The first set of College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday, meaning extra scrutiny will be placed on this week’s results by elite teams heading into Monday’s start of selection committee deliberations.
In a season loaded with a larger-than-normal number of undefeated teams, the eye test figures to be crucial to the 13 committee members who will assemble in Grapevine to establish the first set of rankings. That means a strong round of closing arguments would be wise this week for the 12 undefeated teams remaining in The Associated Press poll, as well as the large knot of one-loss teams considered playoff-worthy.
Four of those teams play in the Big 12: No. 2 Baylor (7-0), No. 5 TCU (7-0), No. 12 Oklahoma State (7-0) and No. 14 Oklahoma (6-1). All but Baylor are in action this week, with TCU getting things started Thursday in Fort Worth against West Virginia (6:30 p.m., FS1).
The committee’s final round of 2014 deliberations resulted in Big 12 co-champs TCU and Baylor being the two highest-ranked teams omitted from last year’s playoff field, a finding that triggered lots of local angst. For fans of both programs, the scars remain fresh.
I’m always going to think we’re No. 1. You ask me in July, I’ll say we’re No. 1. You ask me in February, I’ll say, ‘1.’ Why would I say anybody else is better than us?
Baylor coach Art Briles
The desire for redemption is huge at both schools, which requires impressing the playoff committee in 2015. Baylor coach Art Briles admits to a larger-than-normal case of curiosity about whether the Bears will open inside the four-team playoff projection window, as most analysts predict.
“Yeah, I’m curious. I wouldn’t be completely honest if I said I wasn’t,” said Briles, whose team has won all of its games by at least 18 points but lost starting quarterback Seth Russell to a season-ending neck injury in last week’s 45-27 victory over Iowa State. “I’m not sure how much my curiosity is going to change anything. I think it’s been proven it’s got zero effect.”
With his team on a bye week and guaranteed to be among the handful of undefeated candidates under consideration for Tuesday’s initial top spot in the CFP rankings, Briles offered a thought for committee members.
The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday, but the set that really matters is Dec. 6 when the four-team playoff field for semifinal games in the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl will be announced.
“I’m always going to think we’re No. 1,” Briles said. “You ask me in July, I’ll say we’re No. 1. You ask me in February, I’ll say, ‘1.’ Why would I say anybody else is better than us?”
Briles also agreed the only CFP rankings worth the paper they are printed on is the final set that will be released Dec. 6, announcing the four-team playoff field for semifinal games in the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl.
Until that set of rankings surfaces, here are things to ponder and some suggestions for fans of Big 12 teams harboring playoff hopes:
Better nonconference results. Seven of the league’s 10 members posted undefeated nonconference records in September. Last year, the total was three. The stronger the overall league résumé, the better the opportunity for the league champ to survive a close set of committee deliberations.
7 Big 12 teams, out of 10, that posted undefeated nonconference records in September.
Root for Pac-12 chaos. The Pac-12 has no remaining undefeated teams and could become the first Power 5 league in the playoff era to crown a league champion with two or more losses. If that happens, there will be more wiggle room on Dec. 6 for a Big 12 champ with an 11-1 record.
Root for your fellow contenders. This one runs counter-flow for fans, but it’s true. The more the Big 12’s playoff frontrunners separate themselves from non-contenders before playing one another in high-stakes November matchups, the better the league’s chances to produce a playoff team.
Root for Texas. This one runs counter-flow at nine other Big 12 campuses but also has merit. The Longhorns (3-4) are out of the playoff picture. But the national perception of the Big 12’s strength always will be skewed by the football performances of OU and Texas. OU is doing its part and, if Texas could carry a 7-4 record into is Dec. 5 finale at Baylor, that would enhance the value of victories over the Longhorns by TCU and OSU in the eyes of committee members. It also would diminish the impact of the Sooners’ 24-17 loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Las Vegas is buying in … for now. No one can predict how CFP committee members will assess playoff candidates. But oddsmakers in Las Vegas make their living by projecting future results and they seem to like the playoff chances for Big 12 teams. Four of the 11 teams given the best chances to win this year’s national championship, based on odds released this week by Bovada Sports Book, play in the Big 12: Baylor (11-2), TCU (16-1), Oklahoma State (25-1) and Oklahoma (40-1).
No. 1 Ohio State has the best odds (11-5), with Baylor and Alabama both at 11-2 despite Russell’s season-ending injury against Iowa State. The league-by-league breakdown of the top 11 candidates: Big 12 (4), Big Ten (3), SEC (2), ACC (1), Pac-12 (1) and Notre Dame, an independent.
Brace for upheaval. With no results in the books between the Big 12 contenders, the outcomes of November meetings between the four schools in playoff position will eliminate multiple hopefuls. That is inevitable. The question is how tall the survivor will be standing by Dec. 6.
Four of the 11 teams given the best chances to win this year’s national championship, based on odds released by Bovada Sports Book, play in the Big 12: Baylor (11-2), TCU (16-1), Oklahoma State (25-1) and Oklahoma (40-1).
No. 5 TCU 52, West Virginia 35 (Thursday, 6:30 p.m., FS1): Frogs remain undefeated heading into November, when the real fun begins.
Texas 28, Iowa State 20 (Saturday, 6 p.m., FS1): Longhorns finally reach the .500 mark after a 1-4 start put heat on coaches, players.
No. 14 Oklahoma 71, Kansas 14 (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., FS1): Sooners offense rolling in high gear as it prepares to face a porous defense.
No. 12 Oklahoma State 45, Texas Tech 42 (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN): Cowboys defense does just enough to avoid an upset in Lubbock. But expect a close call from the Red Raiders.
Last week: 4-0