Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Big 12 Fight to the Finish

TCU, Baylor or Ohio State?

That will be the selection committee's toughest task, picking one of those three teams to place in the College Football Playoff field. Each of the top six teams in the committee's next rankings will be playing this weekend in games they are favored.

The top three teams—Alabama, Oregon and Florida State—will all be playing in their respective conference title games and they're in with a victory. If any of them should lose, it opens the door for another one of the aforementioned "next three."

Ohio State has a major issue. On one hand, the Buckeyes hope the committee won't hold the season-ending injury to Heisman candidate QB J.T. Barrett against them. On the other, they must defeat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game with Barrett's backup Cardale Jones.


So in all likelihood, the final spot will be contested by the two Big 12 teams, with each having a chance to win a share of the conference title. As there is no Big 12 Championship Game, both TCU and Baylor can claim at least to be a co-champion with a win next week.

This is where things get tricky. Baylor defeated TCU 61-58 at home earlier this season, rallying from 21 points down with 11 minutes remaining to hand the Horned Frogs their only loss of the season. But the problem for the Bears is that the committee thinks there's enough of a resume gap between the two teams for the head-to-head result not to matter.

TCU and Baylor each played an FCS team and the Horned Frogs routed Big Ten title contender Minnesota while the Bears blew out MAC also-ran Buffalo. Besides getting a lift from the Gophers' surprising season, TCU also owns a significant advantage over Baylor in the games so far against nine common opponents.

As TCU is unlikely to lose to 2-9 Iowa State, Baylor must defeat Kansas State impressively to have any shot of catching the Horned Frogs in the eyes of the committee. Making the task more difficult is that the Wildcats are playing for much more than spoiler, as they also will claim at least a share of the Big 12 title with a victory.

TCU, Baylor Common Opponents
+56 *SMU+45TCU
+38 *Texas+21 *TCU
+1 *West Virginia-14 *TCU
+33Oklahoma State+21TCU
+55Texas Tech+2TCU
+4Oklahoma+34 *Baylor
+4 *Kansas+46Baylor
Dec. 6Iowa State+21*
+21Kansas StateDec. 6
-3 *Baylor/TCU+3Baylor
* Road game

Other Fun Facts
* Boise State is a victory over 6-6 Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game away from the inaugural CFP group-of-five automatic bid. It will be the Broncos' third major bowl appearance in the last nine seasons and likely it'll be a third Fiesta Bowl berth. Northern Illinois and Memphis figure to be next in line if Boise State somehow stumbles.

* The rest of the 11 bowl slots, of course, will all go to the power five conferences. The SEC will get three berths while the other conferences will receive two each. Mississippi State probably has a bid wrapped up regardless of how the conference championship games go.

* There are a total of 80 bowl eligible teams, with Oklahoma State and Temple can still earn eligibility. Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Old Dominion will not go bowling as they're all in the second year of FBS transition and thus ineligible. Looks like Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, UAB and Ohio—all 6-6— will be left out despite being eligible.

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