Yesterday, I released an episode of Cardinal CounTree that made a rather simple argument: since there are four slots in the College Football Playoffs, and since there are five Power Five conferences, Stanford will likely only need to edge out ONE of the five Power Five conferences to sneak into the College Football Playoffs (even as a two-loss team). And guess what? After the most recent CFP rankings, Stanford is actually already ranked AHEAD of a potential conference champion from each and every single one of the other four Power Five conferences. So, if Stanford takes care of business, it's not that crazy to think that Stanford might be able to edge out just ONE of the other conferences.
I'll say that again: if ANY ONE of the below scenarios unfolds, Stanford will likely be ranked ahead of one of the other conference champions. I'll be live updating this article throughout the day so we can track together how the various chaos scenarios are unfolding:
Big 12: Stanford is currently ranked ahead of Oklahoma State, so that's who we're rooting for to win the Big 12 Championship. And with TCU already beating Baylor yesterday, all we need today is for Oklahoma State to upset Oklahoma.
Update: Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State and clinches the Big 12 Championship. Chaos just wasn't meant to be in the Big 12 this year.
Big 10: Stanford is currently ranked ahead of Michigan, who is now our favorite team in the Big Ten (go Harbaugh!). Two dominoes need to fall in order for Michigan to move on to the Big Ten Championship. First, Michigan must beat Ohio State. Second, Penn State must upset Michigan State.
Update: No chaos in the B1G. After Ohio State's win, the B1G is guaranteed to have a top ten match up (Iowa vs. Michigan State).
SEC: We'll likely have to wait until next week to see if there's chaos in the SEC, but this one is very straight-forward: Florida is currently ranked behind Stanford, so we just need Florida to upset Alabama. Should that happen, Stanford will likely be ranked ahead of the SEC Champion Florida.
That said, there's actually a SECOND SEC chaos scenario that could emerge this week; it's a bit remoter, but it's nonetheless possible. First, we need Auburn to upset Alabama. That's going to be hard, but if that happens, next we'd just need Ole Miss to beat Mississippi State. Should that happen, the SEC Championship will be Florida vs. Ole Miss (and BOTH of those two teams are already ranked beneath Stanford).
Update: Alabama won and is off to the SEC Championship against Florida. That said, chaos hasn't yet been eradicated from the SEC as we root for Florida next week.
ACC: We'll need to wait until next week for this one to play out. But North Carolina is our team since they're currently ranked behind Stanford. If North Carolina upsets Clemson in the ACC Championship, the ACC champion will be ranked behind Stanford.
Pac-12: Finally, of course, it's worth noting that all of the above is predicated on Stanford
defeating Notre Dame and winning the Pac-12 Championship game next week. If those two things don't that doesn't happen, it's game over for Stanford in the CFP.
Update: Stanford did, indeed, take care of Notre Dame in a true thriller of a game. Now Stanford is just one game away from finishing its business.
But if Stanford DOES, in fact, take care of business, then we're just looking for ANY ONE of the above conferences to falter. I'll be live tracking results throughout the day and letting you know how the chaos scenarios are settling.
END OF DAY UPDATE: None of the chaos scenarios for this week came through, BUT HOPE IS NOT LOST! Next week we still have two more potential chaos scenarios, and all Stanford fans should be rooting for the Tar Heels to upset Clemson in the ACC and the Gators to upset Alabama in the SEC. Should either of those two things happen, Stanford just might have a shot. But even if neither of those things happens, honestly, look at how far this team has come; the very worst that can happen for us in the Pac-12 Championship is that we're still playing for a Rose Bowl. And when the WORST-case scenario is that you're still playing for a Rose Bowl, that's pretty darn impressive. What a year this team has had, and I can only look forward to what comes next. Stay tuned!