This time of year, in College Football, we are always thankful for the same thing: Rivalries.
Families gather around the turkey and TVs to wage war on who is the best team in their area and ultimate bragging rights. And we have four straight days of football—the best weekend since the opening Labor Day five-day weekend— at it’s purest.
Don’t believe me, check out these names.
Egg Bowl, Civil War, Commonwealth Cup, Governor’s Cup, Apple Cup, BUTT Bowl, Clean, Old Fashion Hate, Land of Lincoln Hat, The Old Oaken Bucket, The Game, Paul Bunyan’s Axe, Territorial Cup, Iron Bowl and Bedlam.
Not only are bragging rights at stake, but also championships are the line for each conference as well as the College Football Playoff. With seven teams left that have a real good shot at cracking the top four, and a small handful with the most outside of outside chances, we review our three takeaways from tonight’s Committee Rankings.
The Secret Lies with Bedlam
The Big 12 champion will have a lot to say about who gets the No. 4 spot in the 2021 CFP. There are three teams left who could win the league title: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor.
The Cowboys and Sooners each have one loss, however, only the Pokes have already secured their spot in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma must beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater this Saturday in order to advance to play the Cowboys again.
Otherwise, Baylor would get in with a win over Texas Tech to play Oklahoma State. This would ensure that Oklahoma would snap their six-year Big 12 title streak by not winning the league for the first time since 2014.
But what would ensure a Big 12 team in the Playoff?
With a championship, all three teams would ascend quickly, but how high? They must pass at least three of these teams they currently look up at:
One-loss Notre Dame
Two-loss Michigan OR Ohio State
If the Sooners or Cowboys win out and become a one-loss conference champ, then they should pass the loser of the Wolverines and Buckeyes as well as the championship-less Irish.
I would argue that they should also pass a two-loss, non-champion Alabama and would be in along with Georgia, Ohio State and Cincinnati. The Committee may not see it that way though, and therefore a Bearcat loss would certainly help the Big 12 champ.
The Big 12 certainly holds an advantage over the ACC and Pac-12. What makes it tough is being behind an undefeated Bearcat squad, two SEC beloveds and the historic Fighting Irish.
Should any Big 12 team win with two losses, then they will most likely stay behind Notre Dame, Cincinnati (even with a loss), and both SEC division winners. In addition, they probably are now competing with a two-loss Big Ten team, and potentially Oregon if the Ducks can fix their quack.
Due to momentum, Baylor has the best case to become the first ever two-loss team to make the CFP because a) they will have impressively stormed to a conference title which includes a win over Oklahoma; b) they hold one of the best non-conference wins of the year over No. 13 BYU; and c) they will have avenged their road loss to Oklahoma State by winning on a neutral field.
The question would become do the Bears jump a one-loss Notre Dame team? I would argue yes, since they own a conference championship. Would they jump a two-loss Michigan? Again, yes due to having the title. Would they jump an undefeated Cincinnati? No; not even sure if they would jump a one-loss Bearcat squad.
Would they jump a two-loss Alabama? I would certainly argue that they should, however, the Committee has never placed a two-loss team in the CFP before. So I believe they would be far more likely to bestow that honor to Alabama or pick a safe team like Notre Dame.
As an aside, it is crazy to think that this is what Baylor has done in the past five years with two different coaches:
2017: 1-11; New Coach post scandal
2019: 11-3; Lost Big 12 title and Sugar Bowl
2020: 2-7; New first year coach in Covid
To think that Baylor has had outside chances to make the CFP in two of the past three years with a coaching chance and Covid-19 taking place in between is nothing short of astounding.
In 2019, the Bears got all the brakes to make the CFP but failed to win the Big 12 crown in overtime with their third-string quarterback. It remains to be seen if Baylor will get the brakes this year to even play for a Big 12 title.
Looking up and down the rankings and projecting at least some of the chaos that is about to materialize, there are several teams who are kicking themselves for losing some needless games this season.
Had those losses not have happened, these teams may be looking at an opportunity to make or sneak into the Playoff.
No. 15 Texas A&M
The Aggies have the most exciting, and nationally praised, win of the year over Alabama. And yet, defeats to Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have cannibalized any chance at Jimbo Fisher’s squad had to win the SEC and crack the CFP.
No. 18 Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons had an opportunity to clinch the ACC Atlantic by dethroning Clemson. Instead they lost 48-27 and kept the Tigers slim hopes for winning their seventh straight conference title. Though Wake still controls their ACC destiny, they do not control their CFP destiny.
No. 17 Pitt
The Panthers, winner of the ACC Coastal, also falls into this category of regret. Largely for allowing 44 points to Western Michigan in an embarrassing non-conference defeat. A let down game after winning a barn burner in Knoxville against Tennessee. Their only other loss was to Miami on Halloween weekend.
No. 8 Baylor
We spoke about the Bears above, but as the highest ranked two-loss team, coach Dave Aranda must be kicking himself for losing in Fort Worth to TCU.
No. 13 BYU
BYU went 5-1 against Power 5 opponents this season with their only loss to Baylor. They can improve that record this weekend with a win over USC to go perfect against the Pac-12, which includes South winner Utah. It is a loss to Boise State that has marred the Cougars from at least being included in the discussion.
No. 14 Wisconsin
The Badgers did not look like themselves at the beginning of the year, but now control their own destiny to win the Big Ten West. Two of their three losses are bludgeonings at the hands of top 10 teams Notre Dame and Michigan; the other was a six-point defensive struggle against the Nittany Lions in the season opener.
No. 23 Clemson
The Tigers could still be in the national spotlight, but have not looked themselves for much of the year. But their three losses are as follows: a double overtime, six-point road loss to the Wolfpack; a 10-point road loss to Pitt and a seven-point neutral site opening weekend loss to No. 1 Georgia where they did not even allow an offensive touchdown.
This is why Cincinnati needs to continue to be rewarded for staying perfect. Especially since they went on the road against the Irish and Power 5 Hoosiers and have powered through a not too sloppy American conference. If they can beat East Carolina and then Houston for the title, the Bearcats should be in.
A New Favorite?
The Georgia Bulldogs have been undefeated all year and have punished anybody who has taken the field against them. However, there seems to be a new favorite and they are based in Columbus, Ohio.
Now the Buckeyes still need to win ‘The Game’ on the road in ‘The Big House’ verses ‘The team up north’ as well as the Big Ten title game, but after they smashed the Spartans 49-0 by halftime….
Well, the people were impressed. And the Committee was so impressed that they moved them to No. 2 in this week’s rankings over Alabama. That is the first time this year that ‘Bama has been displaced from that spot.
Look at the production by the offensive skill players for Ohio State:
QB CJ Stoud: 3,468 passing yards, 36 TDs, 5 INTs
RB TreVeyon Henderson: 1,098 rushing yards (7.3/carry), 14 TDs
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba: 1,132 receiving yards, 6 TDs
WR Garrett Wilson: 939 receiving yards, 11 TDs
WR Chris Olave: 848 receiving yards, 13 TDs
Many folks are penciling in Georgia and Ohio State in a national champonship final. But keep those erasers handy, we still have two weeks left of CFB chaos.
Until next week; have a Happy Thanksgiving!