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Why College Football Needs Marshall

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The College Football Playoff must be vetted, and there's only one team that can carry out the task.

Tom Pennington

You might be familiar with the Twitter hashtag #TeamChaos and what it represents. If you are not, let me initiate you into the movement.

#TeamChaos stems from the simple belief that college football is at its best when it’s spectacularly unpredictable and the consistently underestimated parity of the sport shines.

Last week’s AP Poll armageddon was as enjoyable of a day as #TeamChaos has had in a while, but I’m of the belief that the best is yet to come, and thus, I am preparing.

There are currently nine undefeated teams in the Power Five Conferences: Florida State, Auburn, both Mississippi schools, TCU, Arizona, Baylor, Notre Dame (a P5 onto itself), and Georgia Tech.

Of those schools, only Florida State has a better than 15 percent chance of going undefeated this season, according to ESPN’s mysterious Football Power Index algorithm.

Save for Auburn, I’m yet to see a Power Five school who has the makings of a juggernaut — Florida State and Notre Dame have been sloppy, Mississippi State isn’t deep enough, Ole Miss’ mistake-prone offense will lose the Rebs three games this season, TCU’s defense isn’t as elite as the nation wants to think, Georgia Tech — while fun — is hardly the best team in the ACC, and Arizona should already have a loss.

To me, Auburn is the best team of the bunch, but they’re young and play in the toughest division of the toughest conference in America. It’d take something special to go undefeated in 2014, and the Tigers might be all out of pixie dust.

Fact is, there is not an undisputed leader, and because of that we could well be heading towards a repeat of the 2007 season, a campaign which started with Appalachian State beating No. 5 Michigan and compounded interest on the crazy from there, cashing out when a two-loss LSU won the National Championship.

It was a banner year for #TeamChaos.

But we’re playing by different rules now. And with the College Football Playoff, the chaos will be mitigated. In 2007, there was the Curse of No. 2. This year, we’d be lucky to get the Curse of No. 4. A mass of one-loss teams might be difficult to sift through, but the chaos has happened early enough that biases can be re-confirmed and general consensus can be found on the best four heading into the final selections. Frankly, that sounds kind of boring.

Luckily there is another undefeated college football team in 2014 — and if you’re a member of #TeamChaos, you need to start supporting them right away.

Conference USA’s Marshall is 5-0 on the season, and has made that undefeated record look easy, outscoring opponents by an average of 30 points per game so far. The Thundering Herd have a Heisman Trophy contender in quarterback Rakeem Cato, a stout defense that’s holding opponents to 4.39 yards per play, and one of the nation’s easiest schedules going into the homestretch of the season. (That same mysterious ESPN algorithm says Marshall's win-out percentage is 41.8 — whatever that means. All I know if that their toughest game remaining is this week, at home, against Middle Tennessee State. )

The College Football Playoff needs to be properly vetted, and Marshall is the best bet to truly test the system.

Because if we are indeed heading into a sea of one and two-loss teams vying for the four CFP playoff spots, an undefeated Marshall team could clog up the whole system, create controversy, highlight the flaws in the new order of things, and hopefully create public pressure for change — the true mission of #TeamChaos.

Remember, it was controversy that did in the BCS — and in the face of that pressure, we received annual rule changes and system reallocations. The son of a bitch still survived for 15 years. If it takes 15 years for the College Football Playoff to expand to eight teams, we’ve failed as a society.

There’s still a long way to go in the 2014 season, and the Herd can still lose a game, blowing this argument to shreds, but it's important to start politicking for Marshall today — because if it's the only undefeated team standing come December 7, we must be in a position to whip up a mighty stink should they not be involved in the four-team melee, and you can't properly do that if it's a rush job.

In the meantime, as a newfound advocate, learn about the Herd. Enjoy Cato-to-Tommy Shuler touchdowns, develop a good stump speech for why strength of schedule doesn’t matter, and hopefully, watch the college football landscape around Huntington, West Virginia burn, burn, burn.