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Welcome back to another week of Opinions. You had a taste last week, and you came back for more. I admire your strong constitution.
After a week of college football, we’ve learned a lot. Or have we? That’s the kind of hard hitting questions I ask. The kind that other random strangers on the internet don’t have the guts to ask.
There are plenty of storylines to examine in the Big 12, and as usual I’ll be ignoring the most compelling of those. Instead, let’s talk about the topics that shouldn’t make your blood boil, but, oh buddy, they do anyway.
Week One Means Nothing
Did your team lose in week 1?
‘Oh no, the Sooners got upset!’
‘Crap, Iowa State is bad still!’
‘The old wizard couldn’t pull off a miracle in Palo Alto!’
Guess what? None of those losses mean anything. Don’t gasp yet because there’s more.
Did your team come up with a big win in week 1?
‘Yeehaw, Texas is great again!’
‘The Mountaineers topped an SEC team!’
‘We blew out a school I’ve never heard of!’
Guess what? That win you celebrated on Saturday means everything. Not really, it’s as meaningless as those losses.
How is this possible? We’re led to believe that every game is vital in a team’s pursuit of a championship. In reality, the college football season is long and, if you’re a member of a Power Five conference, affords plenty of opportunities to recover from an early loss. The earlier you lose, the better your chances.
There’s four spots available for the College Football Playoff. OK, if you’re in the Big 12 there’s maybe one spot available in the Playoff. That doesn’t sound like great odds, but let’s walk through the scenarios.
OU is the easiest case, obviously. Sure, they lost to Houston, but they’re a name brand, they’re still ranked 14th, and they’ll have a chance to beat Ohio State before conference play even starts. If they beat their next two opponents, they’ll be a top 8 team with all the other Big 12 elites left to play. Eat your heart out, every other Big 12 school.
Kansas State is a little more difficult. Stanford was their only statement game outside conference play, so they can’t right the ship quickly. However, if they were to run the table, they’d have road wins in Norman, Waco and Fort Worth. If Stanford wins the Pac-12, it’d be hard to beat K-State’s resume. As hard as the candies surely found in Coach Snyder’s pullover pockets.
Finally, there’s the curious case of Iowa State. Let me stretch first because this one’s going to take some real gymnastics.
OK, sure they lost to a FCS school at home. There’s a chance that alone keeps them behind any other one-loss team for the rest of the season. But, they have an opportunity to beat Iowa on the road this week, then TCU away from home in week three. That very well could give them the best two road wins of the young season, and put them in the top 25. Matt Campbell then continues to strengthen his team through conference play, and voila!
Now let’s flip the coin. We already know none of the wins piled up against bad teams count for a hill of beans. In fact, a hill of beans would probably play many of those cupcakes close.
Some folks in West Virginia might think a win over Missouri might mean something, but Missouri lost their spring game to hill of beans so let’s move on.
Texas is the only team that could unravel this theory. They picked up a big win at home that could be used later in the season to verify their credibility.
But, even though Notre Dame is by far the best team on their non-conference slate, would it have mattered if Texas had lost? They’d now be in a similar position as the Sooners. No, they wouldn’t be ranked, and would have a blemish on their home record, and they don’t have another signature win possible before league play. Wait, how are they like the Sooners?
Oh, because they are also a name brand and college football is played on a field heavily slanted towards the historically powerful.
Is a 1-loss Texas team, who ran the table in the Big 12 really going to miss the playoff? Not if that loss is to Notre Dame in week one, and probably not even if that loss is to UTEP or at Cal. Eh, maybe UTEP.
So you celebrated a big win, or drowned your sorrows after an early loss for nothing. That’s OK. For almost every fan base in the country, there’s a debilitating, crippling loss to drink about in your near future. Cheers!