College Football Playoff Jockeying Stretch Starts Now

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Second Year CFP Selections Could Prove Tougher

By John Ventola

Tonight the first College Football Playoff (CFP) poll of 2015 will be revealed on ESPN. Last season, the inaugural CFP poll was released a week earlier, on October 28th, after the first nine games of the season. This season panelists received an extra week of action to decipher as they put together their crucial rankings.

Last season, there were only three unbeaten teams when the first CFP was announced. This year there are currently eleven unbeaten teams, with most facing crucial games with other unbeaten squads in the coming weeks.

This year the 2015 CFP panel, consisting of thirteen members, will meet in person on Mondays and Tuesdays before announcing its weekly rankings on ESPN on five

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CFP Will Have five Tuesday Announcements Before Sunday Selection Day

consecutive Tuesdays nights. The selection day and announcement of the four Semifinal playoff teams will be held at noon Eastern Time on ESPN on Sunday, December 6th, the day following all team finales and conference championships.

Tonight’s announcement will be based primarily on the “eye test”, and certain metrics that determine strength of schedule, and competition between common foes.

Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, and Florida State earned 2014’s semifinal berths. Alabama, as the No. 1 ranked team, was able to select the Sugar Bowl as its playoff site, while No. 2 ranked Oregon was able to select the Rose Bowl for its appearance.

Like last year, the top two teams this season, will get to choose their playing sites. The 2015 season semifinal matches will be played on December 31st in the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. The national championship game will be played in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Monday night, January 11th, 2016. Using the same format, No. 1 will play No. 4 and No. 2 will face No. 3.

All three playoff games earlier this year (for 2015 season) were sellouts. The January 12th national championship game between Ohio State and Oregon at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium drew 85,689 fans. An estimated 33 million people watched the

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Inaugural CFP Games Were Huge Success

televised game. The new CFP format reportedly drew an additional 8.5 million new fans after replacing the old BCS top-two team selection process.

The thirteen-member CFP board is again chaired by Jeff Long, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Other members include, Barry Alvarez, former coach and now Director of Athletics, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Lieutenant General Mike Gould (Retired), former superintendent, United States Air Force Academy; Pat Haden, Director of Athletics, University of Southern California; Kirby Hocutt, Director of Athletics, Texas Tech University; and Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA Executive Vice-President.

The other seven are Bobby Johnson, former head coach, Vanderbilt University; Tom Osborne, former coach and former Director of Athletics, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; Dan Radakovich, Director of Athletics, Clemson University; Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University professor, former Stanford Provost, and former United States Secretary of

newspaper

CFP Committee Members Have Tough Job

State; Mike Tranghese, former Commissioner, Big East Conference; Steve Wieberg, former college football reporter, USA Today; and Tyrone Willingham, former head coach at three FBS institutions (Stanford, Notre Dame, and Washington).

Defending national champion Ohio State  is No. 1 in every weekly major poll. High scoring Baylor holds the second spot in most polls. However, both are facing quarterback issues with the Buckeyes losing one-week starter J.T. Barrett to suspension, and the Bears being forced to go without their quarterback Seth Russell after he had season-ending neck surgery. OSU can plug in Cardale Jones, star of last season’s run to the national championship, but Baylor will have to go with a backup.

Both Ohio State and Baylor have played soft schedules thus far and could be penalized by the panel for that in the initial poll.  Do not be surprised to see either Clemson or LSU jump ahead of them when schools are announced tonight.

Unbeaten LSU and Clemson hold down the third and fourth spots in the rankings. The Tigers at both schools have been impressive as Heisman Trophy hopeful Leonard

Lenord F

Fournette Gained 150 Yards Against Western Kentucky

Fournette continues to set rushing records, and the South Carolinians handed Notre Dame its only defeat. Each faces a major obstacle this week as LSU plays at Alabama, and Clemson battles Florida State.

TCU plays Oklahoma State this week, and still has to play Baylor. Of those three, all unbeaten in the “defenseless” Big 12, only one will be able to survive the face-to-face matchups and be considered for a CFP post at the end of the season. The league flat out plays no defense as league games all look like track meets. Last year, it cost TCU and Baylor dearly.

Memphis, Houston, and Iowa are unbeaten also, but strength of schedule will, no doubt, short circuit any visions of any one of them climbing into the top four. Additionally, Memphis and Houston play each other in the coming weeks.

Michigan State, courtesy of an unbelievable last play score to beat arch-rival Michigan, could get into the playoff picture if they best Ohio State. One or the other should be in the CFP.

Notre Dame, beaten only by Clemson, continues to lurk in the Top Ten. The Irish dropped Temple from the unbeaten ranks last week, but will have to beat Stanford before further consideration.

Last season both highly rated Baylor and TCU were not included in the semifinal choices. The SEC (Alabama), the PAC-12 (Oregon), the Big Ten (Ohio State), and ACC (Florida State) were chosen over the Big 12 co-champions. Baylor defeated TCU last year in a 61-58 track meet, and was beaten by West Virginia while barely besting Texas Tech by two points, 48-46. To cause more consternation on the part of the CFP committee, TCU beat Texas Tech 82-27, a 53-point disparity for a common foe of both Baylor and the Horned Frogs.

There were two basic arguments against the Big 12 last year. First, the league has no conference championship, and second, the league’s teams play very little defense. The winner of this year’s Baylor-TCU matchup will have to go undefeated to secure one of the semifinal spots because teams in the league have shown defense is not a priority. The Big 12 Conference again chose to not have a conference championship game in 215.

The next five weeks should provide much excitement. Let the important games begin!

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