One year, there's going to be a season where every College Football Playoff team has a loss.
Last season, Clemson was the only CFP team without a defeat at the end of the year, though Ohio State, Iowa and Oklahoma State were all 10-0 on Nov. 17. There's going to be a year where every Power Five conference champion has a loss and there's going to be a war of words among coaches and pundits to declare the most appropriate four-team combination for the postseason.
The BCS era remained mostly clear of controversy because November always brought the most unthinkable of losses. It's hard to go undefeated, and even when you catch breaks along the journey, the ball will eventually bounce the other way.
Dabo Swinney needed some breaks for Clemson's 21-game winning streak in Death Valley to sustain until Pittsburgh kicker Chris Blewitt split the uprights to hand the Tigers their first-regular season loss since 2014. Clemson's loss didn't seem as ground-shaking a few hours later after Washington took its own home loss to a cross-division rival in Southern California. Now we have a real mess on our hands, and the only way to sort it out is through conference title races.
So as the committee rolls out its next batch of rankings, remember that the great equalizer has not been added to the equation. Every committee member knows the "conference championship bump" doesn't take effect until December, and it's the easiest way to pick four teams among five power conferences. Washington and Clemson took losses in Week 11, but as long as both teams remain on path for their respective league titles their playoff hopes are unchanged.
Here's how we think the AP Top 25 will look after Week 11's action on the field:
1. Alabama (Previous AP Top 25 ranking -- 1): The Tide trounced Mississippi State. Nick Fitzgerald will need all of the treatment this week. Watching the Alabama defense tee off on the young quarterback was borderline NSFW football and probably shouldn't have been shown so early in the day.
2. Ohio State (6): Big-time playoff era success can eat a team alive, but it also sets a certain expectation for weekly dominance that is not lost on anyone in the program. Curtis Samuel and other Buckeyes had "playoffs" on their minds when talking to reporters after a 62-3 win against Maryland, and if style points do matter, then OSU is doing a good job of building its résumé. Look for Ohio State to move into the top spot as the best one-loss Power Five team.
3. Clemson (3): The Tigers will probably fall farther than No. 4 in the CFP Rankings, but it's hard to see the AP voters dropping Clemson below Louisville after a narrow loss to Pitt. Deshaun Watson's Heisman chances probably took a bigger hit than Clemson's playoff chances with the ACC title still on the table as long as it bounces back with a win at Wake Forest next weekend.
4. Michigan (2): The Wolverines' loss shows the biting edge of that schedule that caused so many people to doubt this team's ability to win the Big Ten when ballots were cast in August. With good quarterback play, Michigan was going to be a 10-win team, but getting to or winning the playoff would take an extraordinary showing on the road in conference play. Until Saturday night's loss at Iowa, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines had caught enough breaks to remain undefeated and in control of their path to a playoff spot. Now the Ohio State game is do-or-die, a pair of superb teams hoping to wash out the stain of one loss with a conference championship.
5. Washington (4): Strength of schedule has been the buzz word for Washington. The USC game, a 26-13 loss, was set to be the next-toughest challenge since beating Utah last month. While Jake Browning and the offense bounced back from a slow start against the Utes to escape defeat earlier, the Trojans had answers and more turnovers hiding behind the corner for the budding star quarterback.
6. Louisville (5): The Cardinals' most recent ACC scare would drop Louisville a bit more in any other week or season. At the moment, the Cardinals just don't stack up well next to the top-tier one-loss teams. They only move down due to the Buckeyes' ascension.
8. West Virginia (11): Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia team will see a bump in the polls with its win at Texas, but nothing is coming easy for the Mountaineers. "Everything's hard on me. Going gray, losing hair, getting fat, you name it, it's hard," Holgorsen told reporters after the game. "It's fun, too, I'm going to go enjoy it." The Mountaineers still need to beat Oklahoma to get more serious playoff attention, but the time is now and Holgo has them in the mix.
9. Oklahoma (9): Everything is looking great for the Sooners. Baker Mayfield was near-perfect through the air (20 for 25 for 300 yards with two touchdowns and an interception) and Oklahoma got both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine rolling at the same time (224 rushing yards, three touchdowns combined) in their return to action. Look for the Heisman Trophy hype around Mayfield to heat up this week heading into the Big 12 title eliminator game against West Virginia.
10. Penn State (12): The Nittany Lions didn't play particularly well at Indiana, but damn if they didn't respond at the right times. Indiana went up 10 late in the game, and Penn State found new life on offense. That kind of timely play keeps Penn State in the hunt for a good bowl game and gives them a shot at becoming the sixth Big Ten team to make into the AP top 10 this season.
11. Utah (13): After falling behind 13-0 at Arizona State, Hunter Dimick (five of Utah's 11 sacks) and the Utes defense kicked it up a notch and dominated on the way to a 23-point win in Sun Devil Stadium. Joe Williams added 181 rushing yards and a couple of long scores to his impressive post-retirement tally and now Utah is two wins away from winning the Pac-12 South and possibly getting another shot at Washington in the conference title game.
12. Western Michigan (14): When we think of MACtion, the midweek late-season games often provide thrills with some occasional upsets or unexpected results. Western Michigan should then be happy to escape the midweek portion of its program still undefeated at 10-0 and eyeing a pair of winnable weekend games at home to clinch the division title and a shot at the New Year's Six.
13. Colorado (16): Coach Mac has this team 8-2 with a chance to play for the Pac-12 title. The surging Buffs haven't hit a wall yet but need to keep a lead on USC in the standings to make the championship game.
14. Oklahoma State (17): Texas Tech missed a game-tying extra point to send this game to overtime. Oklahoma State won, but it doesn't feel good. The Cowboys will hang in the top 25 and remain in the Big 12 title race but man Saturday was way too close for anyone in Stillwater to feel comfortable.
15. Auburn (8): Sean White looked lost and so did the Auburn offense as the collective struggles resulted in the worst loss of the season for Gus Malzahn. Auburn misses its long-shot chance at winning the SEC West and now only can hope to play spoiler for Alabama in the Iron Bowl after losing to Georgia on the road.
17. Florida State (20): The Seminoles faced an undermanned Boston College team that received some criticism from a former coach in its performance, but that should not cloud our view of a solid Florida State win under the lights Friday. Deondre Francois' shoulder injury is worth following moving forward, but Sean Maguire was solid in the second half and should be able to play at Syracuse next week if needed.
19. Florida (22): Florida is beat up but still very much in control of the SEC East heading to Baton Rouge next weekend. Austin Appleby's performance in the first half should give Gators fans some more confidence in Jim McElwain's ability to squeeze points out of this group, but the growing injury report does very little to assuage concerns of losing a spot in the SEC title game.
20. Washington State (23): Couple sore arms for Cal's Davis Webb and Luke Falk. Anytime you can get close to 100 passes combined between the two starting quarterbacks it's a good day out in the yard. The Cougars move into first place with the win and Washington's loss but the focus remains on the Apple Cup.
22. USC (NR): The Trojans beat a top-five team on the road but ultimately will be held back by their three losses when voters look at the full picture.
24. Navy (NR): Will Worth scored three touchdowns as the Midshipmen backed up an upset win against Notre Dame with a crucial conference win against Tulsa. It's still strange seeing Navy in the heat of conference title races, but as long as Ken Niumatalolo is on the sideline, we should get used to it.
25. Texas A&M (10): The Aggies might hold on in polls based on their body of the work, but Shea Patterson's breakout performance in the one-point loss to Ole Miss could be as much an indication of where Texas A&M is at this point in the season as it is an affirmation of the five-star quarterback's potential.