By: Donnie Menke ~Staff Writer~
College football is nearing the end of the season, and it’s starting to get heated among playoff contenders. With No. 1 Alabama as the only virtual lock, three other spots remain up for grabs.
This past weekend produced one of the most chaotic scenarios imaginable, as second-ranked Clemson, third-ranked Michigan and fourth-ranked Washington were all upset.
This is the first time since 1985 that the second-, third- and fourth- ranked teams all lost in the same week.
The losses create a lot of chaos and confusion for the playoff committee. These were three of the four teams that would have made the playoffs had they all won out.
There are still meaningful regular season games to be played that will help determine the playoff picture, but the waters are murkier than they were one week ago.
The Michigan loss triggered possibly the toughest question: who should come out of the Big Ten for the playoff? Because Michigan lost to Iowa, there is a three-way tie for the Big Ten East division. Those three teams are Ohio State (ranked second), Michigan (ranked third) and Penn State (ranked eighth).
If Michigan were to win out, which would mean a victory against Ohio State on Nov. 26, it would advance to the conference championship game, as it would win the tiebreaker with Penn State.
Penn State can advance to the conference championship game if it wins out and Ohio State beats Michigan.
Ohio State only advances to the conference championship game if it wins out and Penn State losses. However, it is not guaranteed any of these teams would win, as Wisconsin (ranked seventh) is the favorite to win the Big Ten West and has a very good chance to beat the East opponent in the conference title game.
The other scenarios are not nearly as complex, but they do create debate. Washington, despite the loss, is still the highest ranked team in the Pac-12 conference. However, because of the loss, it would need to beat Arizona State this coming weekend and beat rival Washington State on Nov. 25, who currently leads the North Division in the Pac-12.
Clemson and Louisville are directly linked to each other, as they both play in the ACC and Clemson handed Louisville its only loss of the season.
Louisville, having no conference games remaining, must rely on a Clemson loss in its final conference game to make the ACC title bout.
If both teams drop another game, their playoff hopes will go down the drain.
The clear frontrunner for the Heisman is Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is no longer described as someone on a hot streak.
Should Jackson keep up his current pace, he is a lock for the trophy. He is currently on pace for 32 passing touchdowns and more than 22 rushing touchdowns, as well as 3,477 passing yards and 1,600 rushing yards. This could be a factor in Louisville potentially getting a playoff spot over other teams.
Another Heisman contender is Michigan athlete Jabrill Peppers. Athlete is the term used because Peppers can play just about every position on the football field. He primarily plays defense as a cornerback but has also played safety, linebacker, running back, wide receiver, both punt and kick returner and even quarterback. However, the fact that he is primarily a defensive player may limit his Heisman chances.
The final true Heisman contender is Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. A Heisman finalist last year, Watson is on pace to throw the same number of touchdowns as Jackson but for more yards. Where Watson falls short of Jackson is his running, as he has only rushed for 378 yards and two touchdowns to this point in the season.