TCU stays ahead of Baylor in playoff rankings
TCU still has Baylor beat in the College Football Playoff rankings — even though the Bears got the better of the Horned Frogs on the field.
The Horned Frogs moved up to fourth in the rankings released Tuesday night, while the Bears were up to seventh, closing the gap between themselves and their Big 12 rivals.
"For the third consecutive week, the committee looked at the overall body of work, their strength of schedule, and looked at the number of top 25 wins," committee chairman Jeff Long said. "TCU has two top 25 wins and Baylor has one. And TCU’s loss is a top-10 loss. When you put all those factors together, we still think at this time TCU has a better resume and was voted that way ahead of Baylor. "
Oregon (9-1) jumped undefeated Florida State and moved into second. The Seminoles (9-0) slipped to No. 3. Mississippi State remained No. 1.
The Ducks now have three wins against teams currently in the top 25 (Michigan State, UCLA, Utah). Florida State has beaten two teams in the top 25 (Notre Dame and Clemson).
Long said the committee had a long discussion about the merits of the Ducks and Seminoles, and decided to look beyond the record.
"It was a very close call, but the committee placed significant value on Oregon’s quality of wins against three top 25 teams, two of which were on the road," Long said.
The 12-person selection committee will choose the four playoff teams on Dec. 7.
Alabama (8-1) is No. 5 and Arizona State (8-1) is sixth, and both appear to be in good shape to secure a spot in the playoff if they can keep winning.
Alabama hosts Mississippi State on Saturday. If Arizona State wins out, it would have to go through Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.
The Big 12 doesn’t have a championship game.
The Bears (8-1), coming off a decisive victory at Oklahoma, and Horned Frogs (8-1) could end the season tied atop the Big 12. If that happens, the conference has said Baylor and TCU would be co-champions.
The selection committee has been directed to use conference championships and head-to-head matchups as ways of distinguishing between teams with similar resumes.
Long said TCU’s overall body of work, which includes two wins against the top 25 (Minnesota and Kansas State) outweighed Baylor’s 61-58 victory against the Horned Frogs. TCU also beat Oklahoma, 37-33 at home.
Long stressed Baylor could still move past the Horned Frogs and the committee was not trying to make a statement about nonconference scheduling by having Baylor, which played one of the weakest nonconference schedules in the country, behind TCU.
Baylor played Buffalo, SMU and Northwestern State of the FCS. TCU played No. 25 Minnesota, SMU and Samford of the FCS. So how Minnesota fares the rest of the season — the Gophers play Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin — could help sort out those Big 12 teams if they remain tied.
"I think that our rankings will send the message," Long said. "We as a committee are not charged with sending messages to coaches and ADs about scheduling, but I think it’s likely that they will see the factors that we take into account and will take a message from that. But we’re not trying to send a message about that. We’ve said from the beginning, strength of schedule, total body of work, complete resume, all of those are factored into this decision to get to the best four teams and rank our 25."
Ohio State (8-1) is up to eighth after its big victory at Michigan State. The Buckeyes are the highest ranked team from the Big Ten.
Auburn, which had been in the top four the first two weeks of the rankings, fell to No. 9 after losing to Texas A&M at home on Saturday.