Something to holler about: College football is headed toward a fun six weeks – Washington Post
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Now we veer into one of those zones in which college football is about to leave whatever senses it has and float off into fine nuttiness. Here we go.
There’s going to be a donnybrook of a squabble concerning the Big Ten. There’s going to be a Colorado in the Pacific-12 Championship Game just one season after Colorado finished going 5-40 across five seasons of conference games, and just two seasons after it went 0-9 in conference play. There’s going to be a new coach at Texas, Tom Herman, who briefly on Thursday was reported headed to LSU, a matter reported during an LSU game, which LSU won, at Texas A&M, by 54-39, after which LSU’s athletic director hinted that someone “orchestrated” the rumor.
And there’s a new coach at LSU, native Louisianan Ed Orgeron, who found himself so giddy Saturday morning that he made the one-hour drive for his meeting with Athletic Director Joe Alleva and said, “I had the window down, hollering half the way.”
We’re all about to do some hollering. Next Saturday night in Indianapolis, they’re going to hold a Big Ten Championship Game between two teams who absolutely everyone presumes to be the third- and fourth-best teams in the league. Either No. 7-ranked Penn State (10-2) or No. 6 Wisconsin (10-2) will win, and that team presumably will become the Big Ten champion, even though one of them (Wisconsin) lost to both the most-fancied two teams (Ohio State, Michigan), and the other (Penn State) got mauled by one (Michigan) and upset the other (Ohio State) on a blocked-field-goal return.
Okay. At the same time, we also have this three-year-old concept of the College Football Playoff, its four annual participants decided by a 12-member committee sitting in a boardroom at a gaudy hotel near the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and sometimes you can type these sentences over and over while still having trouble believing them. The committee, which meets privately, has given ample evidence that it prizes conference champions.
Yet as we begin this coming week with the forecast calling for emotion and messiness and maybe even bad vibes, there’s reason to believe that the committee might award a playoff spot to Ohio State (11-1), which holds down the No. 2 spot but did not win its division, the Big Ten East. This might happen even if Penn State defeats Wisconsin. And this reinforces that if you have ever tried to explain this sport to people from the other side of the world, you know that you can’t.
Back and forth the wrangling will go. On the one side, a conference champion! On the other, Ohio State! But Penn State has two losses, Ohio State one. But Ohio State’s one is to Penn State. There’s even a chance that, during this argument that precedes any outcome, Wisconsin will feel slighted.
There’ll be passages like the one the senior Ohio State guard Pat Elflein used Saturday: “Our wins on the road against top-10 teams.”
One team beat the other yet the other team is better according to almost everyone, and Ohio State has wins on the road against No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 6 Wisconsin. It can sit making its case because it weathered one of the damnedest games anyone ever saw on Saturday afternoon, a double-overtime football carnival crammed with so many notable things that you could go on for 10 minutes without remembering Michigan’s fumbled snap at the 1-yard line or Ohio State’s failed fake punt from the 19-yard line, or that Ohio State had only 57 passing yards through three quarters, or that Ohio State suffered only two penalties for six yards.
Then finally, we’re here at this juncture because a quarterback (J.T. Barrett) tried to get one yard on fourth down in the second overtime with Michigan ahead 27-24. He squeezed his way through a tackle on his left. He banged into a tight end’s rear end. He fell backward, with his forward progress somewhere in the ether. On some video replays, Barrett appeared stopped shy. On other video replays, he appeared to have just enough, somewhere there in the air. Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh signaled no first down. The officials signaled a first down. They play went to review. Michigan players celebrated a very possible win.