Let’s start by pointing out that we have no idea how the CFP selection committee will weigh a conference championship. The protocols state that a conference championship is just a tiebreaker between teams with similar records, but we saw last week that the committee ignores these protocols when it sees fit. It could be that the committee will only consider conference champions for the playoff. And while that is highly unlikely, we have to consider that a possibility at the end of the day because, since there are no precedents here, we just don’t know.
What the CFP Selection Committee Taught Us: College Week 14
Let’s disregard that as a possibility, though. First of all, it’s a bit absurd. It would detract all meaning from much of the regular season (and all meaning from non-conference games) and would force the committee to put in teams with clearly inferior resumes. Jeff Long has been hinting that conference championships will matter a lot, but I can’t see them mattering that much.
So now we are down to these final rankings. I won’t even discuss the bottom of the rankings, where it has been clear all season that the committee really didn’t bother to look at resumes or care to be consistent. That’s fine. The only rankings that really matter are the Top Four (and by slight extension the Top Ten due to the other access bowls) so that’s all we’re really going to discuss.
First of all, the committee showed that they are still using their inane “game control” factor when they dropped Florida State a spot after another close win against a not-so-great team. They are definitely leaving the concern alive that Florida State can fall with a close win over Georgia Tech (especially if Ohio State blows out Wisconsin or Baylor blows out Kansas State). Let us be very clear: That will not happen. No matter how much the committee has shown they don’t mind ruffling feathers or going against the grain, they will not leave an undefeated Florida State out of the playoff. The one thing the CFP cannot afford is a split title. It would destroy all the legitimacy they are claiming to give their playoff. They will not leave an undefeated power conference team out. They just cannot afford to.
The other major area of debate was TCU versus Baylor. Baylor beat TCU earlier this year but the committee has consistently kept the Horned Frogs ahead of the Bears. Many are very upset by this but I don’t see a problem. I can hopefully elaborate on this more in a separate post, but one game is not the entire season. These teams played other games and if TCU’s resume overall is better, so be it. Many people also think that TCU is safe right now because they jumped Florida State. But we have no idea what the committee is thinking. It could be that if Baylor trounces a Top Ten Kansas State team that the committee will jump them over TCU. And then, since TCU isn’t a conference champion (at least, not a sole champion like Florida State or Ohio State would be), they could get jumped again and miss out of the playoff.
As has been true for several weeks now, the only teams that truly control their own destiny are Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State. The other important thing that Jeff Long said, and I feel he got this right, is that the committee is not punishing Ohio State for J.T. Barrett’s injury–yet. If they see that the team drops off without him, that will be considered. And if they can beat Wisconsin and still look like a top team using Cardale Jones or Jalin Marshall or whoever else they can find, then the committee will consider that as well. What they would have done if he had gone down next week (or if Oregon loses Mariota next week or if Florida State loses Winston, etc.) could be an whole different story though.
Now, we again don’t know how much conference championships will be valued, but it seems clear that, as we have said before, there are only eight teams still in consideration for the CFP. Everyone else is just too far behind at this point. Wisconsin or Georgia Tech might jump idle Michigan State and Mississippi State with wins, but they won’t be able to jump Alabama or Oregon even if they lose. That’s just too far of a gap. And with Arizona playing Oregon and Baylor playing Kansas State, those are two spots where the winner is guaranteed to be ahead of Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, and Missouri.
And that’s where we stand. Eight teams, one more week of games, and every single one of those eight will be playing this week. TCU has by far the easiest game against 2-9 Iowa State. Then again, a very bad Iowa State team ruined another Big XII team’s national title dreams back in 2011, so anything can happen. The real precedent that will matter will be what the committee teaches us this coming Sunday. And if you thought the rage was crazy now, when the rankings don’t matter, just wait until we see who is fifth then.
Thank you for reading. Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter – @Yesh222.
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