The College Football Playoff selection committee has some hard choices to make. Starting Friday night in Santa Clara, California, and ending Saturday night in Indianapolis, every one of its top six teams from last week won.
Of course, it only has four playoff spots to dole out.
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.
Which team is most deserving of a playoff spot?
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. Both teams shared the Big 12 title with identical 11-1 records.
Final comparison of TCU vs. Baylor - TCU better in 7 of 9, but both had 6 blowouts (+21 or more) - pic.twitter.com/XGFyOF5xam— The Playoff Guru (@ThePlayoffGuru) December 7, 2014
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. 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 Top 25
|1||1||Alabama||No. 8 Miss State||No. 9 Ole Miss|
|2||2||Oregon||No. 7 Michigan State||No. 12 Arizona|
|3||3||TCU||No. 11 Kansas State||No. 6 Baylor|
|4||4||Florida State||No. 10 Georgia Tech||None|
|5||5||Ohio State||No. 7 Michigan State||Virginia Tech (6-6)|
|6||6||Baylor||No. 3 TCU||West Virginia (7-5)|
* 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 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.
|Sugar Bowl (Playoff)||Alabama (SEC) vs. Florida State (ACC)|
|Rose Bowl (Playoff)||Oregon (Pac-12) vs. TCU (Big 12)|
|Peach Bowl||Ohio State (Big Ten) vs. Miss State (SEC)|
|Cotton Bowl||Baylor (Big 12) vs. Ole Miss (SEC)|
|Orange Bowl||Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. Georgia Tech (ACC)|
|Fiesta Bowl||Arizona (Pac-12) vs. Boise State (MWC)*|
* Group of Five bid
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