You could feel an Oregon loss coming at some point, and did it ever come on Saturday night in Salt Lake City, a 38-7 thrashing by No. 23 Utah which means that for the fifth straight season, the Pac-12 will not have a representative in the College Football Playoff.
It also means that a choice is shaping up for whom a college football fan views as the lesser of two evils, Alabama or Notre Dame.
Here’s how it’s shaping up. Barring an absolute calamity (losing to both Georgia Tech next week and Alabama in the SEC title game), Georgia is in. The winner of Ohio State-Michigan, assuming that team wins the Big Ten championship game, is in. And if Cincinnati finishes undefeated, with wins over Notre Dame, SMU, and Houston for the AAC crown, then the Bearcats are in, too.
That leaves one spot, and with Alabama having two losses and Notre Dame only one, it would seemingly have to be the Irish — especially because in that case, Notre Dame would face Georgia instead of Alabama having a rematch with the Bulldogs.
But… what if Alabama beats Georgia? They’d have a win over Georgia, probably rise to No. 1, and then you’d have the Big Ten champ to go with the pair of SEC teams, along with Cincinnati and a team that Cincinnati beat head-to-head — and in this case, it’s a Bearcats team that finished strong with wins over the next-best teams on its schedule, while Notre Dame wraps up next week with Stanford. The committee could not legitimately rank Notre Dame over an undefeated Cincinnati. (They might anyway.) They just couldn’t.
So, when the SEC title game comes, you’re either rooting for Alabama or Notre Dame. Isn’t that delightful?
Oh, and if Cincinnati loses a game, or the Big Ten West survivor (Minnesota is still somehow alive) pulls off the title game win, well, we’re all doomed, aren’t we?
Cal beat Stanford, 41-11, in what would have been the only game of the season that mattered for either team had the Cardinal not pulled off its upset of Oregon.
Forget that, though, yesterday marked exactly 39 years since the Band Play.
It still hasn’t gotten old.