The college football rankings are set to be announced this Sunday. Before then though, we have a weekend of conference championships, some of which could have a major impact on the final rankings and determine who is in or out.
Here, we will take a look at each potential playoff team and give the reasons why we should buy stock in them making the playoffs, along with why would should sell stock in them making the playoffs. There are more than a few teams that have cases to be made, even if they need a little help still, so let's examine them here.
WHY TO SELL: At this point, if someone sells stock in Alabama being a playoff team, then they need to be investigated for insider trading. They must know that some investigation has been launched about Alabama playing with ineligible players this season so they are going to be forced to forfeit their wins and the committee won't want that black cloud in the playoffs. That's the type of scenario that people who sell stock would have to be hoping for, so just play it safe and don't sell.
2. Ohio State
WHY TO SELL: We are unsure how much emphasis the committee will put on a conference championship, so there's a glimmer of a chance that Ohio State will be penalized for not winning the Big Ten and the committee will overlook them because of it. There's also the big issue of the committee having to decide between them and Penn State if the Nittany Lions win the conference. Ohio State only has 1 loss while Penn State has 2, but a conference title plus being the head to head winner(PSU beat OSU this season) could make up for that 1 loss. To sell stock in OSU, you would have to buy into conference titles being very meaningful to the committee and that Penn State is going to win the Big Ten title on Saturday.
WHY TO SELL: Unsure about Clemson beating Virginia Tech? Thinking that an upset is about to occur? Then selling here is a good idea. If Clemson wins then they are in, but if Clemson loses then they are all but out of it. They would need Washington to also lose their conference title, then be at the mercy of the playoff committee and they choose between the B1G conference winner, Michigan, and Colorado(who would have beaten Washington in Pac-12 title) and even possibly the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State winner for the final 2 entries. There's still a chance to make it if they lose, but they would need a few dominos to fall their way, so if an upset is brewing here then sell stock in Clemson.
WHY TO SELL: This is even easier than Clemson's "sell" scenario, if they lose to Colorado then they are not making the playoffs. The committee doesn't tend to care much for the Pac-12 this season, as shown when Washington, who was undefeated at the time, was originally ranked #5 while a 1 loss Texas A&M team was at #4 when the first batch of playoff ranking came out a 5 weeks ago. Washington loses and they won't have the backdoor scenario that Clemson does, the Pac-12 champ(Colorado) will have a better shot at making it than the Huskies would at that point. So if you really think Colorado will pull this one out then sell all the stock you have of Washington.
WHY TO SELL: There seems to be a very good chance that championship week goes chalk and Clemson and Washington both win, then the final 4 of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington is all but finalized. The other scenario is the B1G champ, namely Wisconsin, could hop over Michigan even if either Clemson or Washington lose. The main gripe will be that the Wolverines have beaten both competitors in the B1G title game, but the champ gaining a conference title and top 10 win to add to their resume could vault them over. Usually that 5 seed is first in line if one of the top 4 does falter, but losing 2 of their last 3 games puts Michigan in a spot where they could also get leapfrogged. This really is a 50/50 scenario on whether to buy or sell here, safe call is to sell but it isn't much of a gamble to buy here.
WHY TO SELL: Because the 3 events that need to take place for them to make the playoffs is a long shot. It will be a struggle to beat Penn State even, let alone banking on Clemson or Washington to get upset in their conference title game. Then if the Badgers pass those 2 phases, jumping up over a team that beat them in the regular season is also a fairly big risk. I can see a reason to hold onto some stock just incase this happens since it would be a pretty big payout, but the smart play here is to sell stock in Wisconsin.
7. Penn State
WHY TO SELL: Penn State is currently the underdog against Wisconsin, though it's a slim margin. But if they do not beat Wisconsin then they have no shot at the playoffs, so if you believe that the Badgers will win then go ahead and sell here. The Nittany Lions' overall body of work could be an issue for them as well even if they do win the Big Ten championship. Penn State has a win over Ohio State, but that is their only win against top 25 teams and they actually have a losing overall record against the top 25(1-2.) So while they could argue about their championship and head to head win over Ohio State, the Buckeyes overall have a much better body of work which would lead many to believe that they will get in over Penn State.
WHY TO SELL: Colorado would need somewhat of a miracle to make the playoffs, and it's never a good idea to hold onto stock that is based on the premise of a miracle. Everything could go Colorado's way this weekend and they still may not find themselves higher than 6th, let alone all the way up to 4th.
WHY TO SELL: Needing to beat a top 10 team along with banking on the outcomes of 2 heavy favorites to both lose and then cross fingers that Oklahoma's resume somehow is well received enough to jump from 9th to 4th is comparable to playing Russian roulette with all 6 bullets in the chamber. There's a reason why Oklahoma is still sitting at 9th even though they are riding an 8 game winning streak and is undefeated in conference play, that should be telltale on how the committee views the Sooners' body of work.
10. Oklahoma State
WHY TO SELL: When a team is given less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs based on computer generated analysis that combs through every possible outcome this weekend, it's best to sell their playoff stock.