Of course chairman Jeff Long sprung another new committee “criteria” this week to explain its latest rankings. But at least this time it’s something you’ve heard of before.
The committee has now dispensed with all notions of using analytics in evaluating teams. Now it’s just who looks good and who doesn’t (but this might change next week, you just never know). They know who’s good because they’re watching film, you know, though we don’t know if it’s the all-22 version or just highlights from SportsCenter.
What Long didn’t explain is that while one-loss Alabama and Notre Dame looked so good as to be deserving of a playoff spot right now, what has Ohio State done exactly? The Buckeyes hardly looked good to anyone – not even to their own coach – but presumably we’ll find out next week with some new metric that Long’s itching to invent.
Got a headache yet? Good. We told you not to watch the selection dog-and-pony show two weeks ago and you didn’t listen. But now you should pay attention to this week’s games (out of all these on national TV) and be prepared for what kind of yarn Long spins next week:
(Rankings by selection committee)
Game of the Week
2. Alabama at 17. Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Will Alabama have a letdown this week after trucking LSU in their gargantuan showdown last week? You bet. It’s just a matter of how big of a letdown it’s going to be and if it’s still good enough to beat Mississippi State.
The Crimson Tide are hardly in a position to relax. Because of its prior loss to Ole Miss, another defeat will hand the SEC West race right back in the hands of LSU. And Miss State is definitely no cakewalk, since it’s actually more offensively versatile than the Tigers with Dak Prescott as the pilot.
A year ago the Tide barely escaped with a win at Tuscaloosa, 25-20. This time around they have to deal with the cowbells in Stillwater.
Other games the committee will be watching
Arkansas at 9. LSU, 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Oregon at 7. Stanford, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Minnesota at 5. Iowa, 8 p.m. ET, BTN
12. Oklahoma at 6. Baylor, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
10. Utah at Arizona, 10 p.m. ET, FS1
As of right now (depending on how much stock you give to committee’s current rankings), the Pac-12 is firmly on the outside of the playoff picture. The conference’s best hope is for both Stanford and Utah – its only one-loss teams – to win out and claim their respective divisions and face each other in the Pac-12 title game. Short of that happening the Pac-12 will be sitting out the second edition of the College Football Playoff.
The Big 12 is in a similar position with no team currently in the top five of the committee standings. And if unbeaten Baylor and Oklahoma State somehow both lose in the season’s final three weeks, then the conference will miss out on the playoff for the second year in a row. The Big 12 needs to furnish an unbeaten and undisputed champion, no ifs and buts.
Iowa has to be the most surprising of the remaining six unbeaten teams and the committee has now elevated it to No. 5, within striking distance of a playoff spot. The Hawkeyes do not face another team with a winning record the rest of the regular season and have a great shot at rolling into the Big Ten championship game with a 12-0 record.
Also keep an eye on …
21. Memphis at 24. Houston, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Memphis’ loss to Navy last week took some sheen off this matchup but it’s still a key game in deciding the American Athletic title race. Without question, the winner of the AAC championship will end up with this year’s Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid, and the winner of this game may very well win the AAC West.
This game also features college football’s two hottest young coaches in Memphis’ Justin Fuente and Houston’s Tom Herman. Don’t be surprised that neither of these coaches return to this game next year as both are prime candidates for various Power 5 openings.
Kansas at 15. TCU, noon ET, FS1
We’re pretty dead-on with this pick usually, but when we were wrong, we were spectacularly wrong. Last week’s game not only wasn’t a blowout but the decided underdog actually pulled the upset. We only erred once before this season and it was the Texas-Oklahoma stunner.
We’re pretty sure about this week’s game, though. TCU is in a foul mood after last week’s loss to Oklahoma State that ruined its playoff chances. The Jayhawks, at 0-9 won’t get off the schneid this week after giving up 179 points in their last three games. The beatings will continue until (something) improves.
Last week’s Despicable Meet: Nebraska 39, Michigan State 38 (upset).