CFP Selection Committee Had Many Variables To Compare

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High Noon On Pearl Harbor Date Should Prove Interesting

By John Ventola

“I heard it through the Grapevine. Oh and I’m just about to lose my mind.” With apologies to Marvin Gaye for borrowing a couple of lines from his famous hit song, the lyrics seem fitting as there are football fans all over America waking up this morning and wondering what four teams the College Football Playoff selection committee came up with after late night Saturday and early morning Sunday balloting. The 12-member committee gathered in Grapevine, Texas to watch college football’s final week of games and had the tough task of picking four semi-final teams from six deserving squads.

The Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl are this year’s two semi-final playing sites. Winners of the two January 1 games will play in A T & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on January 12th for the national championship. The No. 1 ranked team will get to select its playing site. If Alabama is selected No. 1, it is expected to play in New Orleans whereas if Oregon is chosen No. 1, it will choose to play in the Rose Bowl. That would allow their fan bases to fill up familiar stadiums and keep their traveling to a minimum.

Alabama crushed Missouri 42-13 to win its 24th Southeastern Conference (SEC) title and put itself in position to continue the league’s last decade of excellence. The SEC

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SEC Again Takes Part In NCAA Championship

won seven consecutive national championships before Florida State rallied to score in the final thirteen seconds of last season’s title game to defeat Auburn. Alabama’s only lose was 23-17 to Ole Miss in Oxford back in early October and Nick Saban’s team looks like it is hitting on all cylinders during its last three games. Blake Sims continued his steady play at quarterback as he passed for 262 yards and two touchdowns and Derrick Henry carried 20 times for 141 yards. Amari Cooper caught twelve passes to open up the field for Alabama. The Tide defense held Missouri to ten first downs.

Oregon got revenge for their only loss of the season to Arizona, walloping the Wildcats 51-13 in the Pac-12 championship game. The Ducks feature probable Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota at quarterback, and a bevy of fast running backs and receivers. Make no mistake, Mariota is the linchpin and as he goes, so goes Oregon. Although he redeemed himself with his Friday performance against Arizona by passing for two touchdowns and running for three scores, Mariota struggled in the Wildcats 31-24 victory over the Ducks earlier in the year.

TCU faced a huge disadvantage Saturday as it was not playing for a conference title and it was playing an opponent it was expected to beat handily. The Horned Frogs stomped Iowa State 55-3 and Coach Gary Patterson said after the game he did not see how his team, ranked third in last week’s CFP rankings, could drop two spots and miss the playoffs after beating an opponent by 52 points. Two major things, however, will work against TCU. The Big 12 has no championship game, and the Horned Frogs lost to conference rival Baylor 61-58 in head-to-head competition and only beat West

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TCU Could Drop Two Spots Despite 52-Point Victory

Virginia by one point on a late field goal on the road. The CFP selection committee listed conference championships (TCU is co-champion of Big 12 with Baylor), strength of schedule, and head-to-head results as important criteria since the committee was first formed.

The Florida State Seminoles of the past two seasons would have been a favorite team of former Oakland Raiders owner and coach Al Davis. Davis use to urge his team on with the phrase, “just win baby”. Well, the Seminoles have now run their winning streak to twenty nine games, and finished the season as the only unbeaten team. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston continues to do just enough to lead FSU to victory after victory. Saturday’s 37-35 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game showcased Winston passing for 309 yards and three touchdowns, running back Dalvin Cook rushing for 177 yards on 31 carries, and placekicker Robert Aguayo’s three second half field goals. Aguayo was last season’s Lou Groza winner, an award given to the country’s top placekicker, and is a lock to walk away with this year’s award. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game he would rank his team No. 1.

Baylor, another Big 12 offensive machine, faced with not having a Big 12 title game, beat a formidable opponent in league foe Kansas State 38-26 and can point to its three point victory over TCU in Waco. The Bears lost on the road to West Virginia. Baylor coach Art Briles feels the Bears victory over TCU (Baylor is co-champion of the Big 12 with TCU) should have his team in the final four. The Bears have gone 11-1 the past two regular seasons. Quarterback Bryce Petty leads the fast-paced Bears offense. He led Baylor back from a 21-point deficit to edge TCU the second week of October. However, another fact that could hurt Baylor is its 48-46 victory over league rival Texas Tech. TCU beat the Red Raiders 82-27, a 53-point disparity against a common foe.

Ohio State, which suffered an early season embarrassment when it lost 35-21 at home to Virginia Tech, made a late season push and impressively defeated Wisconsin 59-0 in

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Ohio State Made Push But Played In Weak League

the Big Ten championship game. Ohio State won a conference championship game and the question before the committee is whether the home defeat to Virginia Tech the second week of the season was worse than TCU’s three point loss to Baylor on the road, or Baylor’s 41-27 loss to West Virginia on the road. The Buckeyes have lost its top two quarterbacks to injury, but third string quarterback Cardale Jones stepped in and was outstanding in the Wisconsin game. Jones passed for 257 yards and three scores while Buckeye running back Ezekial Elliott scampered for 220 yards in 20 carries, scoring on an 81-yard jaunt. The OSU defense stifled probable Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon, holding him to 76 yards rushing, most coming late in the contest. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said after the Big Ten championship runaway that his team right now is one of the best teams in the country. Maybe so, but the Big Ten was unusually weak this year and the Buckeyes had to go to overtime to beat a mediocre Penn State team 31-24.

TCU coach Gary Patterson, Baylor coach Art Briles, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, two of the three coaches will be very disappointed when the CFP final four selections are announced on ESPN at 12:30 EST Sunday. Fort Worth, Waco (no mention of David Koresh here), and Columbus may not resemble Pearl Harbor seventy-three years ago today, but each citizenry that had a team left out of the CFP playoff will feel like they got kicked in the gut.

The Big 12 will probably regret not having a conference championship game and the fact even Stevie Wonder can see that none of the league’s teams play any kind of defense. Or the Big Ten could finally get the message that the conference is no longer the respected, feared super conference from years ago. The SEC holds that spot now, and today’s announcement and the subsequent semi-final and championship game results should show why that is once again true.

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