During the BCS era chaos was the name of the game because it helped bring in the playoff era, but even though the playoffs are here (on a smaller scale than I’d prefer). That does not mean chaos should not happen. There is a chance that there is some chaos who makes the four-team bracket.
There is also could be some chaos from who the Group of Five team that earns the automatic bid to the Cotton Bowl. Right now, the top to ranked teams in the College Football Playoff rankings are Boise State (19) and Houston (20).
The Broncos need help to get to the Mountain West title game and Houston is eliminated since they can not win the AAC and a conference title is a requirement to get to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Now onto the chaos, and it is only sort of chaos if the Cougars and Broncos are ranked below Western Michigan who might earn the auto bid from the Group of Five.
Now on to the chaos.
Western Michigan takes on a very good Toledo team, and the Broncos are an 8.5-point favorite. It is not out of the question that the Rockets who are 9-2 can upset the Broncos and head to the MAC title game instead.
The title game could be Toledo vs. Ohio and to make chaos even further lets say Ohio wins the MAC then they are 9-4.
Chaos in this league would mean Wyoming loses its final game to New Mexico, but still finds its way to the title game and then tops San Diego State to finish with an 9-4 record.
American Athletic Conference
There are a few scenarios in where the AAC can get real weird and mess up a lot of things. Right now the title game is Navy vs. either Temple or South Florida — the Owls get the nod if they win or even if they lose and the Bulls also lose.
In the East division where there is still something to fight for that champion could be Temple who could win the American with either a 10-3 record or a 9-4 record, and South Florida can finish 11-2 if either win the league.
Navy already had things wrapped up in the West but they still play SMU who is 5-6 but they also beat Houston earlier in the year. The Midshipman are likely to win as they are ranked the 25th team in the College Football Playoff poll and are favored by a touchdown on the road. However, since we are looking at the most chaotic position possible, the Midshipmen could be 8-3 if they lose to SMU and then 9-3 if they then win the conference. Best case is 10-2 and win the AAC.
There is one more wrinkle to this mess. Lets say Western Michigan does not win the MAC and Boise State does not win the Mountain West. That would put Navy in line to take the New Year’s Six bowl game as they can win the American with a 10-2 record, but they still have to play Army on Dec. 10.
The playoff committee has said if Navy is in the mix for a big time bowl game then the decision would be delayed. Navy has won 14 in a row against Army and a win seems likely but what happens if the Midshipmen are in line for the Cotton Bowl and lose?
Couple in the possible scenarios above where Ohio wins the MAC at 9-4, Wyoming wins the Mountain West with four loses as well and then you have Navy who could have either be either 9-4 or 10-3 as the AAC champion.
Could the auto-big then go to the Sun Belt champion?
Right now Arkansas State is in first-place in the league after they thumped Troy and could win the league with an 8-4 or even a 7-5 record. Appalachian State could be in the mix since they did not play the Red Wolves this year, but even they would have a 9-3 record.
(Editors note: There was no clear rules on their tiebreaker since they expanded to 11 teams)
Troy has a chance to win the league at 10-2 if they win their final two games coupled with Arkansas State losing their final two games. Appalachian State can win the Sun Belt if they win their final game and then Troy loses one of their final two.
Worst Case scenario conference champions
MAC champion: Ohio 9-4
Mountain West champion: Wyoming 9-4
American champion: Navy 9-4
Sun Belt champion: Troy 10-2, Arkansas State 8-4 or Appalachian State 9-3
Conference USA: Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion or a Western Kentucky team at 10-3 or a 9-4 La. Tech or Western Kentucky.
Would the playoff committee take the two-loss Troy team that won the Sun Belt? This would be an extreme case for the playoff committee.
This would mean that Houston could be in the top 20 and be left out of earning a bit to the Cotton Bowl. One more scenario (sorry for the headaches this is causing) but if Wyoming finishes 10-3 and beats New Mexico this week and Boise State wins as well then the Broncos could also be in the top 20 and left out.
A 10-3 Wyoming team might be better than a 10-2 Troy team since the Cowboys beat two ranked teams, but still not ideal for the playoff committee.
Maybe if this chaos does go crazy it might have the committee change the rule that a conference champion is not required since that is not a requirement to earn a spot in the four team playoff.
That is not my decision to make but it is probably a good idea to just go with the highest rated team from Group of Five.
Regardless, lets have some chaos.