So, the first College Football Playoff Rankings came out this week, resulting in much consternation in Big 12 country. It’s easy to see why: all three of the Big 12’s undefeateds checked in below their AP ranking. Baylor, ranked No. 2 in this week’s AP poll, checked in at No. 6. TCU, No. 5 in at the AP–and receiving five first place votes–clocked in at No. 8, and OSU is ranked at No. 14, a spot behind AAC member Memphis.
All this while Alabama, who lost at home to two-loss Ole Miss–who lost to Memphis–checks in at No. 4. They play No. 2 LSU this weekend. Notre Dame clocks in at No. 5, and their best two wins are No. 21 Temple and against a Georgia Tech team that, though No. 14 at the time, has gone on to go 3-6 since.
Nothing like preseason hype and name-brand recognition to get where you want to go.
Elsewhere, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg wrote about the Committee’s SEC West lovefest continues. And how the CFP’s first rankings did absolutely nothing to dispel the theory that the Committee loves namebrand teams. Aside from Clemson, the top eight are chock full of them. To paraphrase Kyle Porter of Pistols Firing, does anyone think that Baylor, with the way they’ve been absolutely dismantling people, would be ranked No. 6 if they wore Bama crimson and white? Or perhaps their golden helmets were more of a Notre Dame-type-shade?
And it’s not going to be any better for a one-loss TCU or OSU. Maybe worse, considering the amount of close calls both teams have had.
The most frustrating thing about it all is that I can see shades of 2011 in all of this. Committee chairman (and Arkansas AD) Jeff Long had this to say: “(Oklahoma State) scored against Texas Tech, but you know as we looked at other teams, a lot of teams have scored on Texas Tech. That wasn’t surprising.” He of course forgot that one SEC team, the one where he works, Arkansas, who only managed to score 24 points on the Red Raiders.
In 2011, the Pokes couldn’t get any respect, because they supposedly couldn’t play defense. The perception was that they’d never be able to hang with LSU and Alabama, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 when they faced each other that year. Sound familiar?
None of this, of course, is helped by the Big 12’s lack of a conference championship game. At least now that November’s here, things are starting to get truly serious, starting this Saturday.
On to the picks–I was so infuriated I almost decided to continue to go with the AP rankings here on the blog. But I’ve decided to go with the CFP rankings. Ultimately it seems silly not to.
No. 6 Baylor 42, Kansas State 31. Much has been made of Baylor losing starter Seth Russell to season-ending injury two weeks ago against WVU. It seems equally as much has been made of the fact that whoever lines up behind center for Baylor will produce similarly eye-popping results. History has certainly borne that out, from Robert Griffin III, Nick Flynn and Bryce Petty on up to the aforementioned Mr. Russell. But still: a true freshman starting his first game on the road in hostile territory–even if that hostile territory is Manhattan, where K-State recently proceeded to be dismantled by OU 55-0 in their last home game–is bound to have some trouble. The way I see it, K-State is due to show some signs of life. This’ll be closer than the Bears want it to be.
Texas Tech 33, West Virginia 34. A tough game to pick, here. Tech and WVU have both been outmanned in recent weeks, going a combined 1-7 against OU, TCU, Baylor and OSU in October. Tech has performed better, taking TCU down to the wire and giving OSU a hell of a game last week in Lubbock. Still, I’m taking the Mountaineers in Morgantown.
No. 8 TCU 51, No. 14 Oklahoma State 53. OSU is getting very little credit nationally so far. It seems like their 70-53 victory last week in Lubbock, however thrilling it was, however infinitely more exciting than a defensive slobberfest such as might be seen in the southeastern or upper midwestern parts of this country on any given Saturday, might’ve actually done damage to the Pokes’ national perception. This is OSU’s big chance to step out onto the national stage. It all sets up perfectly: Mike Gundy’s teams have always been tough as nails in Stillwater, and Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs have been a bit shaky on the road, needing a miracle to beat Tech in Lubbock and not putting K-State away until Trevonne Boykin hit Josh Doctson for a touchdown pass with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter a few weeks back. OSU has had similar troubles, such as have been well-documented here and elsewhere. And how does one stop Trevonne Boykin? One does not stop Boykin: one only delays him. Out of all the teams left on TCU’s schedule, I think OSU stands the best chance to do it, and like the Pokes in the upset in Stillwater.
Iowa State 24, No. 15 Oklahoma 56. Paul Rhoads may have saved his job by beating Texas 24-0 nothing last week, a score that leaves OU’s 24-17 loss to those same Horns all the more indecipherable. I can’t say I wasn’t shocked at the Cyclones victory, especially as I thought that the Horns had turned a corner. Apparently not. But no such luck for ISU in Norman: Bob Stoops is 10-0 all time against Iowa State, winning those games by a combined margin of 404-86, and the Sooner’s all time record against the Cyclones is a heady 72-5-2.
Kansas 17, Texas 28. Welp, this week we discovered that one really good way to do away with all the good will you’ve accrued from beating your archrival is to lose to a team that was predicted by most not to win another game this year, like Iowa State. Charlie Strong said last year that the Horns would never again lose five games in a season on his watch; turns out, they’ll be incredibly fortunate just to finish the season at 6-6. There’s little chance it happens, but the collective anguish in Austin if the Horns lost to KU at home would probably blot out the sun. KU hasn’t beaten Texas since 1938, which was the final meeting of the two teams before the founding of the Big 12 in 1996.