The inaugural season of the College Football Playoffs is coming to a head with the most anticipated top four rankings to be announced Sunday at 12:30 pm ET. Coming into the final week of play there were a plethora of situations that could come about that could affect the final standings.
The top two teams in the polls handled their business in impressive fashion in their conference title games. Alabama faced Missouri in the SEC Championship and came away victorious, virtually solidifying their place in the tournament. Oregon dominated Arizona at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco in the Pac 12 Championship game. You can write those two teams in Sharpie, because they are locks.
The real debate shows up where you have four teams vying for the final two spots in the tournament: Florida State, TCU, Baylor, and Ohio State. Each team has strong arguments as to why they should be punching their ticket to college football’s big dance.
Let’s take a look at the teams competing in the Hunger Games for the final two spots.
Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles are undefeated….as in ‘HAVEN’T LOST A GAME’!! Regardless of how the games look, or how poorly Jameis Winston can play in the first half of contests, this team finds ways to win. And that has to account for something. If this committee leaves FSU off of the list, then the credibility of this committee should be in question. In my opinion, Florida State should be a lock in the top two spots. Another thing to consider is the fact that the Seminoles have had a target on their back all season with teams giving their best effort every week.
Ohio State has disproved doubters on two separate occasions this season. The first was when quarterback Braxton Miller went down for the year with a shoulder injury. Pollsters and experts questioned J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes ability to even get to the Big 10 championship. Barrett played tremendously and suffered an unfortunate injury against hated-rival Michigan. Once again, the experts wanted to drop Ohio State out of the conversation due to injury (which is blasphemous). All Ohio State did was go out and have their way with Wisconsin and Heisman hopeful, Melvin Gordon.
TCU had the easiest regular season finale with a match-up against Iowa State. The Horned Frogs were playing for at least a share of the Big 12 title. Gary Patterson’s team went out and did exactly what they were supposed to do, and that was win and win big. Their Strength of Schedule ranks 45th, second worst among these four contenders. TCU went 4-1 against ranked teams, with the lone loss coming against Baylor in a 61-58 game in Waco. The committee is going to look at that head to head match-up to decide, but I think another game is more telling: West Virginia. We’ll address that at the end.
The Baylor Bears sport the lowest Strength of Schedule, 64th, of these four teams in contention for the final two spots. They finished the regular season on a high note with a victory over #9 Kansas State to split the Big 12 Championship with TCU. Coach Art Briles is making the rounds to lobby for his teams admission to the dance, but it may not be enough.
TCU and Baylor are in the same position. Baylor wants, and will get, their head-to-head game recognized with the committee, but when I looked at both schedules side by side, I noticed that Baylor’s lone loss came at the hands of West Virginia.
Both TCU and Baylor made the trip to Morgantown. BU lost 41-27 the week after they put up 61, but allowed 58, against TCU. TCU made the trip two weeks later and barely got out 31-30. The Bears had faced an unranked Mountaineer squad, while TCU faced them while they were ranked and on a four game winning streak.
The head-to-head showdown was more of a display of a lack of defense than showing dominance over an opponent.
My CFP Rankings
- Florida State
One and two were obvious locks, and Florida State is another team that cannot be logically held out from the chance to play for the National Title.
I gave to edge to TCU because of Strength of Schedule. They played against five ranked teams, and they lone loss game to a ranked Baylor squad.
Baylor has the lowest Strength of Schedule, and though they were 3-0 against ranked opponents, they faltered against unranked West Virginia. Yeah, they won head-up with TCU, but lost badly to a team that TCU beat.
Ohio State was initially my number four team into the CFP, but I dropped them due to their schedule. It ranks 54th, which only surpasses Baylor out of these final four teams. They have definitely made a strong push by going 3-0 against ranked opponents. They shouldn’t be knocked for the injury at quarterback, though. Even though it was in week two, they did lose to an eventual 6-6 Virginia Tech team, worse loss by any of these four squads.
This is exciting times for college football fans, but just like the BCS, somebody is going to be salty. The first two teams left out will be the first to denounce the new system and ask for expansion.