Will Colorado make the College Football Playoff? No, it’s not very likely.
However, the Buffaloes’ chances aren’t quite zero. Moreover, a simple recollection of the 2007 college football season offers a reminder: Anything can happen, and once in a great while, it does.
No one should expect Colorado to reach the football final four, but if a 2007-style chaos scenario emerges — Pitt winning at West Virginia, Oklahoma bumping off Missouri on the final weekend nine years ago — the college football community has to be ready to process the situation.
Consider this an act of preparation for “The Colorado Scenario.” It has a remote chance of coming true, but it’s one of the many possibilities Conference Championship Weekend could provide.
Western Michigan — which defeated Illinois and Northwestern — loses to Ohio.
Temple — which lost to Penn State — loses to Navy.
Oklahoma State — which lost to Central Michigan at home, no matter how controversial — beats Oklahoma.
Clemson loses to Virginia Tech.
Wisconsin beats Penn State.
If those events all happen (Western Michigan being the most peripheral and least necessary on the list), and Colorado handles Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday night in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Buffaloes would not be guaranteed a playoff berth… but they’d have a chance.
The biggest reason to think Colorado would in fact have a chance on Sunday — if everything breaks CU’s way on Friday and Saturday — is that the College Football Playoff hasn’t yet selected an at-large (read: non-champion of a conference) representative in its very brief existence. Yes, Ohio State is likely to break that string, but it raises the question: Would the playoff dare put two at-large teams in its final four?
The answer to that question could be yes, but there’s no guarantee.
Very simply, Michigan’s win over Colorado — as compelling and undeniable as it might be — could be overwhelmed by CU’s Pac-12 championship.
Plenty of reasonable people would be outraged by the decision.
The uproar for an eight-team playoff would markedly increase.
The decision would be debated until the end of time… but it would be understandable and own precedent.
Stranger things have happened in sports and beyond (the Cubs winning the World Series, Trump winning the presidency). Heck, crazier things have happened in college football, 2007 being just one example.
The Colorado Scenario isn’t a likely one, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed. On a Conference Championship Weekend bingo card, any scenario with Clemson and Washington losses will create a highly debated number-four selection for the committee. Most analysts probably think Penn State — with a win — is best positioned to get the 4 seed under that particular circumstance, but if Wisconsin knocks off the Nittany Lions, everything’s up for grabs. The playoff is too young for commentators — myself or anyone else — to definitively know what the committee will do.
We all have an idea of what the committee could do, and we all own firm beliefs of what the committee should do, but predicting what the committee will do is anybody’s guess.
No, Colorado isn’t a favored choice to land that No. 4 seed on football’s version of Selection Sunday, but if The Colorado Scenario emerges — in which the Big Ten takes several hits and the Clemson-Washington pair loses — the Buffaloes could roam on New Year’s Eve in a semifinal.