By Garret Heinrich (@GarretHeinrich)
The Houston Cougars (15) got over their biggest single hump of the season by absolutely dismantling the Oklahoma Sooners (3) in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG stadium on Saturday. That has cleared the path for Tom Herman to take the Coogs and become the first non-power five conference team to make it into the College Football Playoff.
It’s too early and too much can happen to really know if this will happen, but everyone will start talking about the Cougars and their chances of being a team that breaks up the dance between the big boys. Since the conversation is going to happen, we thought we’d look at what it will take to get the University of Houston a chance to play for the National Championship, something that is a very possible now.
They need to take care of everyone on their schedule:
The only way the Cougars make it into the final four is by running the table and proving they deserve to be there by being 13-0 at the end of the season. This seems like something that is a viable outcome for the Cougars when you look at the rest of their schedule.
The toughest tests for UH will be Louisville (19) at home late in the year as well as at Cincinnati in two weeks. Also, the AAC championship game will be a test, but one that the Coogs should be up for.
The Cougars would also want Oklahoma to play exceptionally well and keep their win over the team ranked 3rd at the time of their meeting in the top 25 for the rest of the year. A two loss Oklahoma would be the best thing for the Cougars, especially if their only losses are to them and Ohio State.
That is something UH can’t control. They can only control what they do, and they need to win out. It’s the only way. They could also use some help from some other teams in the country. If there are four undefeated teams besides UH the committee could decide to leave out the Cougars because of their weaker schedule. This is, of course, only if the other four undefeated teams are from power five conferences. UH is obviously the best non-power five team in the country if they run the table.
What else needs to happen for UH to secure one of those coveted four spots?
No other undefeated teams:
If no one else goes undefeated it obviously makes a case for the Cougars to get in as a team that started the year ranked and ran the table. But that is the best way for UH to get into the playoffs. It would be hard to keep a 13-0 Coogs out of the top four if everyone else has at least one loss. It could happen, but it would be really hard to make a case for that.
The SEC championship game needs to be between two (at least) one-loss teams:
The worst thing that might happen for UH is if the SEC sees an undefeated battle in their championship game. We know the committee is enamored with the SEC. If Alabama (1) and Tennessee (9) were to run the table in the regular season, outside of their game against each other, a close championship game would probably drop both of them into the playoffs. This would make it hard for the committee to put UH in over either of those teams AND it would leave a lot of other possibilities for just two teams to jump UH. Any other undefeated team and a strong one-loss conference champion would probably get in over UH.
The Pac 12 needs a dominant force:
One team in the Pac 12 needs to show that they are the class of the conference which boasts five top 25 teams to start the year. The Coogs would likely like that dominant team to be Oregon (24) could lose one game and win the Pac 12 and actually get left out of the college football playoff. Getting one of the power five conferences out of the running is a big boost for the Cougars.
Notre Dame stumbles:
With no conference championship to boost their claim, the independents will need to lose a game to help out the Coogs and to drop them behind the undefeated team in the rankings and chances at getting in the playoffs. The Fighting Irish don’t have one game that really screams ‘okay to lose’ and make the playoffs. A one loss Notre Dame likely sits behind UH in the standings
The Big Ten beat each other up:
A two-loss or even a one-loss Big Ten champion could fall behind the undefeated Coogs and help them get one of the last four spots. It would be beneficial for all the Big Ten teams to just lose to each other so the champion has two losses.
Clemson (2) is the only good team in the ACC:
Florida State (4) would have to stumble, but it is very plausible Clemson comes out as the easy ACC Champion and grabs a spot in the playoffs alongside UH. An even better scenario is both Florida State and Clemson lose two games or one game to a far inferior opponent, making the ACC Champion a question mark for one of the four playoff positions.
Oklahoma wins the Big 12 after an impressive performance post loss to UH:
If the Sooners run the table the rest of the year it would almost ensure an undefeated Houston team getting into the playoffs over other one-loss teams.
There are a lot of things that could happen and a lot of games left to be played, but now that the Cougars have started the year off upsetting Oklahoma, every time UH wins and a top ranked school loses it helps the University of Houston get closer to becoming the first non-power five team to make the College Football Playoff.
(Via Cody Stoots) Things Houston doesn’t NEED to happen but would really help their case a lot:
Navy has two losses, to Houston and Notre Dame, at the end of the year.
Cincinnati’s lone loss comes via the Cougars.
Louisville upsets one of the ACC favorites (Florida State or Clemson) and Houston beats them in November.