How a Houston Win Tonight Would Change the Entire CFP Picture

Photo Credit: Philly

Tonight, the Houston Cougars (8-2) will host the #5 Louisville Cardinals (9-1) in a game that has College Football Playoff (CFP) implications for the Cardinals and for every other team still in contention to get into the CFP. In short, a Houston win would pretty much invalidate everything written in my 3,252-word article that I wrote earlier this week about how the CFP selection committee would judge who gets into the CFP if every game turns out as it is supposed to, which you can read about HERE.

Last season, Houston won this matchup by a score of 34-31 on the road in Louisville, shutting down this season’s Heisman Trophy award frontrunner Lamar Jackson in doing so in Jackson’s second ever NCAA football game. Now, Jackson is a much better overall quarterback both in the passing and the running game, and his team is ranked 5th in the country with a great chance at getting into the CFP, while Houston is unranked. In fact, ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) gives the Cardinals an 85.2% chance at walking out of Houston victorious with their hopes at getting into the CFP alive and well. However, we cannot forget that Houston took down the #3 Oklahoma Sooners by a score of 33-23 in the first week of this season, and they were ranked as high as #6 in the nation, so they certainly have a tough team that could pull off the upset, led by quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (picture), once a Heisman Trophy award hopeful himself.

If Louisville loses, it opens the door for a two-loss Big 10 or even Pac-12 champion to get into the CFP, and possibly even a non-Big 10 champion two-loss Michigan Wolverines or Ohio State team. If Louisville loses this game, it takes them totally out of CFP contention, and paired with a potential loss by the Clemson Tigers to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Saturday, it takes away the potential for any ACC team to be in this season’ CFP since that would make both Louisville and Clemson 9-2 with Louisville going to the ACC championship with 10-2 being their best possibly record.

Assuming Houston wins tonight’s game against Louisville and everything else that is supposed to happen happens in all of the other remaining games for other CFP contenders, that would put the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Clemson Tigers, and the Ohio State Buckeyes in the CFP, with Louisville’s previously held spot (according to the article which I have linked above) becoming open.

The teams that would have a chance to get into that spot would be a 10-2 non-Big 10 champion, likely Michigan, or an 11-2 Big 10 champion in either the Wisconsin Badgers or the Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions. Also, the Pac-12 champion would have a chance to slide into the spot, particularly if the Pac-12 champion ends up being the Washington Huskies, whose best and pretty much only chance at being the champion of the Pac-12 conference is by finishing the season with a 12-1 record.

Simply put, a Houston win tonight over Louisville opens the door for so many other teams that have potential to be selected by the CFP committee as one of the four teams that get into this season’s CFP field. On the other hand, a Louisville win, which is still the more likely result of tonight’s game, would keep all of the predictions that I made in the article that I linked above intact. A Houston win tonight would shake everything up and really make the hunt to get into the CFP a lot more interesting for a lot more teams than it already is.


-Asher Fair


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