The selection committee delivered an emphatic message Tuesday night, practically anointing the four teams that will make the inaugural College Football Playoff field. That leaves Baylor and Ohio State on the outside looking in, even if they won their respective final regular-season games.
By moving TCU up one spot to No. 3—over undefeated Florida State (12-0)—the committee is indicating that the Horned Frogs' playoff position is unassailable as long as they defeat 2-9 Iowa State at home Saturday. A Baylor victory over Kansas State will earn the Bears a co-Big 12 championship, but that, along with their 61-58 win over TCU earlier in the season, won't be enough for them to leapfrog TCU.
So that's where we stand with five days remaining before the committee's final rankings are revealed Sunday morning. Here are five other observations:
1. Head-to-head matters, sort of
While it's listed as one of the major criteria for the committee, chairman Jeff Long has consistently downplayed its value. After Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby artfully declined to name "one true champion" on Monday, Long echoed that sentiment a day later.
This gives the committee a convenient out in terms of following one of its other major criteria—conference championship—since the Horned Frogs will be able to share the Big 12 title with the Baylor-Kansas State winner as long as they beat Iowa State.
2. Florida State, undefeated, unloved
Another week, another win, and the Seminoles dropped another spot. Jameis Winston and Co. have strung together a series of ugly victories, but being the only unbeaten team in FBS somehow isn't good enough for the committee (or the Associated Press Top 25, which seems to be aping the committee of late).
The silver lining for FSU is that it's not in danger of falling out of the playoff field as long as it beats No. 11 Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game Saturday, which will account for its best win of the season, according to the current rankings.
3. How would BCS standings have looked?
If the late, great Bowl Championship Series was still in business, its standings would've yielded the same four playoff teams, though in a slightly different order. Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and TCU would be in the top four, with Ohio State and Baylor significantly behind.
A composite of over 100 computer rankings would in fact put Ohio State in the playoff field ahead of Florida State, with Baylor a long way down at No. 8.
4. If there are upsets of Top Four teams, then what?
Other than TCU, the teams currently in the playoff field are all playing conference championship games this weekend. If any of them lose, it figures to benefit Ohio State and Baylor. But because of its ranking, don't discount the possibility of No. 7 Arizona jumping into the four-team playoff with a second victory over Oregon.
5. Stay up late for Group of Five crowning
Boise State is the only team not from the Power Five conferences in the rankings. If the Broncos defeat 6-6 Fresno State for a second time this season, they will clinch their third major bowl bid in nine years, likely another Fiesta Bowl berth. It'll be a late, late show since the Mountain West Championship Game is the last game Saturday night with a 10 p.m. ET kickoff.
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