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What Teams Will Be Among the 4 in the FBS Playoff for the 2014 National Title?
October 27, 2014
3:25 pm
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keggythekeg
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Stewart Mandel: Great article today
 
 
 
THIS WEEK’S BOWL FORECAST-- October 27

Each week, I'll update my predicted lineup for the New Year’s Six bowls based on the latest week's games.

Disclaimer: This could look very different next week when I have a better sense of how the committee views certain teams.

Peach: Mississippi State (at-large) vs. East Carolina (Group of 5)

Fiesta: Notre Dame (at-large) vs. Kansas State (at-large)

Orange: Clemson (ACC) vs. Alabama (B1G/SEC/ND)

Cotton: Michigan State (Big Ten champ) vs. TCU (Big 12 champ)

    and.....

Sugar (semifinal): No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Oregon

Rose (semifinal): No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Georgia

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October 27, 2014
6:01 pm
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cheerleader111
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October 27 Power Ranking from Playoff Guru (bcsguru.com):

1. Miss. State

2. Auburn

3. Alabama

4. FSU

5. Ole Miss

6. Oregon

7. Georgia

8. Notre Dame

Rose Bowl:   FSU vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl:  Miss. State vs. Notre Dame

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October 28, 2014
8:04 pm
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The Committee of Ten: First ranking

Rank
Team
Record
1 Miss. State 7-0
2  Florida State 7-0
3  Auburn 6-1
4  Mississippi 7-1
5  Oregon 7-1
6  Alabama 7-1
7  TCU 6-1
8  Michigan State 7-1
9  Kansas State 6-1
10  Notre Dame 6-1
11  Georgia 6-1
12  Arizona 6-1
13  Baylor 6-1
14  Arizona State 6-1
15  Nebraska 7-1
16  Ohio State 6-1
17  Utah 6-1
18  Oklahoma 5-2
19  LSU 7-2
20  West Virginia 6-2
21  Clemson 6-2
22  UCLA 6-2
23  East Carolina 6-1
24  Duke 6-1
25  Louisville 6-2
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October 29, 2014
5:02 am
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BCS vs. College Football Committee Rankings Comparison

 
BCS vs. College Football Committee Rankings ComparisonImage Enlarger

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The College Football Playoff selection committee unveiled its first rankings Tuesday night, and they are, in fact, spot-on.

Based on these rankings, we can easily deduce that strength of schedule is of paramount importance to the committee, and head-to-head results are fastidiously considered. Their rankings are more logical and consistent than the two polls, particularly the Amway Coaches Poll, which should now be thoroughly discredited.

The CFP rankings also vary slightly from what the BCS standings would've looked like. The reason for that is rather obvious: the influence of the polls. In the BCS standings used from 2004-2013, the polls accounted for two-thirds of rankings. That element has been completely suppressed as the committee's list bears much more of a resemblance to computer rankings.

Here are the committee's Top 25 teams, as compared to a facsimile of the old BCS standings, our CFP mock standings and the two major polls:

Playoff Committee Rankings Comparison
CFP Rank Team BCS B/R Mock AP Coaches
1 Miss State 1 1 1 1
2 Florida State 2 4 2 2
3 Auburn 4 3 4 3
4 Ole Miss 6 5 7 9
5 Oregon 5 6 5 6
6 Alabama 3 2 3 4
7 TCU 11 9 10 10
8 Michigan State 9 10 8 5
9 Kansas State 10 11 11 11
10 Notre Dame 7 8 6 7
11 Georgia 8 7 9 8
12 Arizona 17 18 14 15
13 Baylor 15 13 12 12
14 Arizona State 13 17 15 14
15 Nebraska 16 14 17 16
16 Ohio State 14 16 13 13
17 Utah 18 21 18 18
18 Oklahoma 19 15 19 20
19 LSU 12 12 16 17
20 West Virginia 21 20 20 22
21 Clemson 20 19 22 21
22 UCLA 24 22 25 25
23 East Carolina* 22 24 21 19
24 Duke 25 30 24 24
25 Louisville NR 29 30 34
NR Marshall 23 23 23 23

*Top group-of-five team

 

Explanations of Rankings

BCS rankings are a simulation of the BCS formula used from 2004-2013 with two exceptions: 1. The AP poll is used in place of the Harris Poll; 2) Sagarin and Massey rankings are their native systems instead of the non-MOV version used for the BCS.

CFP mock rankings are published weekly at Bleacher Report, with components including polls, computers, strength of schedule and conference championships. The full rankings are here.

 

A few highlights, thoughts from committee's first rankings

Committee's rankings don't behave like polls 

That is a good thing—a very good thing. The biggest problem with the BCS in its latter years was that the polls were weighted disproportionately. One of the major beneficiaries of this has been Alabama, which always seems to get more support in the polls than it deserves. The Tide, ranked No. 3 in both polls as well as the would-be BCS standings, are much more accurately placed by the committee at No. 6.

 

Strength of schedule matters, a lot

Image Enlarger USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten is being punished as a weak conference, as Michigan State might not be able to play its way into the playoff even if it wins out. Ohio State, at No. 16, virtually has no chance. The committee also is making an example out of Baylor, which is several spots behind its Big 12 rivals with identical records, because of its pathetic nonconference slate.

 

Where's Marshall?

 

The only team that's in the Top 25 in both polls and would-be BCS standings but omitted by the committee is Marshall, the only other undefeated team besides Mississippi State and Florida State in its rankings. The Thundering Herd have won their eight games by an average of nearly 30 points, but their weak schedule clearly has been a huge detriment.

As of now, East Carolina is the only team from the group-of-five conferences in the rankings.

 

The tournament starts now

Don't be fooled by the bracket that's being put out on TV (and everywhere else). Though there are four SEC West teams in the Top Six, there are four guaranteed losses among those teams as they still have to face each other multiple times. Essentially, eight of the top nine teams—except Michigan State—have a chance to play their way into the playoff, which leaves us with the one real surprise...

 

No luck of the Irish

Image Enlarger USA TODAY Sports

Despite three members with ties to the school (and are not covered under the recusal policy)—Condoleezza Rice, Ty Willingham and Pat Haden—Notre Dame did not get much love from the committee.

At No. 10, the Irish need some help to get into the playoff field even if they finish 11-1. It's a clear indication that the committee isn't fond of horseshoes or hand grenades: Notre Dame's close loss at Florida State doesn't count for much.

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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October 30, 2014
2:12 pm
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SEC rightfully reigns in inaugural College Football Playoff rankings, but change is inevitable

Pat Forde

Yahoo Sports
 
 
SEC bias?

No. It’s not bias. It’s the best league by such a wide margin that the computers, the voters – and, most important of all, the College Football Playoff selection committee – all agree the Southeastern Conference owns the sport at present.

The key words being “at present.” As of Tuesday night, Oct. 28, 2014. It will change, as the SEC West cannibalism accelerates in the coming weeks and other plot twists occur around the rest of the nation.

 

Dak Prescott and Mississippi State sit atop the first version of the College Football Playoff rankings. (AP)Image Enlarger

Dak Prescott and Mississippi State sit atop the first version of the College Football Playoff rankings. (AP)

 

But for now, a single division of a single conference owns three-fourths of the playoff bracket: No. 1 seed Mississippi State, No. 3 Auburn and No. 4 Mississippi. The lone outsider is No. 2 Florida State. (The committee and I are in 75 percent agreement on the field at this point; on Sunday I had the Bulldogs, Seminoles, Tigers and Oregon in my Fab Four, with Ole Miss just on the outside.)

For folks suffering SEC fatigue, this is nauseating news. But it’s the reality of the moment.

The first bracket revealing illustrates the level of triumph SEC commissioner Mike Slive has achieved. Not only did he spearhead the advent of the playoff, he’s the one who fought hardest against limiting the field to conference champions only. Thanks to winning that argument, his league has an opportunity to gobble up as much of the glory and massive financial windfall as it can handle – up to and including 100 percent of it.

It won’t come to that, of course. But if Slive had lost that battle and the playoff were limited to conference champions only, we’d be looking for the moment at a field of Mississippi State, Florida State, Oregon and TCU. The Horned Frogs are seventh in the first selection committee rankings, which means several more accomplished teams would have been left out in order to hand out participation ribbons to more leagues.

This is the better way. The fact that it benefits one league far more than the rest is simply the lay of the land at the moment. I have no major disputes with the committee’s rankings, and very few minor disputes, either. At first glance, they have reinforced my belief that they’ll do this the right way and select the right teams.

Some other rapid reactions to the first rankings:

• The committee is far less in love with Notre Dame than the poll voters are. The Fighting Irish are sixth in the AP poll and seventh in the USA Today coaches poll, but 10th in the selection committee rankings. The committee seems to have put plenty of emphasis on qualify wins, and Notre Dame has none. Stanford’s regression and Michigan’s flop have hurt the Irish resume – and losing close to Florida State is still a loss.

• The lowest-ranked league leader among the power-five conferences is Michigan State and the Big Ten. The Spartans weigh in at No. 8, one spot behind TCU of the Big 12, three being Oregon of the Pac-12, six behind Florida State of the ACC and trailing a mere four SEC representatives. This is only a surprise if you have engaged in wishful thinking or willful denial of the Big Ten’s performance nationally to date. The league hasn’t done enough to merit anything higher. That said, the Spartans are hardly out of the playoff mix; they simply will require some help.

• Related to the above point: the committee nailed Ohio State’s place. It is 16th, three spots lower than where the Buckeyes are in the human polls. The polls are infamous for ranking on laundry and name recognition, not actual resume. The committee saw through that and was unswayed by a team that lost at home to the last-place team in the ACC Coastal Division and has beaten nobody who ranks in the Sagarin top 40. The Buckeyes have done nothing remarkable, and their lone loss is a really bad one. That simple.

• Auburn still has three games left with teams ranked in the selection committee's top 11: No. 4 Mississippi on Saturday; No. 11 Georgia on Nov. 15; and No. 6 Alabama on Nov. 29. Survive that gauntlet and the Tigers’ reward is a potential SEC championship game rematch with Georgia. That’s insane, and likely not survivable without a loss. But, hey, if anyone can make a case for inclusion with two losses …

• TCU’s position is an attractive one. At No. 7, the Horned Frogs have multiple teams in front of them that are guaranteed to lose at least once. The next two weeks could tell the tale for the Frogs – they’re at selection committee No. 20 West Virginia on Saturday and then host No. 9 Kansas State on Nov. 8. Get past those, and the remaining slate is Kansas, Texas and Iowa State – a combined record of 7-15.

• Duke is the lowest-ranked one-loss team at No. 24. Blue Devils have a long way to go.

• But not as far as Marshall. The Thundering Herd is undefeated and unranked.

 

.

Week 10 College Football Playoff rankings. (Photo credit: CollegeFootballPlayoff.com)Image Enlarger

Week 10 College Football Playoff rankings. (Photo credit: CollegeFootballPlayoff.com)

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November 1, 2014
12:05 pm
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I would not be so dismissive of FSU. They win.

Florida State and the art of only looking good when you have to

 

The Seminoles are now 8-0 and probably going to finish undefeated and reach the College Football Playoff. But are they capable of sustaining greatness for long enough to actually beat an elite team?

On Thursday night in Louisville, in front of a packed house at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Florida State did what Florida State tends to do this year: wait until the last possible moment, then hit the accelerator. The Seminoles trailed Louisville by 21-0, 28 minutes into the game, then outscored the Cardinals by a 42-10 margin the rest of the way.

Despite having yet to play a complete, elite game against a good team, they are now 8-0 with only one road game remaining in the regular season. Let's take a look at FSU's constant flirtation with disaster and what it might mean moving forward.

 

1. What doesn't kill you makes you ... not dead yet.

  • Oklahoma State had the ball at its 49, down by 30-24, with five minutes remaining.
  • Clemson had the ball at the FSU 18, tied at 17-17, with barely 90 seconds remaining.
  • NC State was up, 24-7, late in the first quarter.
  • Wake Forest was tied at 3-3 with just over a minute left in the first half.
  • Notre Dame had the game-winning touchdown nullified (correctly) by penalty with 13 seconds left, then had a fourth-down pass intercepted.
  • Louisville reached 21-0 with 2:09 left in the first half.

These are not things that tend to happen with a championship-caliber team. Flirt with death enough, and death usually fulfills the flirtation.

You get 60 minutes to assert yourself as the superior team, and most of the time -- but not always! -- the superior team does just that. If games were only 30 minutes long, more chance would decide the winner. If games were 90 minutes long, chance would be nullified to the point of boredom. Generally speaking, 60 minutes is about right.

In the proverbial boxing match, 2014 Florida State appears content with jabbing and standing in the middle of the ring, killing as much of the clock as possible until the opponent lands a really good blow or six. The Seminoles can't relax until there's a little bit of blood in their mouths. They are willfully giving themselves less (sometimes far less) than 60 full minutes to prove their superiority, and they often give their opponents head starts on the scorecard.

But if FSU was going to suffer such a loss, the schedule tells you it probably would have happened by now.

2. Third downs'll get you.

Heading into the game, the stats told us that Louisville's defense was awesome (first in Def. F/+) and its offense was a bit on the sketchy side (63rd in Off. F/+). That made for some interesting matchups with FSU's awesome offense (eighth) and less-than-elite defense (25th).

When Louisville forced some early turnovers, punishing some iffy throws and decisions by Jameis Winston, it wasn't that much of a surprise. The script for Louisville was a win in the turnovers battle and something in the neighborhood of a 24-20 final score. Nobody holds FSU under 30 points when Winston is behind center, but Louisville was going to have to figure out how to do that.

In the first half, Louisville's offense was writing a different script. The Cardinals had drives of five plays and 73 yards, seven and 80, five and 52, and six and 43. They scored three touchdowns and got stuffed at the FSU 1. Running back Michael Dyer found space to maneuver between the tackles, and receiver Devante Parker, who was injured for much of the early season, dominated. His 71-yard catch set Louisville up for the near-score, and his 21-yard catch was the catalyst for UL's second score. Not only was FSU down 21-0, the Seminoles suddenly looked like they needed 40-plus points to win.

The lifeline: only one team converted third downs, and it wasn't Louisville.

On third-and-goal from the FSU 1 on the opening possession, FSU stuffed Dyer stuffed for a loss, which set up an incomplete fourth-down pass. On third-and-4 on the next drive, quarterback Will Gardner couldn't hit Parker. On third-and-10 on UL's first second-half possession, which started at midfield after a fourth-down stuff by the defense, a hurried Gardner misfired to Eli Rogers. On third-and-10 with Louisville up only 24-14, Gardner again couldn't hit Parker. On third-and-1 with Louisville up 24-21, FSU again stuffed Dyer for a loss. On third-and-6 early in the fourth quarter, Gardner missed a slant to Parker.

Most importantly, on third-and-2 with under three minutes left, down 35-31, Gardner threw a fade pass to Parker, and it fell incomplete. On fourth down, his throwback pass to tight end Charles Standberry was a bit too long. (The play-calling on that drive was ... curious.)

Louisville was 1-for-11 on third downs and 0-for-2 on fourth downs. FSU was 9-for-16 and 0-for-1. Of the 30 conversion attempts by both offenses, FSU won 21. Passes to Parker were 8-for-10 for 214 yards on first and second down and 0-for-5 on third.

The Seminoles are still the reigning national champs, and you probably aren't going to beat them by forfeiting third downs like a CFL team.

3. Hello, Dalvin.

One of FSU's biggest issues in 2014 has been its run game, or lack thereof. The Seminoles try to establish the run, fail, and fall behind on the scoreboard; then, when they absolutely need to move the ball, they abandon the run and put all their hopes on the arm of Winston ... and Winston makes that work.

With anything less than an incredible quarterback, FSU would have lost at least one game by now.

Karlos Williams, he of 8.0 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns in 2013, hasn't been able to get rolling. He's averaging just 4.6 yards per carry, and despite being a 225-pound block of granite, he hasn't been effective in short-yardage situations. Against Louisville, he gained 72 yards in 16 carries (4.5 per) and got stuffed on what could have been a key fourth-and-1 attempt early in the second half.

Enter Dalvin Cook. An all-world recruit out of Miami, Cook is 6', 200, and looks like he runs a 3.9 40 with pads on. As tends to be the case for most freshmen, it has taken him a while to find his legs at the college level -- through five games, he had rushed 24 times for 128 yards (5.3 per carry), neither great nor terrible. In Williams' absence, he had what could have been a breakout against Syracuse (23 for 122) but followed with a dud against Notre Dame (12 for 20).

Cook had four carries for just 11 yards in the first half on Thursday night. He had five carries for 99 yards in the second half. He also caught four passes for 40 yards within a key, seven-play span in the third quarter. He raced for a 40-yard touchdown run to cut Louisville's lead to 24-21. Then, with 3:55 left, after a short punt gave FSU possession at the Louisville 38 in the fourth quarter, he broke through an arm tackle and sprinted down the right sideline for what would become the game-winning score.

Cook is in theory still an inconsistent freshman, but we might be looking back at Thursday night as the lightbulb-comes-on moment for both Cook and the FSU running game.

4. Gettin' lucky.

At one point, you had to wonder if Lady Luck had money on the Seminoles.

Down 21-0 and desperately in need of a break, FSU quickly drove to the Louisville 1 thanks to passes of 17 yards to Nick O'Leary, 21 yards to Rashad Greene, and 30 yards to Jesus Wilson. But Louisville forced a third-and-goal from the 1 and appeared to have dropped Williams for a loss.

Only, Williams never cleanly got the handoff from Winston, and the ball hit the ground. It bounced around under a pile of players, slipped through the hands of two Louisville defenders, and ended up in the end zone, where O'Leary fell on it for a touchdown.

 

Then, on the first play of the second half, Winston threw his third interception of the night to sophomore ball-hawk Gerold Holliman. Holliman returned the ball 14 yards, but Winston forced a fumble. The ball bounced around, again slipped through Louisville hands, and FSU's Travis Rudolph recovered it. FSU ended up going four-and-out, but Louisville lost about 20 yards of field position in the exchange and ended up stalling out for a field goal at the FSU 16.

Down 24-21 early in the fourth quarter, Winston had a pass batted by linebacker Nick Dawson-Brents. Holliman stepped into the path of the ball and got both hands on what might have not only become his third pick of the day, but an almost sure pick-six. He dropped it.

On the next play, Winston threw a dangerous, deep slant to freshman Ermon Lane. Two different Louisville defenders stepped into the path of the ball but ran into each other. Lane somehow snared the ball despite the commotion, and with Louisville defenders flat-footed, he weaved into the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown.

In movies, fate smiles on the underdog. That's not how it worked out in real-life on Thursday night.

5. Kindred spirits in South Bend and Eugene.

I've gone quite a few rounds with the Florida State Internet this year. After serving as one of the Seminoles' most early and vocal champions a year ago (thanks in part to the numbers that were on my side of the argument), I've more or less turned on them (thanks in part to the numbers that are on my side of the argument).

The best teams, the most likely championship teams, are the ones that handle their business early and put games out of reach before luck, chance, fumbles, and vital offensive pass interference calls can impact the outcome.

According to the F/+ rankings, the Seminoles have been just barely good enough to survive No. 9 Clemson at home (without Winston), No. 15 Louisville on the road, and No. 19 Notre Dame at home. They survived No. 44 Oklahoma State on a neutral field (though OSU would likely be ranked higher than 44th if quarterback J.W. Walsh hadn't gotten hurt), and they pulled away from No. 53 NC State in the fourth quarter. They pummeled No. 76 Syracuse and eventually got around to doing the same to No. 89 Wake Forest.

They have, in other words, solidified that they should be ranked around seventh to 12th in these ratings. They were 11th heading into this week, and I can't figure they'll move much after Thursday night's performance.

Since 2005, no team that has ranked lower than third in F/+ has won the national title, and no team ranked worse than ninth has reached the title game. Remember, the F/+ rating is not based on the polls in any way.

  • 2005: No. 1 Texas beat No. 2 USC
  • 2006: No. 2 Florida beat No. 4 Ohio State
  • 2007: No. 1 LSU beat No. 2 Ohio State
  • 2008: No. 1 Florida beat No. 4 Oklahoma
  • 2009: No. 1 Alabama beat No. 3 Texas
  • 2010: No. 3 Auburn beat No. 9 Oregon
  • 2011: No. 1 Alabama beat No. 2 LSU
  • 2012: No. 1 Alabama beat No. 7 Notre Dame
  • 2013: No. 1 Florida State beat No. 4 Auburn

Now, there are some obvious caveats.

First, this is the first year that four teams will be playing for the national title instead of two.

Second, at this point last year, eventual No. 4 Auburn ranked just 22nd. The Tigers caught fire in November, whipping Arkansas and Tennessee, beating Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri, and not only reaching the BCS Championship game, but nearly winning it.

There's a chance that the FSU running game found itself in the second half against Louisville on Thursday night. And there's a chance that the defense that mostly shut Louisville down in the second half will be the defense we see more frequently down the stretch. Yes, we could have said almost exactly the same thing after the Clemson, NC State, and Notre Dame wins. But we know FSU has all the components of an elite team -- they show us those components about 15 to 20 minutes per game. And for all we know, there's a catalyst right around the corner.

Through eight games, however, FSU has been far more like 2010 Oregon (with bursts of dominance disguising longer spells of average play) and 2012 Notre Dame (with key, late plays allowing them to survive and advance) than 2013 Florida State.

The Seminoles now have an excellent chance of reaching 13-0, though Miami will probably be a tougher test than you think. But without sustained improvement, and without the ability to play a full 60 minutes at a high level, they will in no way be a favorite to beat two top-four teams in the College Football Playoff and win the national title.

(Here's where you simply say, "24 STRAIGHT, HATERS," Florida State fans. Or just call me a Super Geek. I don't really have a retort for either one.)

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November 2, 2014
9:39 am
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Playoff Guru Samuel Chi: Could the SEC get shut out of the playoff?
November 2
 

How many SEC teams will be in the inaugural College Football Playoff? One? Two?

How about zero?

After Saturday, that prospect is becoming a possibility. To be sure, it's a long shot, but that scenario can no longer be ruled out completely.

Georgia's shocking blowout loss to Florida at the annual Cocktail Party brings home the stark reality that the SEC East is filled with second-rate also-rans. For all the talk that the SEC West might be the best division in football, the SEC can't be credibly called the best conference when half of it is but a sad clown show.

And the clowns might very well make more mess of it if they pull out a miracle win under the big top of the Georgia Dome. Missouri, a loser to Big Ten bottom feeder Indiana at home, now leads the SEC East. What if the Tigers shock a one-loss SEC West champ in the conference title game?

Or a two-loss SEC West champ. With Ole Miss' gut-wrenching loss to Auburn, a plausible scenario exists for a five-way tie in the SEC West with each team tagged with two losses. All that takes is this: Mississippi State loses to Alabama and Ole Miss, plus Alabama loses to LSU but beats Auburn—if all five teams involved here win their other remaining games.

That being the case, Ole Miss and LSU are still alive in the playoff chase, along with 11 other one-loss teams and, of course, undefeated Mississippi State and Florida State.

Teams that were helped Saturday: Auburn, Oregon, Alabama, and FSU

Teams hurt: Notre Dame and the SEC East

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November 3, 2014
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College football's Week 10 winners and losers
Daniel Uthman and Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports 11:03 p.m. EDT November 1, 2014: http://www.usatoday.com/story/...../18322355/
2014-11-1-TCU

The No. 7 team in the College Football Playoff Top 25, TCU, came into the weekend knowing that at least one team ahead of it was going to lose. It also knew that a week from now it was hosting the next highest-ranked Big 12 team, Kansas State. And it knew that on Saturday it would be competing on the field where the Big 12 preseason favorite, Baylor, experienced its lone loss of 2014.

Those elements, not to mention the natural elements of wind and rain, were a lot to shut out of the Horned Frogs' minds, and it would be untrue to say that they did.

But TCU did do something that kept it in the Playoff chase and signaled that it is the kind of team that might stay in it long-term. One week after scoring a Big 12-record 82 points, TCU's offense and newly minted Heisman trophy contender Trevone Boykin struggled. But the Horned Frogs' defense, historically their strength but somewhat overlooked by their gaudy offense this season, capitalized on five West Virginia turnovers and rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final eight minutes to win.

FOOTBALL FOUR: Rating and debating college football and the Playoff

The stakes continue to grow for TCU, which can grab a share of the Big 12 lead by beating Kansas State next week. On Saturday, the Horned Frogs took their time but rose to the occasion before it was too late.

Saturday's other winners in college football:

Air Force. In one afternoon, Air Force secured bowl eligibility and reclaimed the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy from Navy's grasp. It was a good day. The Falcons, now 6-2, will hold sole possession of the trophy for the first time since 2011 after topping the Midshipmen earlier this fall and Army on Saturday that's going to provide Air Force with a boost, as will a four-win leap in the win column after last year's 2-10 finish — and the Falcons will have time to build on that lead.

Duke. The Blue Devils may end up being the last team standing in the seven-team Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division. After sneaking past Pittsburgh in double overtime — with some help from the Panthers' kicker — Duke is the only team in the division with just a single conference defeat; five teams, including Pittsburgh, have two losses, and Virginia Tech sits in last with four conference losses.

Though Georgia Tech also has three ACC wins, the Blue Devils hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Yellow Jackets.

Western Michigan. The Broncos have quickly reversed course from rock bottom. That came only a year ago, a one-win finish in coach P.J. Fleck's debut. After beating Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan has already added five victories to last year's total and secured bowl eligibility. There was some optimism surrounding Fleck despite last year's woeful performance, thanks to his staff's wildly successful recruiting efforts. No one could have seen such a quick turnaround.

TOP 25: How they fared in Week 10

Maryland. The Terps entered Saturday 0-21 against Penn State in State College and 1-35-1 overall. Throughout that long history, Penn State had infiltrated Maryland's backyard to sign some of the Nittany Lions' recruits. And with one-time Maryland recruitiing coordinator and coach-in waiting James Franklin now coaching Penn State — in addition to Maryland joining the Big Ten this year — the stakes arguably had never been higher despite both teams having middling success this season.

Maryland forced three punts and a fumble in Penn State's final five possessions and rallied from a 16-7 deficit in the fourth quarter. It won thanks to a 43-yard Brad Craddock field goal with 51 seconds to play.

LOSERS

Maryland. There was absolutely no reason for the Terrapins' captains — yes, captains — to keep their hands at their sides when Penn State's captains extended theirs at the pregame coinflip. It was a terrible look for the Big Ten newcomers, and Maryland coach Randy Edsall extended an apology after the game, saying, "That was not choreographed."

Edsall then expressed how big the win was for his program and said, "You know what? Let the rivalry begin."

Ole Miss: Loser is a little unfair in this case. Defeated is more appropriate.

The Rebels fell short at home against the No. 4 team in the Amway Coaches Poll and the No. 3 team in the College Football Playoff Top 25. No real shame in that, just sadness. But the problem is, the sadness may be prolonged. Like really prolonged.

Down four points with less than two minutes to play, Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught a pass and was tackled in front of the goal line. As he was pulled from behind, he lost control of the ball, and it squirted into the end zone and was recovered by Auburn. At the same time, Treadwell suffered what appears to be a severe ankle injury.

Ole Miss lost one of its best players, and at the same time earned a second loss that might knock it out of Playoff contention.

Georgia. The Bulldogs entered the weekend at No. 11 in the College Football Playoff Top 25 and seemed poised to continue rising with Florida and Kentucky up next on their schedule. Yeah, about that.

Georgia was facing a Florida team that had lost three of its previous four games. Yet the Gators stuck with Treon Harris at quarterback and stuck with the run in its playcalling, rushing for 418 yards and passing only six times, to saddle Georgia with its second loss. Georgia allowed 7 yards per carry, more than double its average prior to Saturday.

With a home matchup with Auburn set for Nov. 15, this was one the Bulldogs could ill afford to lose. And yet at no point did it appear the Bulldogs would win.

East Carolina. The only Group of Five team to be ranked in the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 won't enjoy such status this week when the committee releases its new ranking. And it's possible it won't enjoy that status again in 2014.

The Pirates' 20-10 loss at Temple featured five ECU fumbles — all lost — and season lows for Shane Carden in passing yards and pass efficiency. Four of East Carolina's seven drives in the first half ended in fumbles, and the Pirates never really threatened after that. Though already bowl-eligible, East Carolina now finds itself in a pile of two-loss teams in the Group of Five conferences.

North Carolina. Here's one fact that underlines this program's current woes: UNC has allowed at least 27 points in 10 of its last 11 games against Football Bowl Subdivision competition.

Saturday's loss, a 47-20 blowout at Miami (Fla.), may have marked the low point. What makes the defeat more striking is that it comes on the heels of a pretty solid stretch of play; the Tar Heels had won two in a row, against Georgia Tech and Virginia, after losing by a touchdown at Notre Dame.

Here's another fact to help define the 27-point loss: At one point in the second half, Miami running back Duke Johnson had more receiving yards — as a running back — than UNC had total yards of offense.

Virginia Tech. Another loss in ACC play should force the university to spend the remainder of the regular season looking long and hard at the short- and long-term future of its football program. Saturday's loss to Boston College dropped the Hokies to 4-5, marking the second time in three years the program has held a losing record in November.

For comparison, consider that prior to 2012 Virginia Tech hadn't been below .500 since 1992. Though Frank Beamer has an immense level of job security, another dismal season will raise calls for discussions about a succession plan along the sidelines.

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11 201                        Bowl Projections

A look at ho             How the postseason could shape up. Dave Miller 11-03-2014

 
 

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Week 11 2014-15 Bowl Projections

A look at how the postseason could shape up. Dave Miller

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November 03, 2014, 07:00 AM EST

 
Football Playoff selection committee will unveil its second Top 25 rankings on Tuesday night, and there’s a chance that we won’t see a non-Power Five team in the mix.

East Carolina looked lost in a road setback at Temple, meaning things have opened up for Marshall to claim the Group of Five’s ‘New Year’s Six’ bowl slot. But the Thundering Herd may not even show up in this week’s standings, and the committee won’t let us know where any team stands outside of those Top 25 squads.

As we close the book on Week 10 and look ahead to Week 11, let's take a look at how the new College Football Playoff could look in its first season as well as how the rest of the postseason could shake out in my latest bowl projections.

Below is how I slotted all of the teams for each and every bowl game. Yes, all 39 of them.

And, as always, these projections are subject to change — especially because it's still not entirely clear how the College Football Playoff will ultimately come together and it's common for some conferences to not always be able to fill all of their bowl tie-ins.

Key

* Replacement team for a conference that cannot fill its bowl slot.

— If bowl-eligible, Army will play in the Armed Forces Bowl, Navy will play in the Poinsettia Bowl and BYU will play in the Miami Beach Bowl.

Note: One team from the so-called Group of Five (American Athletic, MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA and Sun Belt) will get chosen for either the Cotton, Fiesta or Peach Bowl.

The College Football Playoff

Semifinal—Jan. 1 Rose (Pasadena): No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oregon

Semifinal—Jan. 1 Sugar (New Orleans): No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Michigan State

Championship—Jan. 12 (Arlington): The winners of the two semifinals meet

 

The CFP Selection Committee bowl games

Dec. 31 Peach (Atlanta): Ohio State (At-Large) vs. Marshall (At-Large)

Dec. 31 Orange (Miami): Clemson (ACC) vs. Notre Dame (Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame)

Dec. 31 Fiesta (Glendale): Nebraska (At-Large) vs. Auburn (At-Large)

Jan. 1 Cotton (Arlington): TCU (At-Large) vs. Mississippi State (At-Large)

 

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Playoff Guru Samuel Chi: Rankings at 10 weeks: http://www.bcsguru.com/2014_cf.....ndings.htm

1. Miss. State

2. FSU

3. Auburn

4. Oregon

5. TCU

6. Alabama

Rose Bowl: FSU vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl: Miss. State vs. TCU

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Bracketology/Bowls Expert

College Football Playoff: Unbeaten counts less than victory margin

November 11, 2014 8:33 pm ET

 Despite a perfect record, Jimbo Fisher and Florida State have fallen behind Oregon.

As if shunning undefeated Marshall every week wasn't enough of a message that undefeated doesn't mean much to this committee, they sent another one Tuesday night. Oregon jumped over unbeaten Florida State for the No. 2 spot this week behind Mississippi State.

Committee faces Catch-22 with Baylor vs. TCU

This isn't just a strength of schedule move, although that is part of it. Oregon has played four teams in this week's rankings. Among ranked teams, only Auburn has played more. The Ducks are 3-1 in those games. The Seminoles are 2-0 against teams in this week's rankings.

That's nice, but probably not enough to warrant Oregon being ahead on just that. Another factor in the move would seem to be margin of victory. Oregon, even with a loss, has an average margin of victory a touchdown more than Florida State. The Seminoles won close games against their two ranked opponents, needing overtime for the win over Clemson. Oregon beat all three of its ranked foes by at least 12 points. The Ducks aren't just winning, they're winning with style.

Speaking of winning with style, how 'bout them Buckeyes! Ohio State is fourth in the nation in average margin of victory, behind Marshall (not helping them any), Baylor and TCU. The Buckeyes jumped both Auburn and Ole Miss despite having a decidedly weaker schedule than each of those teams. Ohio State just played its first ranked team this weekend, and I would argue, has only played one other team that could be classified as above average (Maryland). Auburn has already played five and is 3-2 in those games. The Tigers have lost only to ranked teams, and the Buckeyes lost to a rank one (4-5 Virginia Tech) ... at home.

Oregon jumps FSU, TCU is new No. 4

Ole Miss is 1-2 against ranked opponents and the committee was right to leave Auburn ahead of the Rebels based on both SOS and the fact that Auburn defeated Ole Miss. The difference in SOS between Ole Miss and Ohio State is larger than the difference between Oregon and Florida State. The difference in SOS between Auburn and Ohio State is comically large. The only argument whatsoever for Ohio State to be ahead of either of those teams in the rankings is that they win big. The committee might never mention margin of victory in public, and they might not even mention it in private, but they are definitely being influenced by it.

There will probably be much made about TCU passing Alabama for fourth this week and, of course, still being ahead of Baylor, the team that beat the Frogs, but that's short-term thinking. If all three win out, TCU will be ranked third among them in the end. Alabama, at 12-1 and SEC champ, might up No. 1.

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CFP reaction: This nonsense replaced the BCS?

Think about this for a moment: Before last week’s games, Notre Dame had a significantly tougher schedule than Florida State, yet Florida State won the head-to-head meeting in Tallahassee by stopping a last-second play.

FSU was ranked No. 2, and was eight spots ahead of No. 10 Notre Dame.

Now, fast-forward to this week: TCU has a significantly better schedule than Baylor, yet lost to the Bears on the road on a last-second field goal. TCU is ranked No. 4 in this week’s College Football Playoff poll, and Baylor is No.7.

Any of this make sense?

Didn’t think so.

The best part of this now-spectacular mess is this new, everything-will-be-better playoff is no better than the BCS. In fact, three polls in, it’s mirroring the most controversial product ever used by the sport.

 

In 2008, Texas beat Oklahoma on the field by 10 points, yet Oklahoma was allowed to play for the Big 12 title — and eventually the BCS national championship — because Texas lost at Texas Tech on a last-second play and OU whipped Texas Tech in Norman.

HAYES: Are we supposed to believe Mississippi State is nation's best team?

Baylor thinks it can still pass TCU because the Bears still get to play Kansas State, a team TCU already has beaten. But does it really matter? If the 12-member selection committee believes TCU is a better team than Baylor, why would a Bears win over K-State — something TCU already has accomplished — change things?
            
Committee chairman Jeff Long said TCU had a “better strength of schedule” — and that’s the reason for completely ignoring the fact that Baylor beat TCU on the field where it counts. The committee is essentially giving TCU credit for a loss to the No. 7 team in its poll, yet ignoring Baylor’s win over the No. 4 team in its poll.

It’s pure nonsense.

And you know what else it is? It’s the committee trying to go “out of the box” with its voting; trying to make a statement to the college football world that playing anyone in the non-conference portion of your schedule is better than playing no one.

We get it, CFP. Minnesota (which TCU beat) is a more impressive non-conference victory than Buffalo (which Baylor beat). That’s your voting process in a nutshell.

It’s not about winning head to head. It’s about playing Minnesota.

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Chaotic 2014 Season Could Be Killing SEC's Reputation

The SEC has some explaining to do.

If it's such a good conference, why the disjointed play this month? Where is the great team? Where is Goliath?

Auburn was just taken down at home by a Texas A&M team that previously lost a game 59-0. Alabama had a fitful night on offense in an overtime victory over LSU. Georgia lost by 18 to Florida two weeks ago. SEC East-leading Missouri was shut out at home and has a loss to Indiana, which is winless in the Big Ten.

SEC standings
East SEC Overall
Missouri 4-1 7-2
Georgia 5-2 7-2
Florida 4-3 5-3
Kentucky 2-5 5-5
South Carolina 2-5 4-5
Tennessee 1-4 4-5
Vanderbilt 0-6 3-7
West SEC Overall
Mississippi State 5-0 9-0
Alabama 5-1 8-1
Ole Miss 4-2 8-2
Auburn 4-2 7-2
Texas A&M 3-3 7-3
LSU 3-3 7-3
Arkansas 0-5 4-5

sports-reference.com

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is licking his wounds from yet another loss, but he might just be waiting for someone to ask him about the "myth" of the SEC so he can make himself feel better.

This should make Stoops feel better. TCU, a one-loss Big 12 team with weaker nonconference wins than one-loss Alabama's victory over West Virginia, slid past the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings.

The SEC might have a great team if Mississippi State has developed a champion's DNA to go with its superb quarterback and chemistry. We'll see Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

For now, the SEC looks like a bunch of good teams.

 

There were signs

You could see this 2014 letdown coming when the SEC lost its veteran quarterbacks all at once, not to mention a bundle of junior talent to the NFL draft. AJ McCarron, Johnny Manziel, Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray, Connor Shaw and James Franklin exited after 2013, and you can look bad in the SEC being a one-dimensional run team.

The SEC also lost 29 juniors to NFL draft declarations in January 2014. The Big 12, with four fewer teams, lost three juniors. The Pac-12 lost 26, but six were from Cal, which had just finished a 1-11 season. The ACC lost 13.

"Junior defections have brought the elite, national championship programs back to the field (FSU, Alabama, Auburn, LSU) and allowed other parts of the country to catch up with veteran, more experienced talent," Senior Bowl CEO Phil Savage wrote in an e-mail. "We have 'one-and-done' in basketball, this is 'three-and-done' in football, same concept. Butler, Wichita State, George Mason, etc., every March."

Savage has just 20 SEC seniors committed so far to his game January 25, compared to 32 in 2012.

 

The fallout

Oregon was No. 5, one spot behind Alabama, in the Associated Press Top 25 in Week 11, but it was No. 4 and ahead of Alabama in the CFP rankings. The Ducks are now No. 2 in the CFP rankings after a win in Utah in Week 12. It got worse for the SEC's cred Tuesday night when the CFP Selection Committee chose TCU as No. 4 ahead of Alabama, which was left at No. 5.

College football has become a quarterback-centric, points-driven game, and Alabama has to live in it. Blake Sims, its senior quarterback, was too stubborn against LSU, taking shot after shot downfield in the passing game against bump-and-run coverage. He was poised in the last 50 seconds against a defense that has become one of the best in the country in front of the throng of LSU fans in Tiger Stadium, and he got his team down the field for the tying field goal at the end of regulation.

But the CFP is style-driven and resume-driven, and the Sims/Alabama resume now has some smudges after his 20-of-45 passing line.

 

I asked Nick Saban in the postgame press conference if the rest of the country can appreciate maulers like Alabama and LSU. He said, "I love it, I love it. Nothing spread about that." Can others appreciate it, though? It doesn't appear so with offense-first Oregon jumping the Tide in the AP and offense-first TCU jumping the Tide in the CFP.

Charles Davis, the Fox college football analyst, is not worried about the SEC's reputation.

"The last time we had a game that looked like Alabama-LSU on Saturday night was that 9-6 game between LSU-Alabama (2011), and who ended up playing for the national championship? The same two teams," said Davis who, incidentally, played at Tennessee. "People may not appreciate that style, but I don't think it should hurt Alabama in the polls."

Added Davis, "I think a lot of people don’t like that style of football because we’re playing racehorse everywhere else."

Davis doesn't believe the SEC's honor is in peril at all.

"If Alabama does beat Mississippi State Saturday, and then Bama and State win out and Bama wins the SEC championship, the SEC has a heck of a case for getting two in the playoff," Davis said.

I have my doubts about two in after the SEC was put down Monday in the AP and Tuesday by the CFP. Who is to say the same putdown can't happen next week if Alabama gets in another slugfest, this time with Mississippi State, and squeaks out a 13-10 win? Might it be Mississippi State's turn to drop behind the offense schools—Florida State, Oregon, TCU and maybe even behind Ohio State and Baylor?

The national media narrative is that "TCU looked good" in its win over K-State, while Alabama "won ugly." It's not all wins, losses and resume. It's style. It's the flash on the screen.

 

Here is the other side of it. TCU scored 41 points against a Kansas State defense that surrendered just 20 points to Auburn. Oregon went for 51 points in the high altitude of Utah when the climate was supposed to slow down the Ducks.

Here is the really important other side of it. The old mantra of "defense wins championships" just might be dead after this season. Coaches are putting their best athletes on offense. That's what it seems like, at least. The SEC had better go find and develop some quarterbacks and score points with style.

After Auburn's dreadful loss to Texas A&M and Alabama's fitful win over LSU, the SEC might need a PR job to smooth the rough edges of its resume. There really could be a lot of explaining to do on December 7 when the Final Four is announced.

 

Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report. He has covered college football and various other sports for 20 years. His work has appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and Al Jazeera America. He is the author of How the SEC Became Goliath (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2013). All quotations were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Tony Barnhart

Sorry Florida State, but Alabama is No. 1

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What we learned on another crazy Saturday:

1) Sorry, Florida State, but Alabama is No. 1.: I heard from a bunch of Florida State fans who were not happy last week when Oregon jumped the Seminoles into the No. 2 spot in the CFP Rankings. Well, FSU fans are really not going to be happy this week because I think Alabama is going to jump over the Seminoles into the top spot after the Crimson Tide’s 25-20 victory against No. 1 Mississippi State. Florida State (10-0), the only undefeated team left in the rankings, had to rally again, this time from a 16-point deficit (twice), to beat a very average Miami team on the road 30-26. Florida State’s best wins are Notre Dame (7-3) and Clemson (7-3) and both teams lost Saturday.

Florida State will be in the playoff if they run the table and win the ACC Championship game. But the Seminoles just haven’t earned the No. 1 seed with their play on the field.

2) Mississippi State should not drop below No. 4: Yes, Mississippi State’s non-conference schedule is not good. But the Bulldogs went to No. 5 Alabama and lost by five. They dominated Auburn at home and LSU on the road. If the Bulldogs finish 11-1 they deserve a spot in the playoffs.

Here are my top six after Saturday’s games: 1. Alabama, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida State, 4. Mississippi State, 5. Baylor,  6. TCU.

3) Florida AD Jeremy Foley had no choice; he had to let Muschamp go: In many ways Florida’s stunning 23-20 OT loss to South Carolina in the Swamp was a microcosm of  life the past two seasons for Muschamp. The Gators had the game under control if they can make one lousy first down. Two blocked kicks later South Carolina wins in overtime. It was Muschamp’s 13th loss in 22 games. He’s a good man and a good coach. They just got in an offensive hole in Muschamp’s first season and never climbed out. If I’m Foley my first three calls are to Dan Mullen, Bob Stoops and Rich Rodriguez.

4) Despite the loss of Todd Gurley, you don’t want to play Georgia right now: When Georgia is good, the Bulldogs can beat anybody (See Auburn 34-7). When they are bad, they can lose to anybody (see Florida 38-20). I’ll never be able to explain Georgia’s loss to Florida on Nov. 1. But Georgia’s rout of Auburn was impressive enough to give every team in the SEC West that could face the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game something to think about. Holding Auburn to 292 yards and seven points is unheard of. Now Georgia (6-2) has to get to the Georgia Dome, which only happens if Missouri (8-2, 5-1 SEC) loses one of its final to games to Tennessee or Arkansas.

5) Ole Miss can get to the SEC Championship game: Auburn’s loss to Georgia gives Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2) a chance to reach its first SEC Championship game. Here’s how it happens: Ole Miss wins its last two games on the road at Arkansas and at home against Mississippi State. Auburn upsets Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss all finish at 6-2 in the SEC. Ole Miss would have beaten both Alabama and Mississippi State and thus wins the tiebreaker and the trip to the Dome.

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Playoff Committee Rankings 11-18-2014

GAMES PLAYED THROUGH
SATURDAY,
NOVEMBER
15
RANK
TEAM
OVERALL RECORD
1
Alabama
9
-
1
2
Oregon
9
-
1
3
Florida State
10
-
0
4
Mississippi State
9
-
1
5
TCU
9
-
1
6
Ohio State
9
-
1
7
Baylor
8
-
1
8
Mississippi
8
-
2
9
UCLA
8
-
2
10
Georgia
8
-
2
11
Michigan State
8
-
2
12
Kansas
State
7
-
2
13
Arizona
State
8
-
2
14
Auburn
7
-
3
15
Arizona
8
-
2
16
Wisconsin
8
-
2
17
Utah
7
-
3
18
Georgia Tech
9
-
2
19
Southern Cal
7
-
3
20
Missouri
8
-
2
21
Oklahoma
7
-
3
22
Clemson
7
-
3
23
Nebraska
8
-
2
24
Louisville
7
-
3
25
Minnesota
7
-
3
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5 Things We Learned from College Football Playoff Committee's Week 13 Rankings

 

Are you happy now?

For those who clamored for the BCS' demise and the birth of a playoff system, Tuesday night's rankings could not have brought smiles to their faces. In short, the committee's choices actually made the polls look good by comparison.

It's as if the selection committee's 12 members are waging war on logic. Strength of schedule is important, only when it's not. Head-to-head matters, except when it doesn't. 

 
Sorry, Marshall.

And if you're not a member of the Power Five conferences, you should just tune in on Dec. 7 when the committee reveals who will get that guaranteed slot in a New Year's Six bowl. Your resume and body of work clearly do not measure up to the big boys, no matter what you do.

So what can we take away from this week's rankings? You mean other than that the committee should be immediately disbanded in favor of an improved BCS formula?

OK, let's try these five:

 

1. The eyeball test trumps all

Alabama is ranked No. 1 because it apparently looks better "on offense, defense and special teams" than everyone else, according to chairman Jeff Long, who spoke on ESPN's broadcast. The committee is untroubled that Alabama has beaten just one of its own Top 25 teams (Mississippi State) while No. 2 Oregon has beaten three (UCLA, Michigan State and Utah) and No. 3 Florida State two (Clemson and Louisville) while staying undefeated.

 

2. Maybe the problem is those lying eyes

Which team has most legit claim to be No. 4?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Former No. 1 Mississippi State only dropped to No. 4 after losing to Alabama because Long said the Bulldogs lost by only five to the Tide and were never out of the game. Maybe that's the biggest problem with item No. 1—the committee members need to have their eyes examined.

The Bulldogs were never in that game, all the way to the concession TD that made the final score of 25-20 deceptively close. This "good loss," however, was enough to keep MSU in the playoff field despite the fact that, like the Tide, it's beaten just one currently ranked team (Auburn).

 

3. Strength of schedule for me, not for thee

And whereas Baylor is ostensibly still punished for its terrible nonconference schedule, the same does not apply to Mississippi State, which actually played four non-Power Five opponents as compared to Baylor's three.

The Bulldogs beat Southern Miss (3-8), UAB (5-5), South Alabama (6-4) and Tennessee-Martin (FCS, 5-6) and that's good enough to trump TCU, which actually beat three currently ranked teams and played two more Power Five opponents than MSU did.

 

4. Ohio State looks to be DOA

 

The Buckeyes are No. 6 and probably as good as dead when it comes to the playoff, unless they get some kind of divine intervention. There are not enough good opponents left on their schedule that will provide them with a significant lift to jump teams like Mississippi State and TCU.

And Baylor, one spot behind now, is poised to perhaps snatch the final playoff spot if it can defeat Kansas State on the final day of the regular season to claim the Big 12 title.

 

5. Group of Five? What Group of Five?

For the third week in a row, no team outside of the Power Five conferences (and Notre Dame) was in the rankings. Of the 27 Power Five teams with three or fewer losses, only Duke and Iowa are not ranked.

The committee clearly takes strength of schedule seriously when it comes to Group of Five teams. It's still very much anybody's guess which team among Marshall, Colorado State and Boise State is considered the best in the (possibly faulty) eyes of the committee.

 

The rankings

Playoff Committee Rankings Comparison
Rank Team BR Mock AP Poll Record vs. T25 Losses
1 Alabama 2 2 1-1 No. 8 Ole Miss
2 Oregon 1 3 3-1 No. 15 Arizona
3 Florida State 3 1 2-0 None
4 Miss State 5 4 1-1 No. 1 Alabama
5 TCU 4 5 3-1 No. 7 Baylor
6 Ohio State 7 7 2-0 Virginia Tech
7 Baylor 6 6 2-0 West Virginia
8 Ole Miss 8 8 1-1 2
9 UCLA 9 11 2-2 2
10 Georgia 10 9 3-0 2
11 Michigan State 11 10 1-2 2
12 Kansas State 12 12 1-2 2
13 Arizona State 14 13 2-1 2
14 Auburn 15 16 2-2 3
15 Arizona 13 15 1-2 2
16 Wisconsin 16 14 1-0 2
17 Utah 17 20 2-2 3
18 Georgia Tech 20 17 1-0 2
19 USC 18 24 1-2 3
20 Missouri 19 19 0-1 2
21 Oklahoma 25 23 0-3 3
22 Clemson 34 27 1-3 3
23 Nebraska 22 21 0-2 3
24 Louisville 35 28 0-2 3
25 Minnesota 28 31 0-2 3
UR Marshall 21 18 0-0 None
UR Colorado State 24 22 0-0 Boise State

* No group-of-five team is ranked by the committee.

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Jonathan Clegg of the Wall Street Journal sees SEC as weaker than expected:

 

http://online.wsj.com/articles.....3045803091

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Samuel Chi's Mock College Football Playoff Standings: Week 15

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 are favored in their games for next weekend. 

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 victory next week.

 

Samuel Chi's Mock CFP Standings
Rank Lw Team AP Poll Computer SoS
1 1 Alabama 1 1.87 4
2 2 Oregon 3 3.56 34
3 3 Florida State 2 7.93 49
4 5 TCU 4 4.42 31
5 6 Ohio State 6 7.09 60
6 7 Baylor 5 9.39 66
7 11 Arizona 8 14.98 35
8 12 Kansas State 9 13.45 40
9 4 Miss State 10 7.91 22
10 10 Michigan State 7 9.83 58
11 14 Wisconsin 11 13.20 61
12 16 Georgia Tech 12 13.49 46
13 17 Missouri 14 16.50 23
14 19 Ole Miss 13 7.63 6
15 9 Georgia 15 11.42 11
16 8 UCLA 16 16.14 8

See complete standings

 

This is where things get tricky. Baylor defeated TCU 61-58 at home earlier this year, 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.

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December 6, 2014
10:33 am
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Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports:

Bowl projections: Alabama, FSU, Oregon, TCU will play for title
Stewart Mandel
FOX Sports

DEC 02, 2014 9:00a ET
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A couple of mild surprises in Tuesday night’s selection committee rankings prompted me to completely blow up my projected lineup from earlier in the week. A quick explanation of version 2.0:

* While TCU moved ahead of Florida State for No. 3, I believe they’ll flip back next week if the ‘Noles beat No. 11 Georgia Tech. At this point, however, I’m much more doubtful that Baylor, who I previously had No. 4, is going to displace the Horned Frogs.

* It now appears the Big Ten, not the SEC, is going to face the ACC in the Orange Bowl, and in fact the matchup is almost certain to be Georgia Tech (win or lose Saturday) against Michigan State (provided Alabama beats Missouri). I believe the committee will drop Ohio State behind the Spartans if they lose to Wisconsin with backup QB Cardale Jones.

* The ripple effects of that development are that Mississippi State, which I had in the Orange Bowl, would move to the Peach Bowl; and that the Big Ten would place three teams in New Year’s Six bowls but lose its spot in the Citrus Bowl to the ACC (as per that contract). Which means I then had to adjust almost every other ACC selection below that.

* Finally, I originally had Ole Miss, not Ohio State, as the last at-large team, but the gap between the No. 5 Buckeyes and No. 12 Rebels is larger than I expected so I put Ohio State back in. Which means I had to adjust several SEC selections as well.

Damn you, committee.

If you’re truly interested in learning how your favorite team will get placed where this week I encourage you to read my Selection Sunday primer. As I learned in the course of reporting it, the ACC’s, Big Ten’s and SEC’s new conference-controlled selection process hold such wide latitude that a league’s 9-3 team could wind up where you’d normally expect to see a 6-6 team or vice versa.

Finally, I’m projecting 80 eligible teams for 76 spots. The unlucky ones left out: Ohio, Texas State, Temple and, unfortunately, UAB.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF BOWLS
DATE BOWL LOCATION MATCHUP
Dec. 31 Peach Atlanta Ohio State (at-large) vs. Mississippi State (at-large)
Dec. 31 Fiesta Glendale, Arizona Arizona (at-large) vs. Boise State (Group of 5)
Dec. 31 Orange Miami Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. Michigan State (SEC/B1G/ND)
Jan. 1 Cotton Arlington, Texas Baylor (at-large) vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten champ)
Jan. 1 Rose Pasadena, California Oregon (CFP No. 2) vs. Florida State (CFP No. 3)
Jan. 1 Sugar New Orleans Alabama (CFP No. 1) vs. TCU (CFP No. 4)
OTHER BOWLS
DATE BOWL LOCATION MATCHUP
Dec. 20 New Orleans New Orleans, La. Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt) vs. Middle Tennessee* (MWC)
Dec. 20 New Mexico Albuquerque, N.M. Nevada (MWC) vs. UTEP (C-USA)
Dec. 20 Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev. Colorado State (MWC No. 1) vs. Utah (Pac-12 No. 6)
Dec. 20 Idaho Potato Boise, Idaho Air Force (MWC) vs. Western Michigan (MAC)
Dec. 20 Camellia Montgomery, Ala. South Alabama (Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)
Dec. 22 Miami Beach Miami, Fla. Memphis (American) vs. BYU (BYU)
Dec. 23 Boca Raton Boca Raton, Fla. Marshall (C-USA) vs. Toledo (MAC)
Dec. 23 Poinsettia San Diego, Calif. San Diego State (MWC) vs. Navy (Navy)
Dec. 24 Bahamas Nassau, Bahamas Bowling Green (MAC) vs. Western Kentucky (C-USA)
Dec. 24 Hawaii Honolulu, Hawaii Fresno State (MWC) vs. Rice (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Heart of Dallas Dallas, Texas Illinois (B1G) vs. Louisiana Tech (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Quick Lane Detroit, Mich. Rutgers (B1G Nos. 8-9) vs. North Carolina (ACC Nos. 7-9)
Dec. 26 St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, Fla. UCF (American) vs. Miami (ACC No. 10)
Dec. 27 Military Annapolis, Md. Pittsburgh (ACC Nos. 8-10) vs. East Carolina (American)
Dec. 27 Sun El Paso, Texas Boston College (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Arizona St. (Pac-12 No. 5)
Dec. 27 Independence Shreveport, La. Virginia Tech (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. Texas A&M (SEC Nos. 9-10)
Dec. 27 Pinstripe Bronx, N.Y. Duke (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Penn State (B1G)
Dec. 27 Holiday San Diego, Calif. USC (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Iowa (B1G)
Dec. 29 Liberty Memphis, Tenn. Tennessee (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. West Virginia (Big 12 No. 5)
Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Orlando, Fla. Kansas State (Big 12 No. 3) vs. Louisville (ACC No. 3)
Dec. 29 Texas Houston, Texas Arkansas (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Texas (Big 12 No. 4)
Dec. 30 Music City Nashville, Tenn. LSU (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Notre Dame (ACC Nos. 4-7)
Dec. 30 Belk Charlotte, N.C. Georgia (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. NC State (ACC Nos. 4-7)
Dec. 30 Foster Farms Santa Clara, Calif. Stanford (Pac-12 No. 4) vs. Nebraska (B1G)
Jan. 1 Citrus Orlando, Fla. Ole Miss (SEC No. 2) vs. Clemson (ACC No. 2)
Jan. 1 Outback Tampa, Fla. Minnesota (B1G Nos. 2-4) vs. Missouri (SEC Nos. 3-8)
Jan. 2 Armed Forces Fort Worth, Texas Houston (American) vs. Florida* (Army/Big 12 No. 7)
Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Jacksonville, Fla. Auburn (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Maryland (B1G Nos. 5-7)
Jan. 2 Alamo San Antonio, Texas Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 2) vs. UCLA (Pac-12 No. 2)
Jan. 2 Cactus Tempe, Ariz. Utah State vs. Washington (Pac-12 No. 7)
Jan. 3 Birmingham Birmingham, Alab. Cincinnati (American) vs. South Carolina (SEC Nos. 9-10)
Jan. 4 GoDaddy Mobile, Alab. Northern Illinois (MAC No. 1) vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt)

 

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December 13, 2014
10:22 am
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I agree with the brilliant Samuel Chi, playoffguru.com: TCU got screwed and ESPN's lobbying  (and the Ohio State alum and suck-up Herbstreit) was the difference.

http://www.playoffguru.com.

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