making the final four), Alabama (72), Clemson (72), Notre Dame (62) and Georgia (55) percent have really separated from the field.

The next closest contenders are Penn State (14), the Sooners and Huskies at 12 percent each, and Michigan at 11 percent.

You can quibble with the numbers some, but this does feel about right as to the size of the gap between the five teams on top and everyone else, with respect to playoff odds. It’s not impossible, it’s just not as likely as it was before Week 6.

We’ll gain some clarity this weekend.

Aside from Washington at Oregon, this weekend has another major game on deck.

Georgia travels to Baton Rouge for what is undoubtedly the toughest game remaining on its schedule, until the SEC Championship. The Bulldogs are favored by a touchdown, and if they get the win on the road, they will be favored by double-digits in every remaining game.

Most scenarios projecting the SEC with two teams in the CFP involve the Bulldogs going undefeated in the regular season and losing to Alabama in the SECCG. If LSU pulls the upset this weekend, that option is off the table, and Georgia would need to beat Alabama in Atlanta to have a shot.

With the preeminence of Alabama, more drama about who makes the playoff would have been nice.

This Alabama team is -225 TO WIN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP at the Westgate Casino in Las Vegas. For the uninitiated, you would need to bet $225 to net $100 on the Tide. It’s a ridiculous wager, but through a month plus, even casual fans can sense that this team is different, and that if Alabama continues, the playoff might lack for drama.

Because of that, it would have been cool to have a lot of teams vying for playoff spots.