One-loss chaos scenario: What happens if there are no more undefeated college football teams?

There are eight contenders still vying for the College Football Playoff. They could all have a loss by the end of the week.

There are calm sports. There are soothing sports. There are sports built on foundations of logical and reasonable competition, sports that use rational methods to determine their champion.

And then there’s college football, where madness rules.

Heading into conference championship weekend, all four spots in the College Football Playoff remain up for grabs. For the first time in the playoff’s 10-year history, eight teams are still in the mix … some very much more than others. (Sorry, Ohio State.)

Every team has a path to the playoff, and every team has looming questions. If Alabama beats Georgia, could the playoff committee really lock out the SEC? Since Texas beat Alabama, shouldn’t the Longhorns get in over the Tide if both end with just one loss? Should Florida State get a downgrade just because its starting QB is out for the season? If Michigan loses to Iowa, should the Wolverines just give it up and disband?

There are many questions, and like a security guard trying to keep students from rushing the field, the playoff committee hasn’t given any reliable sense of which way it might lean. So what we can do is this: Create a scenario in which everyone is equal — and pandemonium reigns.

Right now, we have four teams with one loss and four teams still undefeated. Now, imagine this: Texas beats Oklahoma State. Georgia loses to Alabama. Florida State loses to Louisville. Washington loses to Oregon. And Michigan loses to Iowa. (Yes, that last one is a reach. But you saw what played out at Auburn on Saturday. Anything can happen in college football. Anything.)

Here’s what you have then: Georgia 12-1. Michigan,12-1. Washington 12-1. Florida State 12-1. Oregon 12-1. Texas 12-1. Alabama 12-1. Ohio State 11-1. Perfectly balanced, isn’t it? How do you begin sorting out this mess?

Which teams make the playoff if everybody has one loss after this weekend? (Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Which teams make the playoff if everybody has one loss after this weekend? (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

In this scenario, you’d have three conference champions (Pac-12’s Oregon, Big 12’s Texas, SEC’s Alabama) who, as of Friday afternoon, were ranked behind — in some cases, far behind — defeated opponents.

Should a conference championship be worth more than season-long excellence? Should, say, Alabama jump Georgia for winning the SEC championship, even though Alabama was ranked No. 8 and Georgia ranked No. 1 going in? If not, why not? And if so, shouldn’t Texas be ranked ahead of Alabama?

Moreover, when everyone has one loss, you stop focusing on quality of wins and start focusing on quality of losses. In other words, Washington would have one loss to a conference champion; should that trump Texas’ conference championship, since Texas lost to a team that didn’t even make the Big 12 title game? Should a loss in the title game carry more weight for Georgia, Michigan or Florida State, since it happened in a title game and not the regular season? Whose losses are prettier, and whose are uglier? If Ohio State swans its way into the playoff, will Michigan fans burn the bracket to the ground?

In the One-Loss Chaos scenario, you would probably have a playoff foursome of Oregon, Texas, Alabama and … Georgia? Michigan? Washington? Even Ohio State? Most likely the only school without a prayer in this scenario is Florida State, but even that could change, depending on margins of victory, overtime defeats and other strangeness.

(And hey, as long as we're talking wild scenarios — what happens if Florida State is the only team that wins? Does an undefeated Florida State merit a playoff spot more than a one-loss Georgia or Michigan or Alabama or Texas or ... )

BetMGM puts the one-loss chaos parlay at just under +10000, meaning chaos would net you almost a thousand bucks on a $10 bet. But even if you don’t gamble, you can enjoy the pandemonium. Because championship weekend is going to be madness no matter how it goes down.