LITTLE ROCK — Those who are writing the Big Ten out of the College Football Playoff, use a pencil.

LITTLE ROCK — Those who are writing the Big Ten out of the College Football Playoff, use a pencil.


The premise that Big Ten teams can overcome a bunch of early-season, nonconference losses is based on the fact that the five power conferences are not equal. Because they play the best football and have several good teams, the SEC and the Pac-12 will be in the CFP even if the league champion is 12-1. On the other hand, a 12-1 winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Big 12 is no lock.


Granted, the Big Ten is in a tenuous spot because of losses to Oregon, Virginia Tech, LSU and Notre Dame and a close call against McNeese State, but much can happen between now and the first weekend in December.


Consider the fallout if Florida State stumbles against Clemson, Louisville, Notre Dame, or a supposedly revitalized Florida or if the Oklahoma-Baylor winner loses one of its other eight conference games.


Are the once-beaten Seminoles or Sooners or Bears automatically better than a Michigan State or an Ohio State that is 12-1 and on a long winning streak?


Would the committee refuse to consider that the Spartans wilted in near 100-degree heat at Eugene, Ore., after impressively building a nine-point lead with 21 minutes to play?


Would the 13 members ignore the development of freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett following his three interceptions and seven sacks vs. the confounding defense of Bud Foster?


Generally, those in a rush to fill out the bracket have settled on FSU, the Oklahoma-Baylor winner, the SEC champion, and the Pac-12 champion.


Too darn easy. Upsets abound in college football and remember that many schools have yet to play a conference game. For instance, five SEC teams, including Alabama, LSU, and Mississippi State in the Western Division, are 0-0 in league play.


The general consensus is that defending national champion FSU is head and shoulders above others in the ACC. But, the bullseye can be a burden, no team plays well every week, and little things can do in the favorite. Ask Georgia and Louisville.


The Bulldogs lost to South Carolina because of a questionable grounding call and a field goal attempt that didn’t hook. The Cardinals lost to Virginia because a fumbled punt led to a field goal deep in the fourth quarter.


In the Big 12, both the Sooners and the Bears have nine conference games upcoming.


Although the conference championship is part of the criteria to be employed by the committee picking the four semifinalists, there are two independents lurking that could make a mess of things.


Already, Brigham Young is getting some attention, mostly because the Cougars beat a so-so Texas and because they have an easy schedule. You only have to go back to 13-0 TCU in 2010 or 14-0 Boise State in 2009 to know that unbeatens such as BYU deserve a chance as much as a once-beaten league champion. Although BYU might be a tough sell, a 12-0 Notre Dame would be a lock.


In October and November, the Fighting Irish play Stanford, North Carolina, FSU , Arizona State, Louisville, and USC, a combined 13-3.


Three quarterbacks who have played in the national championship game are still around and some believe that FSU’s Jameis Winston and Auburn’s Nick Marshall will repeat. Why not Everett Golson, who led Notre Dame to the title game as a freshman, and then received an academic suspension.


A lesser person would have transferred. Instead, he hung in and it was Golson who had inspiring words for his teammates Saturday after Purdue had recovered a fumble and taken a four-point lead.


Tracking the chase for the CFP will be a long-running roller-coaster ride, beginning Thursday night with Auburn vs. Kansas State. Other games this week with potential impact include Florida-Alabama and Mississippi State-LSU in the SEC, plus Clemson at Florida State.


Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: hleonk42@gmail.com.