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College Hotline - Pac-12 football: Playoff path, bowl projections and the Rose Bowl’s choice

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    Five days left, the unknown unknowns have been eliminated, and we’re left with only the known unknowns.

    Stanford is indeed smack in the middle of the playoff discussion, two steps from a possible berth (or so it would seem):

    If the Cardinal beats USC and Clemson loses — I’m going to assume Alabama wins for the purposes of this exercise — then Stanford will be one of a handful of teams contending for the final spot.

    Under a Stanford wins/Clemson loses scenario, five teams would seemingly be in the discussion: Stanford, Ohio State, Iowa (if it loses the B1G title game), North Carolina (win over Clemson) and, let’s not forget, Clemson, which would have only one loss and two top-10 wins.

    You could make a good case that Stanford would have the most compelling resumes: Power 5 champ with a strong SOS, quality wins and a style of play (run-pass balance and offense-defense balance) that the influential voices on the selection committee appreciate.

    The committee has said all along that it values conference titles and strong schedules, and the Cardinal would have a better combination of those qualifications than any other team in the group competing for the last berth under the Clemson-loses scenario.

    The known unknowns in this situation must be accounted for, however, and they are:

    What else the committee will choose to emphasize; whether one of two voices in the room will carry the day; the impact of reputation and brand (i.e., Ohio State); and how much one big win will offset major resume flaws, whether it’s Ohio State’s beat-down of Michigan or a North Carolina victory over Clemson

    Never forget:

    1. There is enough flexibility for the committee to take any course it desires Saturday night/Sunday morning.

    2. Committee chair Jeff Long said in the spring of ’14 that the goal was to pick the best four teams, not the most deserving four teams.

    Our scenarios …


    The Rose Bowl would have a vacancy and the contractual right to fill that vacancy with a Pac-12 team.

    Commissioner Larry Scott said Saturday that the Rose would likely use the playoff rankings to select from the pool of Pac-12 teams, although it would not be bound to follow that script.

    Every indication is that the Rose would pick Oregon, which would be the highest-ranked team available (16th this week), owns the second-best league record (7-2), has won six in a row and just might be one of the four or five best teams in the land right now.

    There is no clause in the contract that states the Rose would have to invite, or even consider, the loser of the Pac-12 title game.

    USC would have five losses under this scenario and isn’t going to Pasadena.

    I suppose the Rose Bowl would consider Utah or Washington State, but the Ducks are much more attractive given how they finished and their brand appeal.


    Then it’s Pasadena for the Cardinal for the third time in four years and everything else falls somewhat neatly into place.

    The Alamo selects Oregon, perhaps with slight hesitation: The Ducks participated two years ago. Ultimately, they’re a more appealing choice than USC, with five losses and possibly unranked.

    The Holiday grabs Washington State and Pullman comes along, filling every hotel room between Encinitas and National City.

    The Foster Farms skips USC, which will have just played in Levi’s Stadium. Instead, UCLA, which has a huge alumni population in the Bay Area, makes the trip to Santa Clara.

    The Sun, which wants no part of USC after its visit three years ago, gets Utah.

    Las Vegas would have to take the Trojans, based on league selection rules.

    The Cactus, perhaps tempted by one of the two bowl-eligible teams inside the state, instead takes Cal, which just beat ASU, has not played in Arizona this season and has a marquee QB.

    Washington and the Arizona schools fill vacancies elsewhere, with proximity a factor — bowls in New Mexico and Texas would be appealing for the Wildcats and Sun Devils, for instance.


    It’s the Rose Bowl for the Trojans and then …

    The common understanding is that teams in the top 12 of the final playoff rankings are eligible for the New Year’s Six. And sure, seventh-ranked Stanford could, conceivably, remain in the top 12.

    Except there aren’t really 12 spots. The Group of Five gets one, and the Sugar has the right to match Big 12 and SEC teams regardless of ranking, just as the Rose would have the right to replace a Big Ten team in the playoff with another Big Ten team.

    Add it all up, and we’re talking about three spots for Power 5 teams in the Peach and Fiesta.

    Stanford would be in a pool with the likes of Florida State, Notre Dame and Ohio State (or the Iowa-Michigan State loser).

    That’s a competition the Cardinal won’t win, especially off a title game loss. So Stanford becomes available to the Pac-12 affiliated games.

    The Alamo, up first, probably takes Oregon: Won the head to head, isn’t coming off a loss, probably travels a bit better, etc.

    In that situation, Stanford could not fall below the Holiday because of league selection rules (there would be more than a one-game difference in record between Stanford and the other options).

    The Foster Farms probably takes UCLA over Utah and Washington State. Again, proximity and the huge UCLA alumni base in the Bay Area would weigh heavily.

    The Sun would have to invite one of the 6-3s (Utah or Washington State), with the other going to Las Vegas.

    The Utes were in Vegas last year, so it would make sense for them to head to El Paso and WSU to hit the Strip.

    From there, it plays out in similar fashion with Cal to the Cactus and the at-large teams headed to points unknown.


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    by Jon Wilner

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