TCU won easily Saturday and lost big Sunday.
Ohio State, buoyed by a 59-0 thrashing of Wisconsin in Saturday’s Big 10 championship game, leap-frogged past TCU on Sunday to earn the fourth and final spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
TCU fell to No. 6 — despite beating Iowa State 55-3 Saturday in the Frogs’ regular season finale at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Fans across Fort Worth were crushed by the news, considering that TCU had been ranked No. 3 last week.
“I don’t see how they (the committee) can explain moving us from 3 to 6 after our game,” TCU sophomore Dean Straka said. “It’s a cop-out.”
The final rankings, announced on ESPN on Sunday morning, are: Alabama, 1; Oregon, 2; Florida State, 3; and Ohio State, 4.
Baylor, which had been ranked No. 6 — and went as far as hiring a PR firm to plead its case — moved to No. 5 in the final standings after beating ninth-ranked Kansas State on Saturday.
Baylor and TCU both finished 11-1 and were named co-champions of the Big 12, which had a role in keeping both teams out of the Final Four. The Big 12, which has 10 members, has been criticized for not having a conference championship game.
“That will cause us to go back to the drawing board a little bit and talk about whether or not we need to think about a different model,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN after the final playoff ranking.
TCU coach Gary Patterson described the Frogs’ season as a “great journey” and did not question the committee’s decision.
“I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t surprised we dropped from 3 to 6,” Patterson said. “But outside of that, you’ve got to go forward. I would do my team a disservice if I said anything else. They played their tails off all year long. And we are a young football team. So we just need to keep growing up and keep moving forward.”
Students and fans, who gathered in Fort Worth and at TCU to watch the highly anticipated announcement, were clearly disappointed.
At Christ Chapel Bible Church, which meets at the Aardvark bar on West Berry Street, a TV was turned on as church ended. As the announcers counted down the top four spots, students pushed closer to the screen.
“No!” they yelled when the screen showed Ohio State at No. 4. Some hurried outside, disgusted.
Many fans, including Roy Perkins, whose daughter attends the school, said they understand Ohio State’s improved ranking but feel bad for the TCU players.
“They did everything they could,” Perkins said of the team. “It’s disappointing, especially for the seniors, that these guys missed out.”
The fans said the Frogs’ strong season — and the national recognition that came with it — meant a lot for TCU, a private school that is much smaller than the four football powerhouses in the playoff.
“The team was a rallying point for all of us to celebrate around our school,” TCU sophomore Austin Thornburg said. “Week in and week out, we proved ourselves this year.”
The campus will be “bummed” and the snub “stings,” they said, but they’re still proud of their team.
“A lot of people were really hoping for something good,” junior Shaun Hagerty said.
There’s always next year, one student said.
Next for TCU is the Dec. 31 Peach Bowl in Atlanta, where the Frogs will play No. 9 Mississippi.
The committee speaks
Alabama will play Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon will meet Florida State in the Rose Bowl, both set for Jan. 1.
The winners of those games will meet Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium for the First College Football Playoff championship game.
The CFP selection committee of 12 met in Grapevine over the weekend to decide the final rankings, which became increasingly challenging as Saturday’s key games unfolded.
With Alabama and Oregon virtual locks in the Final Four, TCU had no problems with Iowa State, Ohio State absolutely killed Wisconsin, Baylor manhandled Kansas State and Florida State survived Georgia Tech.
That left the committee with two spots for four teams. But because Florida State is undefeated, it was assumed to be safely in, even though the committee bumped the Seminoles from No. 3 to No. 4 last week after Florida State’s lackluster win over Florida.
TCU, meanwhile, had moved up to No. 3, while Ohio State was No. 5 and Baylor No. 6 — setting up a weekend that lived up to its chaotic billing.
So really, it came down to one spot for three teams — TCU, Ohio State and Baylor.
Ohio State got the nod, prompting TCU student Thornburg to question whether the committee’s weekly rankings mean anything.
“TCU didn’t do anything worth dropping them three spots,” Thornburg said.
Staff writers Carlos Mendez and Lee Williams contributed to this report.
Mark David Smith, 817-390-7808
Key bowl games
11:30 a.m. Dec. 31, Atlanta
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 9 Mississippi
11:30 a.m. Jan. 1, Arlington
No. 5 Baylor vs. No. 8 Michigan State
4 p.m., Jan 1. ,Pasadena, Calif.
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State
7:30 p.m. Jan. 1, New Orleans
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State
College Football Playoff national championship
7:30 p.m. Jan. 12, Arlington
Rose Bowl winner vs. Sugar Bowl winner