When the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday night, the committee unveiled another major surprise. Not only was TCU ranked in the Top 4 – which, despite losing head-to-head against Baylor this season, wasn’t necessarily a surprise – but they were also ranked AHEAD of undefeated Florida State.
The TCU-Baylor debate is fascinating for so many reasons. First, these two teams are in the same conference, and they played a round robin schedule. Baylor beat TCU. They each have one loss. So what I’m saying is, if I were a Baylor fan, I’d want to punch a wall whenever I look at the rankings.
But this isn’t just about the committee. The Big 12 has come out and said it will not recognize Baylor’s head-to-head victory over TCU if the two schools are tied for first place at the end of this weekend. Why is it doing that? For starters, TCU’s resume is remarkable and objectively better than Baylor’s. The Big 12 is betting that its best chance, as a conference, to walk away with a national championship is to push TCU into the Final Four, a good assumption. Still, it’s awfully cold to watch the Big 12 leave Baylor out to dry, a program that has had a mostly spectacular season.
I’ve said this plenty of times — I think TCU is better than Baylor. I also don’t really have a problem with the Horned Frogs being ranked ahead of the Bears, but it sets a precedent that the committee will have to answer to in the future. According to the committee, apparently, head-to-head really doesn’t matter, at least not as much as the eye test does. That’s fine with me, but they can’t use head-to-head as a determining factor between two close teams in the future now.
Is the committee making a huge mistake? Let’s ask the Bluth Family:
By putting TCU third, the committee is basically saying they’re in the playoff field. TCU isn’t losing to Iowa State; they’re nearly favored by five touchdowns. Baylor has a tough game against Kansas State, and even if the Bears completely dismantle the Wildcats, I doubt they move into the playoff field unless someone loses. Even Ohio State is still ahead of Baylor.
As for Florida State fans, I wouldn’t worry too much about being demoted to fourth. The committee won’t drop them any further, so all they have to do is beat Georgia Tech on Saturday. In fact, if Florida State remains in the fourth spot, they would actually play closer to home in their first game. Plus, a Florida State-Alabama matchup in the Sugar Bowl in the semifinals would be an amazing game to watch.
Season: 17-25 ATS
You thought my terrible picks went away for good? Nope. I’m like the Fast and the Furious franchise. I will never go away, and the results will continually get worse.
Home team in ALL CAPS
1. Florida State (-4) over Georgia Tech
It seems like Georgia Tech is the trendy upset pick of the week. I understand why. Florida State lets every team hang around, and it’s hard to imagine them winning every game like that. The Yellow Jackets are the best team the Seminoles have faced all year, and Paul Johnson’s triple option attack could be problematic for Florida State’s defense.
I expect this game to be close because, well, it’s a Florida State game. I thought at some point the ‘Noles would play a complete game this year, but it’s looking like they’re just going to play to the level of their competition every week.
Prediction: Florida State 30, Georgia Tech 24.
2. Alabama (-14.5) over Missouri
This one won’t be close. Missouri benefited from a weak SEC East, yet again, and they’re back in the SEC title game for the second year in a row. Credit Gary Pinkel for getting the Tigers to this point, but they have beaten one team with a winning conference record in the SEC in the last two years.
Missouri’s defensive line could give Alabama some trouble, and receiver Bud Sasser is one of the best receivers in the league. But I’d be surprised if this game was close for more than a half. Alabama is better than Missouri in every phase of the game, and the Tigers have no one who can stop Amari Cooper. (Spoiler Alert: no one does.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t9nLPf-eb4 Prediction: Alabama 38, Missouri 10.
3. Wisconsin (-4) over Ohio State
If Ohio State wins this game with its third string quarterback making his first career start, just give Urban Meyer the Coach of the Year award. The fact that Meyer had the Buckeyes in this position after losing Braxton Miller before the season started is impressive enough as it is. With a healthy J.T Barrett, I think Ohio State would win this one in a shootout. Without Barrett, I’d be surprised if the Buckeyes are effective enough offensively to keep up with Wisconsin’s rushing attack, led by Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon.
Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 17.
4. Arizona (+14.5) over Oregon
Oregon is the hottest team in the country right now. Everything points to the Ducks winning big in a revenge game against Arizona. They have future Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta playing the best football of his career, and the offensive line is finally healthy.
However, in their last two meetings, Arizona has beaten Oregon twice by a combined score of 73-40. Rich Rodriguez has something figured out about Oregon’s offense, and the Wildcats have an outside chance of making the playoffs if they can upset the Ducks again.
I still think Oregon wins the game, but Arizona keeps it close.
Prediction: Oregon 41, Arizona 31.
5. Kansas State (+7.5) over BAYLOR
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not even sure a blowout win for Baylor over Kansas State would be enough for them to leapfrog the Horned Frogs in the rankings. Bill Snyder has done yet another tremendous job this year at Kansas State, and I think they pull off the outright upset on the road. That would at least make the committee’s job much easier.
Prediction: Kansas State 34, Baylor 31.
6. Oklahoma State (+20.5) over OKLAHOMA
I’m banking on this one being close, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys pulled off the upset. Oklahoma should win, but I’ve said that in just about every game they’ve played this year. They’re as talented as any team in the country, but they have been disappointing throughout most of the season. Prediction: Oklahoma State 45, Oklahoma 41.
• You didn’t think I would write 1,000 words without mentioning Auburn did you? If Auburn can finalize the deal to make Will Muschamp its defensive coordinator, it would make up for a disappointing season. (No matter what I’ve said about him.) Auburn desperately needs help on defense. Not just with in-game coaching, but also with recruiting and acquiring depth. As long as Gus Malzahn is the head coach, Auburn won’t have a defense that leads the nation in scoring defense. It’s just impossible with an offense that scores so quickly.
To win a national title, Auburn needs a defense that allows somewhere between 21-24 points per game. The Tigers only had three games all year scoring less than 30 points, and they lost two of those games. The last time Auburn had an elite defense was when Muschamp was the defensive coordinator in 2007. It’s time to bring back Coach Boom.
• To me, only three players should be invited to the Heisman ceremony in New York next Saturday night: Marcus Mariota, Amari Cooper and Melvin Gordon. If the season ended today, Mariota should be the winner. Both Cooper and Gordon have chances to make a late push on Saturday, but unless Mariota throws three picks and Oregon loses — which would have consequences that transcend Mariota’s chances at an award — I’d be shocked if he didn’t win the award.
• Some people are praising the Jim McElwain hire and crediting Jeremy Foley for finding a coach from the Nick Saban coaching tree. (Not me.) You know who else was part of the Nick Saban coaching tree? Will Muschamp — the guy Foley just fired! Muschamp followed Saban around for years, and he is a defensive coach like Saban. McElwain was Saban’s offensive coordinator for three years. Also, McElwain spent more time under John L. Smith than he did Saban, but you probably won’t hear much about that one.
Cole Frederick (@ColeFred24) is a staff writer for The High Screen and a student at the University of Mississippi.