Kansas State could be playing for a whole lot more than a potential Big 12 championship Saturday at Baylor.
The Wildcats could still get into the College Football Playoff.
Stay with me on this one because such a scenario has a lot of moving parts. But if the dominoes fall just right Saturday for K-State, it’s not impossible.
The Wildcats currently are ranked No. 9 in the College Football Playoff Rankings ahead of some huge match-ups nationally this weekend, starting with Friday night’s Pac-12 championship game between Arizona and Oregon at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
Getting from No. 9 to No. 4 in just one week might sound impossible. And maybe it is.
But what if all of this happens?
▪ No. 1 Alabama beats Missouri in the SEC championship game.
▪ No. 2 Oregon beats No. 7 Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game.
▪ No. 3 TCU wins at home against Iowa State to finish 8-1 in Big 12 play, its only loss to Baylor.
▪ Georgia Tech wins convincingly over No. 4 Florida State in the ACC championship game in Charlotte.
▪ Wisconsin knocks off No. 5 Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
▪ No. 9 Kansas State goes on the road and takes care of No. 6 Baylor.
Got all that?
It’s not completely outlandish, is it?
Oregon should beat Arizona, even though the Wildcats handed the Ducks their only loss of the season earlier.
Florida State has lived on the edge in a lot of games this season. And Georgia Tech is really good, especially offensively. The Yellow Jackets could pull this off against the unbeaten and defending national champions.
Ohio State is beaten up and Wisconsin is tough and it’s not crazy to think the Badgers get this one, especially since Ohio State will be without quarterback J.T. Barrett, who broke his ankle in the Michigan game last week. True, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is nursing his own ankle injury, but he should be ready to go according to reports.
And couldn’t K-State get this one at Baylor?
I know. Two years ago. Look at what was on the line for the Wildcats two seasons ago in Baylor and what happened in that game. Kansas State laid an egg and lost in a blowout to the Bears.
But we’re talking about what-ifs here. And what if all of this happened?
There is still Michigan State to account for. The Spartans are through with their regular season and are ranked in the CFPR, one spot ahead of Kansas State.
Surely a K-State win, though, would vault the Cats past Michigan State. And past No. 7 Arizona with its potential loss to Oregon. And past No. 6 Baylor. And perhaps No. 5 Ohio State, with its defeat at the hands of Wisconsin. And past Florida State, especially if Georgia Tech can handle the Seminoles convincingly.
Or would the College Football Playoff selection committee still be inclined to keep Florida State in the top four, even with a loss?
In this scenario, Kansas State would still have two losses on its resume, to Auburn and TCU. And Florida State would have only one.
Would the committee be willing to put in a second team from the Big 12 with only one team from the SEC, the most powerful football conference in the land that, thanks to that balance of power, has only one team in the College Football Playoff Rankings top nine?
I ask: How can Arizona and Michigan State be ranked above Mississippi State if the SEC, as we know it is, is all that?
While this system is an improvement on the BCS, it’s still remarkably flawed and the arguments that could ensue after this weekend’s games might be heated.
Currently, according to the rankings, the two national semifinal games would pit Alabama against Florida State and Oregon against TCU.
The SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten have conference championship games that could end up hurting their best teams.
The Big 12 lacks a conference championship game, which could be a factor in getting two teams into the playoff.
What’s equitable about that?
But Baylor and Kansas State fans aren’t thinking about equity as Saturday’s game approaches. They’re thinking about what could be.
And depending on how things go this weekend, what could be is fascinating.