Three teams in the top four, five in the top 10, eight in the top 25 — swatted over the weekend like so many flies.
Stuff just got mighty real for the playoff selection committee. Will we be hit with any massive surprises Tuesday night as the latest selection returns roll in? What happens to Clemson, Michigan and Washington? Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin? Trump University and the Electoral College? (So sue me.)
Takeaways from Week 11 of the college football season:
1. For the first time since 1985, the AP’s Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams all lost on the same Saturday. This time, though, was much more of a collective shocker than that time.
Absolutely no one saw No. 2 Clemson losing at home to unranked, unremarkable Pittsburgh. No. 4 Washington, which was outscoring Pac-12 opponents by an average of nearly 30 points, was supposed to be able to handle 20th-ranked USC in Seattle. And No. 3 Michigan going down (again on a last-second field goal) at unranked, previously reeling Iowa? To some, it was unthinkable.
Rewind 31 years to a day when: No. 4 Arkansas was edged at home by Texas, which was squarely in the hunt for the Southwest Conference title all season; No. 3 Oklahoma was handled at home by Miami, which eventually climbed as high as No. 2 in the polls; and second-ranked Michigan fell at top-ranked Iowa on a last-second field goal.
No mind-blowers in that group at all.
2. But here I’ve gone and buried another lead. To be brief: Clemson and Michigan can win their ways back into the playoff four — they still “control their destinies,” as the talking heads love to say — and Washington likely is in the same boat. To be even briefer: Much ado about nothing.
3. Not sure Washington deserves to share the aforementioned boat with Clemson and Michigan. Put the Tigers against Pitt and the Wolverines against Iowa this time next month, and I’m betting on a pair of blowouts. Put the Huskies against USC, and we’ve already seen how it’ll go. The Trojans dominated Washington physically. Rarely at the college level is that a fluke.
4. The number of unbeaten teams is down to two: Alabama and Western Michigan. I’ll leave it to you to decide which of them will be in the playoff, and which will be callously disregarded by the self-important jerks in the media. But I’ve lost my train of thought. What we were talking about again?
5. Speaking of Alabama, the top-ranked Tide host Chattanooga in Week 12. If you close your eyes and listen closely, you can hear Nick Saban scolding the media for not taking the Moccasins seriously.
6. Staying on Alabama, the Tide could lose any of their remaining games (even to Chattanooga!) and still make the playoff. But if you thought Auburn might be the team to rattle Alabama’s cage, forget it. The Tigers had zero second-half first downs in Saturday’s 13-7 defeat at Georgia. The Iron Bowl will be a beatdown.
7. Are you ready for this? If one-loss Ohio State and two-loss Penn State both win out, the Nittany Lions — who beat the Buckeyes — will represent the East division in the Big Ten title game. This, folks, is how the Big Ten potentially is left out of the playoff.
8. Did you hear about Ole Miss freshman quarterback Shea Patterson? Coach Hugh Freeze burned his redshirt in the wake of last week’s injury to Chad Kelly, and the former five-star recruit responded with 402 total yards and an epic comeback in a 29-28 victory on the road over No. 8 Texas A&M. Hello, superstar.
9. If you’re one of those crying for an expanded playoff field, please stop. If three teams can lose on the same day and barely worry about falling out of a four-team field, it can only mean a four-team field is big enough.
10. Northwestern is 5-5 with two games to go. Am I the only one wondering if Illinois will sneak out of Evanston with a season-ending victory that heaves NU onto a smoldering pile of bowl-lessness with Notre Dame, Northern Illinois and the Illini?
Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.