The results that will throw the College Football Playoff into chaos

You might want to sit down for this.

As we enter the second half of the season, there is still so much potential for chaos. It's only a matter of time before there is an upset in a conference championship game. That's when the entire playoff picture changes overnight -- literally.

So don't get too comfortable with your team's perceived position of power.

Here's a look at several scenarios that would wreak havoc on the committee's final ranking, and cause a few headaches within the "Selection Central" meeting room:


Chaos happens if: A two-loss Coastal Division winner upsets Clemson in the ACC championship game. The winner of the Coastal is guaranteed to have at least two losses because every team on that side already does. Clemson certainly hasn't been flawless and has looked beatable against the likes of Troy and NC State, so an upset in the title game isn't exactly far-fetched.

The debate: Would the selection committee take a one-loss Louisville team that didn't win its conference instead of a two-loss ACC champion? It depends on how good Louisville looks in the second half of the season, if Houston stays ranked and how many Coastal Division teams are ranked in the selection committee's ranking. Louisville would have to look dynamite down the stretch because its only ranked opponent remaining is Houston.

The odds: Slim. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, Clemson would have an 80 percent chance to beat UNC, 74 percent chance to beat Miami and 86 percent chance to beat Virginia Tech in a potential ACC title game.

Consider this: What if Clemson loses to Florida State on Oct. 29 and still wins the ACC championship game, but there's also an undefeated West Virginia team and undefeated Washington out there? The ACC could be left out in favor of the Pac-12, Big 12, SEC and Big Ten champs. Or a one-loss Clemson could be taken ahead of an undefeated conference champ with a weaker schedule. Either way, it will be a fascinating debate.

BIG 12

Chaos happens if: Baylor and West Virginia lose, but Oklahoma wins out. The Big 12 is clinging to the hope that Baylor and WVU can remain undefeated until they play each other in Morgantown on Dec. 3, but neither team has any margin for error because of the overall strength of schedule.

The debate: Is a two-loss Big 12 champ in Oklahoma one of the four best teams in the country? The Sooners lost to Ohio State and Houston, both top-25 teams that would need to remain in the committee's rankings. OU probably would need an upset or two in a conference title game to earn serious consideration.

The odds: Oklahoma is favored to win each of its remaining games, but the Nov. 19 trip to Morgantown is a toss-up with FPI giving the Sooners a 52.5 percent chance to win.

Consider this: Would an undefeated Baylor team have its off-field transgressions held against it? CFP executive director Bill Hancock says no. "The committee's only task is to pick the best teams. They do pick those teams based on what transpires on the field." Baylor's problem with the committee won't be public perception; the problem remains a nonconference schedule that ranks 128th in the country according to FPI.


Chaos happens if: Ohio State or Michigan loses in Big Ten title game. Nebraska is the front-runner to win the Big Ten West, but it's still not over. The Huskers still have to play at Wisconsin on Oct. 29 and at Ohio State on Nov. 5. Wisconsin and Iowa are mathematically still in it.

The debate: Could the loser of the Big Ten title game still get in? If Nebraska runs the table and wins the Big Ten, it's in, but what about the runner-up? Would the committee consider an Ohio State or Michigan team whose only loss was in the title game?

The odds: Nebraska would have a 12 percent chance to beat Michigan and 15 percent chance to beat Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, according to FPI.

Consider this: Assuming Ohio State or Michigan wins the Big Ten, could the loser of their regular-season game still make the committee's top four? Yes, if it's a close game, especially considering Ohio State has to play Nebraska during the regular season. So if the Buckeyes didn't get the chance to line up against the Huskers in the Big Ten title game, they would have had a chance to show the committee they could beat the best of the West during the regular season with wins over Wisconsin AND Nebraska. That would be the best-case scenario for the Big Ten to get two teams in: to have Michigan beat the Huskers in the championship game, and for Ohio State to do it during the regular season.


Chaos happens if: Washington State wins the North. If Washington State has one loss or is undefeated entering the Apple Cup -- and beats Washington -- it will win the North. Washington State isn't going to finish in the top four -- not with losses to FCS Eastern Washington and Boise State -- but it can derail the entire Pac-12's playoff position.

The debate: There isn't much of one. Washington has to win out, unless Wazzu stumbles twice down the stretch. If Washington isn't the Pac-12 champ, though, it's not in the top four. Not with a nonconference schedule that includes Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State.

The odds: Washington currently has a 70.8 percent chance to win the Apple Cup, and would have a 73 percent chance to beat Colorado in a Pac-12 championship game, according to ESPN's FPI. (Right now FPI favors Colorado to win the South.)

Consider this: What if Utah wins the conference title? The Utes' only loss so far was at Cal, and they're leading the South standings. Washington and Colorado, though, are both looming on the regular-season schedule. A nonconference schedule that includes Southern Utah, BYU and San Jose State would be a problem. The Pac-12 could be in trouble in this scenario.


Chaos happens if: A two-loss Tennessee team knocks off Alabama in the SEC championship game. Yes, one-loss Florida is in the lead in the SEC East now that Tennessee has lost two games, but the Gators still have to play at Arkansas and at LSU. According to ESPN's FPI, Tennessee has the easiest remaining conference schedule of any Power 5 school, resulting in a 64 percent chance to win the SEC East. If the Vols can get healthy, they'd have revenge on their minds in Round 2 against Bama.

The debate: Would a two-loss Tennessee team be one of the four best teams in the country? The SEC champ is perceived as a lock, but that's not necessarily the case. It would obviously be hard to ignore a win over the defending national champs on the Saturday that matters the most, and the Vols' only two losses would be to the two best teams in the West. But would the committee consider them better than a one-loss or undefeated Power 5 champ?

The odds: Alabama would have about an 85 percent chance to beat both Tennessee and Florida (that's a 15-point spread) in the SEC title game.

Consider this: What if Alabama loses to Texas A&M on Saturday in a down-to-the-wire thriller, and doesn't play in the SEC championship game, but that's the Tide's only loss? Could the SEC get two teams in? Absolutely. This might be the best-case scenario for a Power 5 conference to get two teams in the top four only because of how mighty Alabama has looked this fall

Ultimate playoff buster

Let's have some fun and defy all odds like the sport we love.

The ultimate CFP chaos happens if:

• Two-loss Tennessee wins the SEC AND
• Two-loss Colorado wins the Pac-12 AND
• Clemson is upset in the ACC title game AND
• Louisville loses to Houston AND
• Wisconsin wins the Big Ten.

And here you thought you had it all figured out ...