Clarity. We got clarity.
On the last week of the regular season, the race to the playoffs finally cleared up. Why?
Because the major players cleaned up on the competition.
Unbeatens Michigan and TCU clocked their opponents by large margins Saturday as the Wolverines trounced undefeated Ohio State on the road and the Horned Frogs basically ended any suspense — and any doubts about them — in the opening quarter against Iowa State.
USC has lost a game but easily subdued Notre Dame to certainly advance into the top four of Tuesday night’s College Football Playoff standings. Georgia, meanwhile, took care of business against vastly improved Georgia Tech.
I gave serious consideration to supplanting the Bulldogs with Hail to the Victors on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot, but Michigan’s body of work just doesn’t quite measure up to Georgia’s.
Consider that Kirby Smart’s bunch drilled a really good Oregon team by 46 points in the opening week, clobbered by 41 a South Carolina team that is now showing teeth with consecutive wins over Tennessee and Clemson, crushed those same Volunteers (who had Hendon Hooker at the time) by a misleading 14-point margin and drilled an eight-win Mississippi State club by 26.
Don’t get me wrong. Michigan’s good. Damn good. And so are TCU and USC, which makes the CFP shape up as one entertaining postseason.
But Jim Harbaugh’s crew has beaten only five teams with winning records — Iowa and Maryland are both 7-5 — and they whipped three teams in nonconference play (Colorado State, Hawaii, UConn) that are a collective 12-25.
In a perfect world, several teams were eliminated from the playoff chase this weekend, but we all know the college football world is far from perfect. Otherwise, the Buckeyes would be eliminated from consideration. You can’t lose that bad at home and still get in the playoffs. Right?
But because of Ohio State's brand, you just know in your heart that if TCU falls to Kansas State or if USC loses in a rematch with Utah in the conference championship games, the Buckeyes would slip right into the Final Four because the selection committee would say the i-dotters have a strong body of work, pretty stickers on their helmets, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, a proven coach with a fine beard and great TV ratings.
Does anyone really doubt that?
I did vault Texas to No. 19 after its sixth win in its last eight games, inserted Purdue at No. 25 and dropped North Carolina, Cincinnati and Ole Miss off my ballot.
I do think Georgia is in even if LSU somehow crushes the Dawgs, which they won’t. If Georgia loses in the SEC title game, it should fall to maybe No. 3. But would the committee dare to put in Brian Kelly’s Tigers if TCU or USC loses after looking so helpless against the Aggies? And what if Purdue pulls off a miraculous upset of Michigan?
I’d say Georgia and Michigan would be Nos. 3 and 4 with a victorious TCU No. 1 and USC No. 2.
College football almost always provides some degree of chaos at the end of the season, so expect the unexpected.
If Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC all lose, could we see LSU, Purdue, Kansas State and Utah in the Final Four? Nah. The committee wouldn’t go that far off the reservation. Would it? Nah, because Ohio State would have a place.
Kirk Bohls' ballot
5. Ohio State
8. Penn State
9. Kansas State
13. Oregon State
16. South Carolina
18. Florida State
20. Notre Dame
21. North Carolina State
24. Central Florida
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Will the College Football Playoff provide chaos or clarity?