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Navy helps College Football Playoff committee by losing to Houston

Navy helps College Football Playoff committee by losing to Houston
Coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame received a boost in the College Football Playoff hunt when Navy missed a chance to make the American Athletic Conference title game. (Mel Evans / Associated Press)

The most exciting consecutive days of the regular season began Friday with the College Football Playoff selection committee receiving a government bailout.

The service academy Lou Holtz once referred to as "The University of Navy" saved college football from possibly having to ask for a final-exam extension.

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Navy helped the committee by losing, 52-31, to Houston.

The Dec. 6 bowl-game selections could have been compromised had No. 15 Navy, the highest ranked Group of Five team, won the American Athletic Conference. Winning the AAC would have made Navy the likely candidate for a New Year's Day bowl as the top champion from the five "non-power" leagues.

The problem: the committee could not pencil Navy into a spot — either the Peach or the Fiesta bowls — until after its Dec. 12 nonconference game against Army.

Navy winning the AAC would have also forced the committee to rank title-contender Notre Dame without knowing how Navy performed against Army. That was important because Navy is one of Notre Dame's most impressive wins this season.

College Football Playoff officials recently announced contingency plans in case Navy was still in the mix, but Houston made it all moot.

Unlike the old Bowl Championship Series system, which was frequently cursed with troublesome scenarios, the new system has twice dodged bullets.

Last year, the committee faced a dicey call about whether the final spot in the national semifinals should go to Ohio State or a Big 12 Conference co-champion, Baylor or Texas Christian.

The Big 12 helped the committee by refusing to designate a champion, even though Baylor won the head-to-head matchup.

Ohio State helped the committee by winning the Big Ten Conference title game, 59-0, over Wisconsin.

The panel looked like geniuses when Ohio State knocked off No.1 Alabama and No.2 Oregon, on its way to the national title.

Navy's loss Friday eliminates the chance it can play for next week's AAC championship, which will now be hosted by Houston. And the loss also hurts Notre Dame's resume and somewhat validates the committee's controversial decision to drop the Irish this week to No. 6.

Notre Dame also got pinged without playing when another opponent it defeated, Pittsburgh, lost to Miami. It also didn't help the Irish that No. 4 Iowa won at Nebraska on Friday.

Notre Dame is still in the playoff race but faces a tough game at No. 9 Stanford on Saturday.

Notre Dame and Stanford, which also still has an outside shot at making the playoff, want a team other than No. 3 Oklahoma to win the Big 12.

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Oklahoma plays at Oklahoma State on a Saturday that includes Ohio State at Michigan, Alabama at Auburn, Florida State at Florida, UCLA at USC and possibly Les Miles' last game at Louisiana State.

The Tigers host Texas A&M as rumors continue to swirl that Miles will soon be dismissed.

"I don't know anything other than let's go to work," Miles said this week.

Miles has a record of 110-32 in his 11th season in Baton Rouge. His team was 7-0 and ranked No. 2 before three straight defeats started the speculation.

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