Who You Play Matters as Much as How you Play
This just in: Buffalo, SMU and Northwestern State won’t help get you into the College Football Playoff. In related news, a Gopher might just hold the key to which Big 12 team, if any, gets into the final four.
Last night’s latest College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings found a new member in the top-four, thanks to Texas A&M’s upset win over previously No. 3 Auburn. TCU is in. And it has Baylor fans fuming mad.
Two words for you Bears – calm down. Oh, and here’s two more – play someone.
The Big 12 may be touting the company mantra of “One True Champion,” but the truth is it’s highly probable to have two teams in TCU and Baylor at the top as co-champs with identical records when it is all said and done. Baylor beat TCU on the field on October 11 in Waco, marking the Frogs’ only loss so far through nine games.
Yet, it’s TCU that finds itself in the current top-four of the CFP. Why? Well, for one thing, this committee actually ranks teams the correct way, looking at only the results played thus far and not taking into account anything about the remaining schedule. Many voters in the AP poll treat rankings more like a prediction listing rather than a true measure of worth. The CFP committee stated the simple fact that TCU has two top-25 wins versus Baylor’s one, combined with the strength of schedule played to date, gives the Frog the nod and leaves Baylor back at No. 7.
Mississippi State remained at No. 1, Oregon jumped to No. 2 over Florida State, which dropped to No. 3. Alabama and Arizona State are the first two teams out.
What’s refreshing here is that the committee is doing what needs to be done, taking into account the schedule, especially the non-conference slate when it comes to the difference between TCU and Baylor.
Baylor played SMU, Buffalo and Northwestern State, a trifecta which isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. TCU didn’t play a murderer’s row either, playing SMU, Samford and No. 25 Minnesota.
Ah, but those pesky Gophers are key, who currently sport a 7-2 record. That one game on TCU’s schedule currently make a world of difference here in the second week of November.
OK, first the bad news for TCU. The toughest part of their schedule is behind them (though a date in Austin with the Horns could prove dicey). Translation – no real chances to prove themselves anymore and make a statement. More bad news – Minnesota closes out the season with Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. That Frog strength of schedule may take a little dive.
Baylor still plays No. 13 Kansas State and may try and hang a hundred on Oklahoma State next weekend. Heck, they may take this week’s bye out behind the woodshed if it would help. Will that be enough if both the Frogs and Bears run the table? Maybe.
The committee has to be careful here. Reward Baylor based on the head-to-head win combined with the worst non-conference schedule since my son’s pee wee football team basically tells every team one thing – schedule anyone you want. We’ll still let you in.
TCU and Baylor’s biggest threat may not be themselves, but the SEC West. Look, Florida State and Oregon are probably in. We know one of the spots is probably going to the SEC champion, which leaves one spot. Mississippi State still plays at Alabama and at Ole Miss. Let’s say they lose to the Tide and win the Egg Bowl (very possible), while Saban’s bunch adds in a top-10 win over Auburn. That leaves both Bama and MSU at 11-1 and both have played a more difficult schedule than anyone in the Big 12.
These last few weeks are going to be interesting, leaving things up for grabs. While I feel for Baylor fans, schedule someone more competitive than the sandlot kids down the street. I can imagine that Baylor AD Ian McCaw is currently reassessing his 2015 slate to see if it has any possible flaws.
Hmmm, let’s see — SMU, Lamar and Rice. No problem. Hey, Rice is better than Northwestern State, right? It’s all about baby steps. At this pace, Baylor might have a decent non-conference schedule by 2023.
Meanwhile, Frog fans enjoy the ride. And hope the Gophers can stay away from taking losses like they avoided Carl Spackler at Bushwood Country Club.