It’s craziness to be having this conversation, but here we are. The Colorado Buffaloes are still alive for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff.
At 10-2, the Buffaloes have had their best season in quite awhile, but it can still get even better. Once the laughing stock of the Pac-12 conference, the Buffaloes will face the Washington Huskies (11-1) for the conference championship on Friday night.
Though Mike MacIntyre and his bunch are not about to look past a very formidable opponent, we’re going to do that here. So, how exactly can the Buffs qualify for a spot in the College Football Playoff?
First, we have to remember that these decisions are not made by a computer. These decisions are made by humans who just select the four teams they feel are best. There is no science. You have to win and be impressive doing so.
Alabama and Ohio State are going to be in. Right now, Clemson and Washington would be in as well. If they win this weekend, they’ll claim the other two spots. But if one or both of those schools lose, things get interesting, particularly for the Buffs.
With that said, let’s take a look at all the things that may have to happen for the Buffaloes to get one of the four spots.
Nov 25, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington Huskies mascot Harry the Husky looks on against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Huskies won 45-17. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
This one is obvious. If Colorado loses to Washington on Friday night, then none of the other stuff we talk about here will matter.
Colorado must first take care of its own business by defeating a solid Huskies team in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Should it accomplish that feat, it will force the selection committee to leave out the conference champion and include perhaps two Big 10 teams.
Washington has lost just one game all season, so a win over the Huskies would look very good on Colorado’s resume.
Colorado has lost six games in a row against Washington and is 0-4 against them since joining the Pac-12. The Buffs last win over the Huskies came back in the 1996 Holiday Bowl.
Nov 26, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Dare Ogunbowale (23) celebrates with the Paul Bunyan Trophy after their game against Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports
How do you like the fact that Ohio State is a virtual lock for the playoff and it won’t even play in its own conference championship game?
Instead, the Big 10 Championship Game will be contested between Wisconsin and Penn State. Both of these teams will have an argument to be added to the playoff as a second team from the Big 10 depending on who wins, but the argument of Penn State would be much more compelling.
After all, the Nittany Lions are the only team to have defeated Ohio State this season. If you’re a CU fan, you should be rooting against Penn State for that reason.
Should the Badgers win the title game, they’ll have an argument for a playoff spot as well. However, it won’t be as strong.
The committee would have to decide between the Pac-12 conference champion and the Big 10 conference champion, but if I’m on that committee, I go with the Buffs as they would have defeated a team (Washington) that was ranked in the top four going into Championship Weekend.
Nov 26, 2016; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies offensive lineman Augie Conte (72) and head coach Justin Fuente celebrate with the ACC Coastal Division Championship Trophy after beating the Virginia Cavaliers at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
This scenario would really open things up and give the committee some difficult choices. However, it’s probably the least likely of those mentioned.
Clemson was No. 3 in the most recent playoff rankings, so a win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game would qualify the Tigers for one of the four spots. But what if they were to lose?
Virginia Tech is 9-3 on the season and though Clemson will be a heavy favorite, it hasn’t been as dominant this year as it was last year. Should the Hokies pull the upset, the Buffs would have a major case for being one of the final four teams with a win over Washington, even if Penn State was able to beat Wisconsin.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be a very interesting process. If the Buffaloes are to defeat Washington on Friday night, let’s just hope that the selection committee puts the importance on winning a conference championship that they should.
Still, the fact that we’re talking about the Colorado Buffaloes and College Football Playoff in the same sentence in the first week of December is nothing short of awesome, and that’s good enough, right?