God bless college football. Just when we saw five Top 10 teams fall last weekend and just when we thought the sport couldn’t get any zanier, it somehow did on Thursday night.
Louisville -- the No. 5 team in the country and a club many believed had the talent and intangibles to play with anyone in college football -- lost a stunner on the road at Houston. As the 36-10 score indicates, this game wasn’t even close. It was a complete and utter destruction.
So with the Cardinals now out of the playoff picture, what does it mean for everyone else in college football, and specifically the playoff race? Here are the five teams that benefit the most from Louisville’s loss Thursday night.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
Ohio State was a huge benefactor of Louisville’s loss, but we can’t have the Buckeyes higher on this list for one simple reason: They were never really competing for a playoff spot with the Cardinals.
Because the Buckeyes would have had a vastly superior resume if both teams won out, it’s almost certain they would have gotten in over Louisville if both had finished the season as one-loss teams that didn’t win their conference. Instead, the biggest threats to Ohio State are Washington and its fellow Big Ten cohorts (Penn State and Wisconsin).
However, Louisville’s loss still helps the Buckeyes for the simple fact that it’s one fewer team competing with them for one of the final four spots. Urban Meyer’s team will take carnage around it, no matter how it comes.
Getty ImagesAndrew Weber
The Sooners still need a lot of help, but as is the case with Ohio State, any loss by another playoff contender is good for Oklahoma at this point. With two defeats already on their resume, the Sooners need as many teams in front of them to lose as they can. And Louisville is a good one to see fall for Oklahoma fans.
The Cardinals – as a one-loss non-champion – probably would have had a superior resume over Oklahoma had both won out. Now, Louisville is out the picture.
Despite Louisville's loss, Oklahoma still needs a prayer and a miracle to get into the playoff. Not only would the Sooners have to win out (beating one-loss West Virginia and two-loss Oklahoma State in the process), they would also need other teams like Penn State, Ohio State or Washington to lose.
Getty ImagesScott Halleran/Getty Images
West Virginia was actually a huge winner on Thursday night. At 8-1, the Mountaineers can end the season with the strongest resume of any team in the Big 12. And if they were to finish 11-1 (which would include a head-to-head victory over Oklahoma this weekend), they would firmly be in the discussion behind everyone not named Alabama and maybe Clemson.
Even at 11-1, however, West Virginia's resume will still almost certainly be matched up with other teams when picking the final few playoff spots -- and one of those teams is Louisville. At 11-1, the Cardinals probably would have had a pretty comparable resume to the Mountaineers, but thankfully (if you’re a West Virginia fan) you have one fewer team to worry about.
The good news for Washington is that its two best wins could potentially be in front of it, if it were to face a two-loss Washington State club in the Apple Cup and Utah in the Pac-12 title game. Or the chips could fall differently, and neither of those games could mean nearly as much. Which is why Louisville’s loss was so important for U-Dub.
Louisville's loss removes another layer of doubt for Chris Petersen’s club. It also removes a team that some could have argued would have had a stronger resume than the Huskies. Had Louisville won out, its only loss would have been at Clemson, which trumps Washington’s defeat by USC last week.
Still, Washington isn’t out of the woods yet. If Alabama and Clemson both win out, the Huskies will still be measured against a one-loss Ohio State club and potential two-loss Big Ten champ. But Thursday’s Louisville loss certainly helps.
The winner of a potential Penn State-Wisconsin Big Ten title game
This is under the edict that both win out in the regular season and meet in Indianapolis on Dec. 3. If that happens, the winner of that game would finish 11-2 on the season with a conference title under its belt.
It also would have put the committee in a very precarious situation: How do you measure a two-loss conference champion vs. a one-loss non champion (in this case, Louisville)? Especially when that one-loss team’s only loss, came on the road, to a Top 5 team?
It’s a tough question to answer, and thankfully the playoff committee no longer has to. The winner of this hypothetical Big Ten title game would be in great position to get into the playoff. Even with two losses.