Rankman's Saturday night wrap: Let the playoff posturing begin! (Wait...it's already starting?)

Last week was crazy because three teams in the top five lost and the national needle barely nudged.

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It was like a giant game of “footsie.”

Clemson lost at home and dropped two spots to No. 4, Michigan lost and stayed at No. 3 and Washington lost and nose-dived all the way from four to... six.

How do you recover from these kind of calamities?

Answer: wake up the next day.

This week was crazy because only one top-10 team lost, No. 5 Louisville, but it created about the same amount of ranking yawns.

One of these weeks, I swear, we’re going to be able to distinguish the difference between winning and losing.

The Big Ten is so beloved, top-heavy and politically connected it really doesn’t matter at this point what their teams do.

Ohio State nearly lost Saturday at mushy Michigan State—but it was no sweat. The Buckeyes won’t budge off their No. 2 perch as people make the case they don’t even have to win their division to make the four-team playoff.

For this we can thank Spartans’ Coach Mark Dantonio, working on behalf of the larger Big Ten cause.

Michigan State had a chance to tie Ohio State, 17-all, with plenty of time in its game at East Lansing.

Coach D, though, opted to go for two, and failed, which handed Ohio State a critical "data point" in this playoff puzzle.

Michigan lost last week at Iowa and struggled Saturday to beat Flimsy-ana by 10. This one was at home, too, at the Big House.

Michigan’s wobble won’t even register on the Schembechler scale. The Wolverines will likely stay at No. 3 this week—that’s just the way these things work.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

A couple side tracks before we get back to top-10 meanderings:

--Texas lost in overtime, 24-21, to one of the worst Kansas teams ever fielded in a field house, which almost certainly spells doom for Longhorns’ Coach Charlie Strong. Too bad. Nice guy. Won at Louisville, but a 16-20 record at Texas, paired with a lousy wine and losing to Kansas for the first time since 1938, means the head coach is in a Depression. One ESPN headline said it all: “Texas getting extreme pressure from boosters to hire Tom Herman.”

So there you have it. The Herman Derby, put on hold after his Houston Cougars lost to Southern Methodist, which lost at home Saturday to South Florida (But Covered The Spread!), is back on again.

--Poor LSU Coach Ed Orgeron. He is now Coach 0-2 when it comes to winning big games to get the “interim” tag ripped from his shirt. A win over UCLA would have earned Eddy Bear the USC job he took over for Lane Kiffin, but UCLA won. And Saturday seemed like the day a LSU home win over Florida might secure Orgeron the job in Baton Rouge.

It came down to a fourth-and-goal at the Florida one. Then LSU's fail-back ran the wrong way on the hand-off and the Gators prevailed, 16-10.

Florida clinched the SEC East with the win and will face Alabama for the conference title. That’s right, citizens, all the SEC drama is over. Alabama can lose the Iron Bowl next week against Auburn and still make the playoff by defeating Florida.

--Oregon pulled out a miracle at Utah, winning on the greatest, last-second catch Darren Carrington will ever make. Too bad he got benched with a rules violation before the Ducks' national title game against Ohio State. Marcus Mariota could have used that kind of magical toe-dance in a game that really counted. Will Saturday's win save Mark Helfrich's job? We say no, unless Oregon goes "Cumberland" on Oregon State, 220-0.

Back to top-10 machinations. Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson will likely hold their places in Tuesday’s fourth release of the College Football Playoff ranking.

Washington should take Louisville’s spot at No. 5, with Wisconsin, Penn State, Oklahoma and Colorado filing in behind in line.

How long will this last?

The rest of this playoff race may turn into a political spit contest as networks and announcers align with their favorite candidates.

ABC, which was broadcasting Oklahoma’s snow-blow win at West Virginia, spent its time advocating for the two-loss Sooners.

There is already a faction out there working against ANY Pac 12 champion—even one-loss champion Washington.

ABC analyst Kirk Herbstreit made the point that Oklahoma has two quality losses—to Ohio State and Houston—while Washington played “Idaho and Portland.”

Washington also played Rutgers, which was allowed to join the Big Ten and be outscored, 224-0, this year, by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.

Washington, IF it’s good enough to beat Washington State next week, will also have played a 13th event called a “conference championship” game, which the Big 12 does not (yet) play.

The angle keeping Washington out is Ohio State beating Michigan next week but not winning the Big Ten East because it lost to Penn State. The Nittany Lions win the East next week if they beat Michigan State and Ohio State beats Michigan.

The argument is the Big Ten might get two teams in that scenario, bumping out the left-coasters. Why not? We can handle it.

But it is funny. Last year, Stanford was top four worthy except for the fact it lost two games. Hey, tough break, what are you going to do?

This year, though, a two-loss NON champion might edge out a one-loss Pac 12 title holder because, well, you know.

As I tell my friends over at Andy Gump portable toilets: let's see how it all flushes out. Some network folks, who are more simpatico with the Pac 12, almost guaranteed one-loss Washington would be in if it won the conference title.

The only people who really know reside behind the walls of a posh hotel near DFW Airport—the selection committee.

Next week should be a hoot. Colorado scored an impressive home win against Washington State and now needs “only” to beat Utah in Boulder to win the Pac 12 South.

What a story for a program that could hardly tie its shoes the last few years. And no one is even considering two-loss Colorado making the playoff, even though the two-loss Buffaloes lost WAY better to Michigan than two-loss Penn State.

And what of USC, which rolled over UCLA on Saturday night but can’t win the Pac 12 South unless Utah beats Colorado next week?

The three-loss Trojans are clearly, now, one of the better teams in the country.

If they somehow win the Pac 12, would the selection committee dare consider USC for a playoff spot?

Probably not.

Alas, these things always tend to work themselves out.

Or, don’t.[/membership]

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