Ian Malcolm of the ‘Jurassic Park’ films may be the philosopher who gave notoriety to chaos theory. The movies never delved into whether Malcolm was a fan of college football, but anybody that has followed the sport for an extended period knows all about how chaos and its potential seemingly around every corner on Saturdays.
We saw that unfold in Week 10 with both Clemson and Alabama, which have a combined 13 playoff appearances in the previous eight seasons, falling in shocking fashion. While the Tigers may still have title hopes hanging by a thread, it’s doubtful the Crimson Tide have any path back unless, well, chaos ensues. Those games coupled with a convincing loss by Tennessee at the hands of Georgia have made race for the semifinals completely up for grabs.
The Pac-12 looks best positioned to take advantage of the situation with three one-loss teams in the mix and the almost certainty of two reaching the conference championship game if Oregon beats Utah at home Nov. 19. Should that scenario play out, the winner of the league title would be a lock for the field and signs point to the Ducks being the ones that prevail.
TCU also has a great opportunity with a 9-0 record and some margin for error. Even a loss during the regular season – most likely this week at Texas – wouldn’t kill the Horned Frogs. They could still run the table and make the Big 12 title game. A win there – again most likely against the Longhorns – would provide a strong resume to stack up non-champions with one loss
So with this exercise being about trying to forecast the outcome with the best probability, we’ve landed on two new teams entering the top four, but with a tremendous amount of uncertain ahead.
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Other changes in the New Year’s Six game have Clemson dropping to the Orange and Tennessee to the Sugar. Texas moves up to the Sugar with the Big 12 needed a replacement there. Cincinnati pushes out Boise State for the Group of Five berth. The choice should come down to the American Athletic winner and the Bearcats are a slight favorite over Tulane and Central Florida.
Note: An asterisk indicates a school that has replaced a conference pick.