Rankman's Saturday Night Wrap: A long day's journey into playoff committee chaos

It was the kind of channel-flip day you dream up for late November—well worth the risk of carpel tunnel syndrome.

Wake up, make coffee, plop lap-top computer onto self on living-room recliner. Put blanket between computer and lap to minimize radiation risk.

Position TV remote near left thigh and computer mouse near right. Note pad? Check. Ball-point pen? Check. Athlon’s 2016 College Football Preview. Yes.

Current copy of latest College Football Playoff ranking? Yes. Latest Las Vegas lines on point-spreads? Covered.

“Honey, hold my calls and tell the Mormons this is the wrong Saturday to come-a-knockin’ for my soul.”

Seven (AM), Eight (AM), Nine (AM)…Blast off Michigan at Ohio State.

Any Saturday that features Jim Harbaugh breaking his headsets on the ground and charging afterward--“I was bitterly disappointed with the officiating”—is worth the price of a cable bill.

That and USC players, 10 hours later, sitting around hoping Utah could do them a football favor. (Fat chance).

Not only did Michigan at Ohio State NOT disappoint, a grammar double negative normally to be avoided, but the game in Columbus set off a number of “data point” dominoes.

Ohio State’s win, 30-27, in double-OT, will be rehashed for years. It was more tension-filled than it was well-played, but all that was forgotten when Michigan thought it had won on a fourth-and-one stop in the second overtime.

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett either did-or did not-reach the line to gain that allowed the Buckeyes to win the game on the next play.

How big was this?

That inch of referee’s discretion likely clinched a playoff spot for No. 2 Ohio State as it knocked No.3 Michigan out of the playoff.

Harbaugh was so miffed he might open a satellite camp Sunday in commissioner Jim Delany’s office.

Conspiracy theorists will posit the Big Ten wanted Ohio State to win because it kept alive the conference getting two playoff teams.

It should be noted Michigan outplayed Ohio State for most of the game and could have won by double digits had its quarterback taken better care of the ball. And by “better” we mean not fumbling at the two, throwing a pick-six and one other interception that led directly to another score.

Bo and Woody would have cringed at the reckless ball protection and inefficiency at quarterback.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

It’s a good thing Harbaugh makes $9 million a year, too, because he’s probably going to take a wallet hit from the Big Ten bean counters. He had some legitimate gripes, while my instant replay review booth thought Michigan stopped Barrett short—but no one listens to me.

The pending result was HUGE. It meant Penn State could win the Big Ten East with a home win over 3-8 Michigan State. It was a competitive game in Happy Valley until fans there got wind of the Ohio State result.

Penn State shifted into championship gear and drove the Spartans back to East Sparta. Penn State clinched the East because it beat Ohio State this season.

Penn State now plays Wisconsin next week for the Big Ten crown. Both schools have two losses but the winner will make a claim for one of the four playoff spots.

Ohio State is already No.2, and now gets to sit next week out.

The selection committee, for clarity and controversy purposes, could have used a Michigan win to send the Harbaughs to the Big Ten title game and produce a one-bid conference.

No such luck.

The result now puts the committee in a pickle if Alabama, Penn State (or Wisconsin), Clemson and Washington win their respective leagues next weekend?

Will the committee put a two-loss champion in the playoff ahead of the one-loss Pac champion?

This would be the opposite of what it did last year, when it left two-loss Stanford out in favor of a one-loss champion.

Pardon us out west for thinking the Pac 12 will get nickel and dimed again. The committee tipped its hand the first week by putting one-loss Texas A&M at No. 4 ahead of undefeated Washington. Texas A&M lost its fourth game on Thanksgiving Day.

Washington is coming off an impressive, 45-17, win over Washington State in Friday’s Apple Cup. Michigan’s second loss should put the Huskies in the top four on Tuesday…but what about next week?

It seems one-loss Washington would have the advantage over two-loss Wisconsin, but what about two-loss Penn State, which handed Ohio State its only loss?

Penn State also lost to Pitt, which allowed 61 points to Syracuse on Saturday, and lost by 39 to Michigan.

Nothing that Washington needed Saturday, though, happened. The Huskies probably wanted a rematch against USC to avenge their only defeat.

Colorado, though, clinched the Pac South with a 27-22 win over Utah. The Utes did not help USC, which finished second in the division.

The selection committee has a big crush on USC, so we’re not sure what it might think about Washington beating Colorado.

If that even happens. Colorado just completed one of the biggest turnarounds in history, winning the South after going 5-40 in league play its first five years.

The Buffaloes are in their first conference title game since 2005, when they lost the Big 12 to Texas, 70-3.

It should be an interesting weekend.

How could Ohio State drop from No. 2 if it doesn’t play? (it won't)

How can you leave the Pac 12 champ out? (it might)

What about Oklahoma? (Who?)

The first year of the playoff, the committee dropped TCU from third to sixth after a 55-3 win over Iowa State—but this is different.

This potential mess could be helped by Virginia Tech beating Clemson in next week’s ACC title game, or Washington losing in Friday’s Pac 12 title game in Santa Clara.

There are still enough disaster scenarios out there, though, to keep us all on the edge of our couches.

Like it or not, though, this regular season has got to end sometime. Time's almost up.[/membership]

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