Six teams that could cause CFP chaos

LSU, North Carolina, Kansas State and North Carolina enter college football playoff…

No, this is not the start of a joke. Funny as it sounds, these four teams have a shot at making the playoffs with undefeated streaks to end the season.

There has already been a lot of chaos. Tennessee and TCU are the biggest surprises in the sport, but there’s potential for this season to get even wilder.

No. 14 Illinois (7-1, 4-1 in the Big Ten) is in the midst of its best season since 2001. The season could be even more magical if the team wins all of its remaining games. That’s unlikely, as ESPN’s Football Power Index ranks Illinois as the seventh-best team in the Big Ten and gives them just a 0.5% chance of winning. But if they finish the regular season as a one-loss Big Ten champion, Five Thirty Eight gives Illinois a 96% chance of making the playoffs.

No. 15 LSU (6-2, 4-1 in SEC) has a 1.7% chance of winning, but if it does, the Tigers have an 85% chance of finishing in the top four. They aren’t the only unlikely SEC West intruder, as No. 11 Ole Miss (8-1, 4-1 in SEC) has a 66% chance of making the playoffs by winning his remaining games.

With LSU holding the tiebreaker against the Rebels, Ole Miss needs No. 6 Alabama (7-1, 4-1 in the SEC) to win at Baton Rouge on Saturday. That would mean Ole Miss’s meeting with Alabama on Nov. 12 could determine the SEC West champion.

LSU’s inclusion in the college football playoffs would be historic. No CFP-era team has made the playoffs with two losses. The Tigers were the last team to win a championship with two losses when they did so in 2007.

This season, they’re not the only cats to have nine lives.

No. 13 Kansas State (6-2, 4-1 in the Big 12) also has two losses, but after its 48-0 win over No. 18 Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-2 in the Big 12), they have a 66% chance of making the playoffs by winning. The REIT is not confident that will happen, however, as it only gives the state of Kansas a 3.6% chance of doing so. ESPN predicts the Wildcats will lose their next two games, against Texas and at Baylor.

Another potential playoff surprise is No. 17 North Carolina (7-1, 4-0 in the ACC). The Tar Heels are led by one of the best quarterbacks in the country, Drake Maye, and have a 63% chance of making the playoffs if they finish with a loss.

There’s a 4.3% chance of that happening, per FPI, as they are expected to defeat No. 5 Clemson (8-0, 6-0 in ACC) for the ACC Championship. ESPN also gives North Carolina a 53.9% chance of losing its game against No. 20 Wake Forest (6-2, 2-2 in the ACC) on Nov. 12.

There are two Pac-12 teams with more than a 50% chance of making the playoffs by winning, No. 8 Oregon (7-1, 5-0 in Pac-12) and No. 10 UCLA (7-1, 4-1 in Pac-12). They also have the best chance of those second-tier teams to not lose any more games this season.

The FPI gives the Ducks a 13.4% chance of being undefeated to the end and the Bruins a 6.9% chance. Oregon has a 69% chance of making the playoffs in this scenario, while UCLA has a 55% chance of making the semifinals.

With one month remaining in the regular season, there’s still plenty of time for the usual suspects that populate the college football playoffs to once again demonstrate that they’re the best in the sport.

Alabama, No. 1 Georgia (8-0, 5-0 in the SEC), No. 2 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0 in the Big Ten) and Clemson have multiple appearances at the CFP, and most (if not all) will qualify him again this season. With the same teams still rising to the top, there’s a reason the conference commissioners decided to extend the playoffs.

There’s still time for the teams no one expected to be there to make a run that flips the script.

North Carolina and Illinois have a shot at reaching heights they haven’t reached in years. LSU and Kansas State can make history in the era of CFP. Are any of them? The odds suggest they won’t, but the odds are there.

It’s up to them to take advantage of it.

Sports Grp1

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