Rivalries were settled. Statements were made. Dreams were either advanced or dashed.
Week 13 in college football had a little bit of everything, including the game of the year.
Before we get to the week that will decide the fate of the College Football Playoff, however, let’s take a look back on Week 13 and how it affected both the Amway Coaches Poll and the Bleacher Report rankings.
In any other week, the discussion from Saturday may have been the spate of upsets in the Top 25. Or perhaps Alabama flattening Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Or the head-coaching changes that have either already happened or now seem imminent.
But those weren’t the stories Saturday. And they weren’t the stories because Ohio State played Michigan in an instant classic that sent reverberations throughout the college football landscape.
The Buckeyes prevailed 30-27 in double overtime. Ohio State fans will remember it as the game where their team slowly and methodically took control in the second half after Michigan held a vice grip on the proceedings in the first frame, with J.T. Barrett’s running ability serving as the key component in the comeback.
Michigan fans, meanwhile, may remember the game as one they lost due to a number of untimely turnovers and some questionable calls from the referees.
And neutral viewers will recall the best game of the 2016 season and one that neither team deserved to lose.
But a winner had to be picked, and the fact it was Ohio State was crucial on a number of fronts. The Buckeyes’ win, combined with a Penn State victory, meant that the Nittany Lions earned a trip to the Big Ten title game to face Wisconsin.
The victory also almost virtually guaranteed Ohio State’s placement in the College Football Playoff; its resume includes wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan and a lone loss against Penn State on the road.
Despite the lack of a Big Ten title, it’s hard to imagine the committee keeping out the team with the best resume in college football.
Not even Alabama can boast the quality of Ohio State’s wins in a down season for the SEC. Neither can Clemson, Washington, Oregon, Penn State, Wisconsin or Colorado. At this point, Alabama and Ohio State should be considered locks for the playoff.
Clemson is likely a win over Virginia Tech away from being a lock as well. And after that, well, everything is up for grabs.
And that was the third thing Ohio State’s victory assured: a certain amount of chaos and major questions about whether a team like Washington will have a strong enough case to reach the College Football Playoff.
Certainly, Washington will hope that a win over Washington State to end the regular season, coupled with a win over Colorado in the Pac-12 title game, is enough to get it into the Top Four. It goes without saying that beating Colorado will be crucial.
Don’t expect Washington to assume it will walk all over a tough Buffaloes team, however.
“That’s one of the things we talk about every day to our kids, about finishing everything—whether it’s school or a weight workout or a practice,” head coach Chris Petersen told Adam Jude of the Seattle Times. “I think the really good teams, the special teams, can finish. … We just feel like we’ve got some good football left.”
If the Huskies don’t finish, they’ll be finished. It’s as simple as that.
Next week will decide a lot—that much is for certain. Colorado and Washington will vie for a Pac-12 title Friday night. The Big Ten, SEC and ACC titles will all be decided Saturday, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will close out the regular season with a rivalry game that will also determine the winner of the Big 12.
Of course, no matter the results, the committee will have questions to sort out.
Does Michigan deserve to drop out of the Top Four? Will either Penn State or Wisconsin deserve to jump ahead of the Wolverines if it wins the Big Ten title despite losing to Michigan during the season? Will Washington’s resume be strong enough to get it into the playoff over the other Big Ten contenders? Will Oklahoma be a consideration at all if it beats Oklahoma State?
The coaches gave their opinion on how the teams should be ranked this week. The committee will shed some light on its thought process when it releases this week’s rankings as well. It’s all up for grabs in college football.
Let the drama ensue.
You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.