OU football: Playoff committee gives Big 12 little love
New York City dang near went bankrupt in 1975, and when President Gerald Ford denied Gotham a federal bailout, the New York Daily News put it quite bluntly in a famous banner headline the next morning.
FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD
Big 12 football now knows how New York City felt. The College Football Playoff committee has declared its opinion of the Big 12 in 2019. Need a headline for the committee’s latest rankings, released Tuesday night?
COMMITTEE TO BIG 12: DROP DEAD
What else can be gleaned from the Sooners rising only from 10th to ninth in the rankings, after a 34-31 road victory at previously-unbeaten Baylor? The Bears, underrated last week at No. 13, fell to No. 14 this week. And now OU’s path to the playoff is clear.
The Sooners must have help. The Sooners can’t win their way in.
There is no other way to view the rankings less than three weeks before Selection Sunday. The Pac-12’s 9-1 teams, Utah and Oregon, are headed for a conference championship game, as are the Big 12’s 9-1 teams, Oklahoma and Baylor. But while Oregon is ranked sixth, Utah seventh and OU ninth, Baylor is mired at No. 14.
Barring a big upset of LSU, Ohio State or Clemson, only one available playoff spot remains. How are the Sooners supposed to jump the Utah-Oregon winner, should they meet as 11-1 teams?
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The committee is no fan of the Baylor résumé, and Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, chairman of the committee, basically tells us why. The committee is penalizing Baylor for its non-conference schedule.
Two straight weeks, Mullens has mentioned that Baylor’s non-conference schedule consists of three teams (Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio and Rice) with a combined seven wins this season. And Mullens is right; Baylor’s non-conference schedule stinks, and a public shaming of the Bears is warranted.
But it’s funny. Mullens is quick to point out that the committee doesn’t look at conferences or conference record. So why is the committee spotlighting non-conference results?
“We’re looking at all the games,” Mullens said on a teleconference Tuesday night. “The difference is, the non-conference schedule they control, and the conference schedule they don’t control.”
That is a difference, but it’s not a difference that should matter to the committee. Here’s a question: how does Baylor’s Big 12 schedule compare to Utah’s Pac-12 schedule?
I can answer that. Baylor’s is better. Baylor has played the other nationally relevant team in the Big 12 (OU). Utah has not played the other nationally relevant team in the Pac-12 (Oregon). Baylor has played two other Big 12 teams ranked in the top 25 — No. 21 Oklahoma State and No. 22 Iowa State, beating both. Utah has played one Pac-12 team ranked in the top 25 — No. 23 Southern Cal, and the Utes lost to the Trojans.
Baylor’s conference résumé is not only better than Utah’s conference résumé, it is vastly better. So how could the committee place Utah not just ahead of Baylor, but seven slots ahead of the Bears?
Maybe the committee is giving Utah credit for winning in a dominant fashion. The Utes have just one close call among its nine wins, a 33-28 victory at Washington. Baylor sports close calls against Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU, the latter two in multiple overtimes.
But Mullens doesn’t mention close calls. He mentions Baylor’s non-conference schedule.
So what does it all mean? It means the Sooners are in trouble. OU can pick up brownie points with a Bedlam victory, since the Cowboys then could be 8-3 and ranked in the top 20. But the committee showed the Sooners little love winning in Waco without CeeDee Lamb. How much love will the committee show the Sooners if they beat Baylor in Arlington with Lamb?
Hope is not lost. Oregon (at Arizona State, Oregon State) or Utah (at Arizona, Colorado) could lose before championship weekend. South Carolina could upset Clemson, I suppose.
But much more likely is that Georgia upsets LSU or Penn State upsets Ohio State, either of which could choke the openings for OU or the Pac-12 teams.
So the Sooners’ chances are slim, after a rankings reveal that issued a clear message to Big 12 football 2019. Drop dead.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
1. LSU (10-0)
2. Ohio State (10-0)
3. Clemson (11-0)
4. Georgia (9-1)
5. Alabama (9-1)
6. Oregon (9-1)
7. Utah (9-1)
8. Penn State (9-1)
9. Oklahoma (9-1)
10. Minnesota (9-1)