While chaos struck the Big Ten, the ACC avoided its own. Instead a dose of sweet clarity came on the first weekend of November as the status quo held in Raleigh and Coral Gables.
In a best-case scenario kind of Saturday when it comes to College Football Playoff aspirations, No. 4 Clemson edged No. 20 NC State 38-21 and 10th-ranked Miami beat No. 13 Virginia Tech 28-10, keeping the Tigers and Hurricanes on a collision course for the conference title game.
The reality is, a win by the two-loss Wolfpack over Clemson or to a lesser degree Virginia Tech -- which already lost to the Tigers in demoralizing fashion back in September -- beating unbeaten Miami, could have put a damper on the league's bid to appear in every playoff.
Instead, things got that much simpler on a Saturday that wasn't, especially for the Big Ten.
No. 6 Ohio State, fresh off its win over then-No. 2 Penn State, was demolished by unranked Iowa 55-24. Then the Nittany Lions, with a chance to revitalize their own playoff hopes, were victim of a last-second field goal in falling at No. 24 Michigan State 27-24.
That conference's hopes -- unless further chaos reigns supreme -- now lie with No. 9 Wisconsin. The Badgers, who are now 9-0 after thumping Indiana 45-17, haven't received much love from the playoff selection committee, though. With a 68th-ranked schedule per NCAA.org's metrics (which is based on past and future opponents' winning percentage) that includes zero Top-25 teams, the Badgers are guaranteed to meet at least a two-loss team in the Big Ten's Championship Game in its last chance to win over the 13-member CFP panel.
It could have been a somewhat similar story in the ACC had the Wolfpack knocked off Clemson and Miami improved to 8-0 vs. the Hokies.
The Hurricanes, with a 38th-ranked schedule that before Saturday didn't boast a single win over a ranked team, weren't receiving much respect from the CFP either, hence sitting behind six one-loss teams.
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That surely changed in taking down Virginia Tech with Mark Richt and Co.'s most impressive performance of the season. A defense that flossed the Turnover Chain four times and three Malik Rosier touchdowns led in dominating the Hokies, and Miami's resume will only be amplified if it can beat No. 3 Notre Dame next Saturday night.
But the Hurricanes may not have emerged as big of a threat for the playoff if the Atlantic Division produced a two-loss champion.
With the Tigers' win over NC State -- secured by K'Von Wallace picking off Ryan Finley on the final play of the game -- they now need just beat Florida State on Nov. 11, or see the Wolfpack drop one of their last three games against Boston College, Wake Forest or North Carolina and the division is theirs yet again.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes can claim their first Coastal Division title as early as next weekend should Virginia -- which reached 6-3 and 3-2 in ACC play -- lose at Louisville. Otherwise, Miami can finish the job itself a week later when it hosts the Cavaliers on Nov. 18.
The potential is there for a one-loss Clemson vs. the unbeaten Hurricanes (or the one-loss Hurricanes, should they fall to the Fighting Irish) in Charlotte, a scenario that makes it seem very, very likely that either way, the league's winner will earn a spot in the sport's final four.
No, it's no guarantee, but it's a straight path the playoff, with two contenders. That is certainly more than the Big Ten has to hold on to after a chaotic open to the final month of the regular season.