Why TCU is (and Should Be) Ranked Ahead of Baylor and Ohio State


Posted on December 4th, by Tom Fireoved in All, College Football PLayoff. 13 comments

For all my Baylor friends, my oh-so-many Ohio State relatives, and the general media who went into mass hysteria when the results of the new CFP’s rankings were released Tuesday evening, here, for all of you, is why TCU is correctly ranked ahead of both the Bears and the Buckeyes at this moment in time. I welcome any and all responses/comebacks to the facts I present below:

The first thing you have to look at when considering this situation are the three teams’ schedules and the rankings of the teams they played at the time they played them. Why is this important?  Because team makeup and level of compete change week to week and as the season progresses. For instance, try and convince me Wisconsin isn’t thrilled to be playing Ohio State this week fid12447instead of last when J.T. Barrett was still in the mix. Timing matters. Season momentum changes based on outcomes of games, players getting hurt (or healthy), and motivational wane as a loss or two occur can effect how a season plays out, but not how the team was viewed on that specific Saturday afternoon or night. So let’s stack the schedules and outcomes of the three against one another and see what we get.

Ohio State – Only two top 25 victories: A 49-37 over then #8 Michigan State and a 31-24 victory over then #25 Minnesota (which TCU beat 30-7 by the way). The Buckeyes play #13 Wisconsin Saturday with a chance to improve their resume…..BUT THEY HAVEN’T PLAYED THEM YET!

Baylor – Also only two top 25 victories: Of course the 61-58 win over then #9 TCU and a 48-14 win over then #15 Oklahoma. That’s it. Like the Buckeyes they’ll get a chance to add one more to their resume on Saturday when they play #9 Kansas State – BUT THEY HAVEN’T PLAYED THEM YET!

TCU – OK let’s add ‘em up – 4 top 25 wins including 2 top 10 wins. A 37-33 win over then #4 Oklahoma, a 41-20 win over then #7 Kansas State, a 42-9 win over then #15 Oklahoma State, a 31-30 win over then #20 West Virginia. That’s what the committee sees when they look at the “overall body of work,” as well they should. As of today, right this moment, the committee has it right. Again that might change come Saturday ….BUT IT HASN’T HAPPENED YET!

If you want to dig even deeper, then let’s look at each of the singular losses that each squad has suffered:

The Buckeyes lost at home to a sub-par Virginia Tech team 35-21. A bad loss, no two ways about it. It’s been an albatross around Ohio State’s neck all season….as it should be. They’d love a do-over but it ain’t happening. You don’t think Missouri would like to take back its faux pas against Indiana earlier in the season too? They’d probably be playing Alabama for a spot in the playoff Saturday afternoon if they could. Unfortunately there are no mulligans in football. Slip ups like those are killers.

The Bears one loss was at least on the road, albeit to a then unranked West Virginia team 41-27. Not as bad as the Buckeyes loss for sure, but still a two touchdown loss to an unranked team. I’m not even bringing into the conversation their non conference schedule which is ranked 128th out of 128 FBS schools (ok so I did bring it in – sue me).

The Frogs one loss of course occurred to then #5 Baylor, in Waco, on a last second field goal. Its not even close which of the three has the “best loss” if you want to phrase it that way. Mix that in with twice as many top 25 wins and TCU clearly deserves to be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes and Bears…right now.

Want to look at some specific phases of the game?  Total TD’s allowed by each defense this season: Ohio State – 36, Baylor – 34, TCU – 28.  Total yards gained per game for each teams’ offense?  Ohio State – 333.8, Baylor – 364.5,  TCU – 370.7.  Turnover margin? Ohio State +5, Baylor + 12, TCU + 18. Are these the “end all” when it comes to deciding what team is better than another? Of course not, but they are numbers that come into play.

Listen, I get the head to head thing with TCU and Baylor, but when you look at the overall body of current work of the three schools, it isn’t even close. This is still college football, which has always been part beauty pageant with the need to impress the judges with style points, and TCU’s just done a better job of that so far. There’s always been voters with opinions and agendas, along with the computers and polls, and really nothing has changed much in that regard with the new playoff format. Amid all the hyperbole all we really did was go from 2 to 4 spots that everyone is ultimately shooting for. Can the committee members change their collective minds after Saturday’s results if things play out in Baylor and Ohio State’s favor?  Sure they can – BUT IT HASN’T HAPPENED YET!

Tom Fireoved


Tom Fireoved is the Co-Founder of ScoreBoardTX and President of Franchise Sports & Entertainment, a Dallas based athlete marketing and consulting agency. He formerly served as Vice President of the Texas Rangers and Executive Vice President of the Dallas Stars.





13 thoughts on “Why TCU is (and Should Be) Ranked Ahead of Baylor and Ohio State

  1. Tom,

    Thanks for the post and I appreciate the opportunity to offer feedback.

    The part that gets me is teams can’t control which teams are dynamically ranked at any given time. Baylor and TCU both beat Oklahoma State but TCU gets credit for beating a ranked Oklahoma State. That simply seems arbitrary. Players can control what happens on the field and that is it. Bottom line is they both play in the Big12 and when they met on the field to compete Baylor won. To me winner a game head to head should hold way more weight than relative rankings at the time. Play on the field is the great equalizer, especially when they come from that same conference and play the same conference teams.

    Could you imagine as a kid beating a really good team in junior high, but later someone said they are still better than you because they played better reputation team before district started, although those teams did not necessary finish strong. You wouldn’t in that example. The kids know who is better, the parents know, and so do the coaches on both sides in that situation. However, a writer at the time of the local paper gets to rank the junior highs and they feel one is better than they other because of the dynamic ranking of the teams at the time.

    • Who’s game film do you think Baylor is using to come up with a gameplan? TCU gets to gather Baylor game film on Kansas, Texas and Iowa state oh wait and SMU and can’t use much of WVU bc they got beat by 14! Baylor gets TCU film on OU (no Sterling Shepard their only passing game threat), OSU, KSU and Tech! You don’t think that’s an advantage? Sorry it’s about putting the 4 best teams in the playoff and Refs played a big part in that Baylor win and the following week they were exploited having 200 plus yards in penalties they should of had when playing TCU! Baylor had their opportunity and blew it when they lost by 14 the next week, now it’s up in the air and they can’t complain about what the committee decides! I will say though that I do think they are one of the top 4 teams in the country.

    • No.. Current ranking means a lot more than your giving it credit for..

      Beating a #4 ranked OU team who at the time thought they would be in the playoffs is a lot more meaningful than beating them ranked #18 and already focused on next season..

      Same can be said for OSU, Texas, etc..

      TCU crushed KSU.. Let’s see what happens this weekend to compare.

      I agree with the points made.. TCU has played a harder schedule, has a better loss against a ranked team.

      The Committee is to decide the best 4 teams not who Baylor thinks “should be the big 12 champion”..

      Oh.. And please let’s add two more teams to the big12 to put this to bed moving forward.

  2. It’s like you’ve been at our dinner table discussing how strong the case is for the Horned Frogs. TCU played all the best teams at their peaks, including TX a week ago, and have won every test. The CFB Committee is wise, and their rankings show it. Your article his the bullseye– cheers to you!

  3. There’s a couple problems with this:

    1) The “they were a different team when we played them” argument CAN be valid, but Oklahoma State and West Virginia are NOT teams that have changed significantly over the season. They’re teams that had yet to play the difficult part of their schedule. Oklahoma State was always a paper tiger, and West Virginia’s bump was a product of beating Baylor. Surely under the “how good were they when we played” argument TCU shouldn’t get to benefit from how good West Virginia played against Baylor when Baylor doesn’t.

    2) Comparing teams on things other than H2H is completely valid when H2H isn’t a factor. TCU and Ohio State haven’t played each other, so we have to compare them somehow, so we have to break out the stats. However, every level of every sport has always honored head to head whenever possible. In fact, the playoff system uses a committee rather than the BCS system SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE they felt the BCS didn’t honor head to head enough (this is outlined at the bottom of page 11 of the college football playoff media guide). That’s right, we went with a committee because this was never supposed to happen. They had one job.

    3) Finally, I don’t think there is a single TCU fan who wouldn’t feel exactly the opposite way about head to head if the shoe were on the other foot. Baylor fans, on the other hand, need only point to the fact that they didn’t complain about this exact same situation last year when they were on the other end of the argument against Oklahoma State (that ended up working itself out in the final week which underscores your point that we may just need to wait and see). Baylor fans can also point to last years’a Iron Bowl when the better team lost and no one argued that Auburn’s incredible comeback shouldn’t matter because Alabama had the better “body of work”, or the uproar that happened in 2000 when Florida State made the championship game over a Miami team that had beaten them. They actually changed the BCS formula that year to make sure that didn’t happen again. It was that big of a deal.

    To be fair, I don’t blame TCU for this mess. It’s the committee’s failing. If they had done the right thing weeks ago, TCU fans would’ve understood, but now they’ve set things up so that at least one fan base is going to feel slighted. And I think the national media lining up on Baylor’s side signifies the fact that they understand one thing: head to head competition is supposed to be the point of sports and they’d be burning the town down if it were their favorite team.

  4. It also seems unreasonable that you give TCU credit for beating a ranked Weat Virginia team, while at the same time hold it against Baylor for losing to an unranked West Virginia team. You can’t have it both ways.

  5. Absolutely right Tom, I’m agree with you. Thanks for the clear and accurate information you posted. I’m a Mexican fan who follows each week the NCFAA and I really think TCU deserves to be on the top four and make the playoff. #GoFrogs

  6. I think it is more beneficial to look at the rankings at the end of the season to determine who beat the better team. Teams are consistently ranked higher at the beginning of the season than at the end. Why? Because they haven’t played anyone yet.

    Break that down and what you have is Baylor and TCU–besides WVU–beating all of the same teams.

    Well how did they beat those teams? This is also good to look at. Baylor smashed Oklahoma on a road game. TCU barely beat them at home. Baylor smashed Kansas, TCU had to comeback to win the game. Baylor had to hold off Tech (only after Bryce Petty went down at the start of the 3 QTR) while TCU obliterated them. Everyone knows that teams play much differently week to week, but everyone seems to quickly forget the games TCU struggled in (Oklahoma, WVU, and especially Kansas)

    Finally, in the head to head which I personally think matters most, Baylor won. Thats it. Argument settled. While Baylor did have to overcome a 21 point deficit to win, which is inexcusable for the defense, people fail to look at the flip side that Baylor’s offense scored 24 UNANSWERED POINTS in the 4th Quarter alone. Not only did the defense stand up, but the offense pulled of a spectacular win. Yes the game was a home game for the Bears, but with TCU right up the road from them, it didnt grant that big of an advantage.

    That being said, Baylor SHOULD BE, and after a victory against K State, DEFINITELY should be, ranked ahead of TCU.

    Just dont get me started on the “One True Champion” Big 12 refusing to declare the Bears Big 12 Champs even though the first tiebreaker is Head to head, which again the Bears won.

    rant over

  7. Top 25 wins should only take into consideration the current rankings. The fact that TCU beat Oklahoma State when they were ranked versus when Baylor beat them when the were unranked doesn’t give TCU’s win any more recognition. In week 1, would a win over #9 South Carolina or #11 Stanford look or be more impressive right now than a win versus unranked TCU or Mississippi State? If Baylor beats Kansas State, they will have more true top 25 wins than TCU. They will also have the most impressive win between the 3 teams being compared in this article.

  8. Thank you! Excellent article. I love the Baylor Bears and wanted them to go to the playoffs, but at this point? TCU deserves to go for all the reasons you stated above. Thank you again!

  9. Here’s another round for the chamber (thought it hurts to say it). Tcu put up 80 points on Texas Tech. Baylor had their star qb mocked out mid way through the third and was nearly upset by a 4-7 Texas Tech team. BOOM!

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