Early November’s hot college football buzzword “elimination game” will prove to be less than prophetic as one or two teams previously pronounced dead will rise to the playoffs.
Over the last two weeks the trendy buzzword in college football has been the phrase “elimination game.” All manner of talking heads have suddenly started spouting with unbridled glee that this game is an elimination game and that game is an elimination game. It is a substitute for real thinking. The fact of the matter is that it is too early to have a real elimination game. If you notice, the coaches have been distancing themselves from the words “elimination game.” The coaches have it right.
All of the teams in contention right now still have major regular season games on their schedule. Most of these still have three regular season games left. A few have two left. In many cases, the games left are among the toughest of the year, if not the toughest. To pronounce games at the beginning of November as an elimination game is absurd.
Every year November produces many major head to head clashes, losses, upsets, and changes atop the standings. These are all going to go down to the final weekend of the regular season.
On top of that are the conference championship games in four of the five power conferences with the lone exception being the Big 12. If you want to safely talk about an elimination game, those conference championship games fit the bill. The loser of a conference championship game, no matter how highly ranked going in, is not likely coming out of that to make the four team playoff.
People may be surprised when a team or two with two losses start coming back into the playoff picture. These will be teams who have previously been dismissed as being eliminated. For some reason the talking heads seem to always act like every top team is going to run the table and never suffer a loss. November has a way of putting a lie to that line of thinking, or lack thereof. Not only are there major rivalry games at the end of the season, but there is always the chance of the odd upset. Hello, Texas A&M at Auburn. Additionally, really freaky upsets tend to come out of nowhere and are the least expected and predictable. Top teams have great big targets on their backs. They can be caught overlooking a weak conference opponent and get bitten for it. They can be caught looking ahead to the conference championship games or to the playoffs. These big mistakes can and do happen, especially when least expected and when the consensus is with the favorite. They always seem to come out of the blue.
Take a look at all the tough games each undefeated or one loss major contender has left. Some are tougher than others, but beware the weird upset.
Mississippi State: At Alabama, Vanderbilt, at Mississippi, possible SEC Championship game.
Florida State: At Miami, Boston College, Florida, possible ACC Championship game.
Oregon: Colorado, at Oregon State, PAC 12 Championship game.
Alabama: Mississippi State, Western Carolina, Auburn, possible SEC Championship game.
TCU: At Kansas, at Texas, Iowa State.
Baylor: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State.
Arizona State: At Oregon State, Washington State, at Arizona, possible Pac 12 Championship game.
Ohio State: At Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, possible Big 10 Championship game.
Nebraska: At Wisconsin, Minnesota, at Iowa, possible Big 10 Championship game.
So don’t be surprised if one or two conference championship game winners with two losses emerge. This is not over for two loss teams that run the table from here out. And don’t be surprised to see some two loss team in the playoffs that had been so gleefully dismissed by the moronic talking heads with their early November elimination game prattle. November is a brutal month in college football. Contenders fall by the wayside. This will be especially true when talking about narrowing things down to four contenders. This is far from over. Two loss teams are not out of it yet. Highly motivated underdogs teams pull upsets in November, especially in rivalry games. Pronouncing teams done at the beginning of November is absurd. There will be plenty of losses all around in November. And like November itself, it happens every year in college football.