Saturday, December 6, 2014

First Final Four in New Era

The College Football Playoff selection committee has some hard choices to make. Starting Friday night in Santa Clara, Calif., and ending Saturday night in Indianapolis, every one of its top six teams from last week won. And it only has four playoff spots to dole out.

But forget the canard that the selection committee looks at the entire picture from scratch every week; the 12 members already tipped their hand last week. The top three teams—Alabama, Oregon and TCU—all won impressively to claim a piece of their respective conference championships. No. 4 Florida State as usual labored to win its game, but as the only unbeaten team in the FBS it will get to defend its national title.

That leaves Ohio State and Baylor on the outside, but the committee can reasonably defend its decision for leaving them out. These two teams easily had the worst losses among the contenders—Ohio State to 6-6 Virginia Tech and Baylor to 7-5 West Virginia—and also the weakest schedules (according to Jeff Sagarin).

Despite Ohio State's impressive thrashing of Wisconsin, the problem remains that the committee views the Big Ten as the weakest Power Five conference, and with good reason. Each of the Big Ten's top four teams lost a nonconference game to a Power Five opponent, and Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech was actually the worst among them.

As for Baylor, its nonconference schedule and how it performed against the nine common opponents will allow the committee to overlook the Bears' head-to-head victory over TCU as both teams shared the Big 12 title with identical 11-1 records.

Of course, unlike the BCS, we can no longer project the rankings with confidence, as the final decision will be made by 12 people and nothing else. And since this is year one of the College Football Playoff, we have no precedent to go by.

That said, this is how we project the committee's final rankings, to be released at 12:45 p.m. ET Sunday.

Projected Final CFP Rankings
RankLwTeamBest Win*Losses*
11AlabamaNo. 8 Miss StateNo. 9 Ole Miss
22OregonNo. 7 Michigan StateNo. 12 Arizona
33TCUNo. 11 Kansas StateNo. 6 Baylor
44Florida StateNo. 10 Georgia TechNone
55Ohio StateNo. 7 Michigan StateVirginia Tech (6-6)
66BaylorNo. 3 TCUWest Virginia (7-5)
78Michigan State2
810Miss State2
912Ole Miss3
109Kansas State3
1111Georgia Tech3
127Arizona3
1314Georgia3
1415UCLA3
1517Arizona State3
1616Missouri3
1713Wisconsin3
1818Clemson3
1919Auburn4
2021Louisville3
2122Boise State2
2223Utah4
2324LSU4
2425USC4
25NRMinnesota4
* Projected rankings

No. 1 vs. No. 4: Alabama vs. Florida State, Sugar Bowl - The matchup of the teams that won the last three national championships will be intriguing. Florida State was wobbly all season but never lost a game, something the other 127 FBS teams couldn't do. Alabama looks primed to continue its dynasty-interrupted with Lane Kiffin calling the shots of a dynamic offense.

No. 2 vs. No. 3: Oregon vs. TCU, Rose Bowl - It'll be TCU's second Rose Bowl berth in five years—only Wisconsin has more appearances in that span. The last time the Horned Frogs were in Pasadena they were the gritty underdogs from the Mountain West and beat the Badgers to finish the season unbeaten. This time they'll face an explosive Oregon team piloted by the presumptive Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Group-of-Five Bid
Boise State, the only non-Power Five team in last week's committee rankings, made things easy for the committee by taking care of Fresno State to win the Mountain West title late Saturday night. The Broncos likely will earn a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, their third in nine years. They beat Oklahoma and TCU in their two previous appearances in the BCS era.

1 comment:

Demosthenes said...

I'm thinking:

#1 Oregon vs. #4 Florida State, Rose Bowl
#2 Alabama vs. #3 Ohio State,
Sugar Bowl
#5 TCU and #6 Baylor, incredibly pissed

Just a few hours to go now...

Google