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College football world turned upside down by new changes

WED. | 10-13-21 | SPORTS

     Through six weeks of gameplay, the entire college football world has been flipped on its head. From huge upsets to player compensation rules, this season is completely different from years past.

     The weekend of Sept. 30, the craziness of the season truly began when Clemson University, the number three team in the nation at the time, went down to an unranked North Carolina State University. With this loss Clemson dropped all the way to 25 in the Associated Press (AP) poll, the lowest they have been ranked since 2016. This was their second loss of the season, as in week one they faced the University of Georgia who beat them 10-3. With these two showings, Clemson set the tone for the immense differences this season will contain.

     Alongside Clemson and Georgia, the top tier of college football usually consists of the University of Alabama, the Ohio State University and Oklahoma University. Since the College Football Playoff (CFP) era began, when four teams played a tournament to crown a national champion, these five teams have accounted for 21 of the 28 slots over the seven year period. This year however, Georgia and Oklahoma are the only two teams who remain undefeated and five of Oklahoma’s six wins have been won by single digits. 

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Graphic by Keller Fraley

     In the Southeastern Conference (SEC), Georgia may be the only team comfortable where they are. The other top dogs of the conference are all in uncharted territories; the University of Kentucky is undefeated and Alabama lost to an unranked opponent for the first time since 2007 when Texas A&M University toppled the dynasty on Oct. 9. Filing in behind Alabama is Ole Miss, who Alabama has already beaten but proved themselves after beating Arkansas in a 52-51 shootout on Saturday Oct.9 as the SEC swings into conference play it is clear that one of their teams will be a shoe-in for the playoff come December.

     Who the other three teams will be is still a mystery. If the season ended today we would see the familiar faces of Georgia and Oklahoma who are ranked one and four, but newcomers Iowa and Cincinnati would come in at two and three. Iowa’s playoff resume is iffy in my opinion as their best win came this weekend against Penn State, who played most of the game with a backup quarterback. They have a good chance to win out until the Big 10 Championship game where they will most likely see Ohio State. If they can win that game it will be impossible to keep them out of the playoff. Cincinnati has a good resume including a big win against Notre Dame. Like Iowa they also have a good chance at winning out but as a non-power five team, any loss will knock them way out of playoff contention. Oklahoma has the most difficult remaining schedule and they will most likely lose a game or two.

     So who gets that 4th spot? We can see Georgia looks good rolling over every team they play and even if they do not win the SEC Championship they have a clear path to win out. The second spot in the playoff will go to the Big 10 Champion as long as they only have one loss. This should be either Iowa, Ohio State or Michigan depending on the remainder of their seasons. Then Cincinnati would be the third overall seed, becoming the first non-power five team to make the CFP. Say someone overtakes Clemson in the ACC; do they get in? Does a one-loss Alabama or Ole Miss team make it if they win the SEC? Or does a dark horse come out of the Pac-12?

     The playoff picture may look nearly clear, but there are still tons of games to play and there is an insanely low chance both Iowa and Cincinnati will remain undefeated throughout the regular season. So who’s to say any of my three so-called locks will even be close to the CFP at the end of the year. There is no telling; we are just lucky enough to get to sit back and watch.

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