Four teams that lost still in the playoff race

Published 5:25 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Down goes No. 2, No. 5, No. 8 and No. 10. It was like a domino effect in the Top 10, with Clemson, Washington, Washington State and Auburn each losing to a team nobody expected.

Heck, Friday around 5 p.m. I would have said each of those teams would’ve won by three touchdowns or more. But chaos crept in on Friday the 13th, and some of its tendrils grabbed ahold of Saturday too.

Syracuse gets a massive resume bump under second-year head coach Dino Barbers, who has gotten a lot of media attention for his postgame locker room breakdowns with the team. You have to give them credit, the Orange played exceptionally well against Clemson—well enough for Tigers coach Dabo Swinney to travel to the Syracuse locker room and congratulate them. If I was a young recruit not looking at any of the Blue Blood programs, I’d have ‘Cuse on my list. I like Coach Babers, and I hope he wins more games.

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Over on the West Coast later on Friday night, in a stadium filled with smoke from the California fires, an underappreciated Cal team took the field against an overhyped Washington State team and blew the doors off the hinges. Cal made taking down a Top 10 team look easier than ever. I’m not mad, though. Whatever gets Cougars coach Mike Leach to talk more is fine with me, and he had some great quotes in that post-game press conference.

“We were pathetic… We were a bunch of pathetic front-runners,” groaned Leach.

The Pac 12 chaos wasn’t over. Saturday night, Arizona State shocked the Huskies and showed the world why Washington in the Top 5 after the first half of the season made everyone a little uncomfortable. A schedule full of cupcakes doesn’t prove anything. I don’t think they’ll even have a shot at proving themselves against a formidable opponent for the rest of the year. Maybe Stanford will challenge them, but I’m not sure their resume is that strong. Washington had the least room for error of the teams that lost this weekend. Also, can Huskies fans please stop calling their team the “Dawgs”? There’s only one team of Dawgs, and they’re barking to the tune of 7-0 up in Athens.

Across the SEC, down in Baton Rouge, things are starting to trend up for the LSU Tigers. Fans cried to fire former interim, now head coach Ed Orgeron after croaking to Mississippi State and losing to Troy at home. But they’re righting the ship. Last week the Tigers traveled to the Swamp and beat the Gators. This weekend, the other Tigers from Auburn couldn’t manage to ride the lightning for another game. Auburn will have a tough time bouncing back from this, as their schedule only gets tougher and the ugliness of losing to LSU will have everyone scratching their heads and second guessing them for the rest of the year.

As history has proven, none of the teams that lost are necessarily out of the race for the College Football Playoffs. Clemson is the defending National Champion, and if they win out, the committee will have a hard time not including them in the Final Four. Washington and Washington State will have to remain perfect all the way through the Pac 12 Championship. Auburn will need to own the rest of its schedule, which means toppling No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia and winning the SEC Championship, a tough road to take.

None of it is guaranteed, but hope still remains for these four teams and their fans.