In case you were busy living life this weekend, you may have missed the fact that college football went up in flames. We are now due for a chaotic and nightmarish playoff field of two-loss teams and a conference championship slate of unseemly rematches. If you’re a higher-up at the NCAA, this is an embarrassment (same if you’re a higher up at Georgia or Notre Dame). But if you’re a part of Cal football? This is a dream.
To be clear, it’s not really possible to envision a scenario where the Bears win their next two games and make the playoffs at 7-6, save for the dream FBI sting that hits 60 schools. No, Cal’s opportunity is far more petty than that. After this weekend’s pandemonium, Stanford fans are chirping about a surprise chance at a Pac-12 championship and a lottery ticket for a playoff appearance. What better time to snap a seven-game losing streak and play the ultimate spoiler just as the Cardinal faithful are getting their hopes up?
Stanford notched a massively crucial win over Washington this weekend just as the Huskies were working their way back into the national conversation after a shocking loss to Arizona State a month ago. Now the Cardinal are battling it out with Washington State for the Pac-12 North title, and although their case for making the college football playoff is completely absurd, I’m willing to debase myself and make it here for the sake of a grudge match.
It goes something like this. Washington loses to Utah this week, and beats Washington State in the Apple Cup rivalry game in unimpressive fashion. Stanford blows out Cal and clinches the North when Wazzu loses, shortly before blowing out a still highly ranked Notre Dame. The Cardinal is now 9-3 with fairly impressive wins over the Fighting Irish and the Huskies, and they proceed to blow out top-10 USC in the Pac-12 title game by flummoxing the fairly-easily-flummoxed Sam Darnold. 10-3. Good enough to make the playoff when not even a two-loss team has made the playoffs? Let’s take this perverse torture scenario even further.
Auburn, coming off their big win against Georgia, somehow loses to 4-5 ULM and crushes No. 2 Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Georgia loses to Kentucky and Georgia Tech before facing off against Auburn in the SEC championships, where the Bulldogs win 3-2 in the worst game ever played. Both teams have four losses and are coming off the worst game ever played. Also, Alabama lost to Mercer before losing to Auburn and Nick Saban left for the NFL. The SEC misses out on the playoffs and the south secedes.
The turnover chain gives Miami defense lead poisoning and they lose to Virginia and Pitt before being obliterated by Clemson. The Tigers take the No. 1 spot. Oklahoma takes the No. 2 seed, and the rest of the Big 12 does Big 12 things and implodes. Undefeated Wisconsin takes No. 3 after Ohio State loses to Illinois and Urban Meyer flees the country, never to return.
Former Stanford professor Condoleezza Rice returns to the playoff selection committee and as a friendly gesture, distributes Cardinal letterman jackets that absolutely do not have $100 bills lining the inside. Stanford wins the Rose Bowl and Championship game behind 1000 total yard from Bryce Love. The rest of the country encourages Silicon Valley to secede and Jim Harbaugh goes into catatonic shock.
Will any of this happen? This season has been so absurd, I wouldn’t bet against one part of it occurring. Will it all happen? Of course not. But if you share this article with every Stanford student and alumni you know, and Cal head coach Justin Wilcox pulls off a Big Game upset for the ages coming off a bye week and capping off a terrific first season, won’t you get a little more joy out of it?