Four-team college playoff produces more chaos

By Steve Sell
December 09, 2014

The purpose of college football’s four-team playoff to determine a first-ever, true, cut-and-dried national champion has only made matters worse.

Chaos reigned supreme Sunday after the announcement that TCU — which probably thought it had a stranglehold on one of the four spots — was leapfrogged (or Horned Frogged?) by Ohio State, leaving the Big 12 on the outside looking in.

Of course with this being Big 12 country, can you blame us for not crying foul? TCU pummeled Iowa State 55-3 and its reward was to drop like a bad stock.

Ohio State jumped two spots to No. 4 on the basis of its 59-0 drop-kick of a Wisconsin team that took leave of its senses on Saturday with an inept defensive performance against the Buckeyes’ No. 3 quarterback.

Meanwhile, Baylor — the team that probably has the most to yelp about — scored a 38-27 win over a Kansas State team that had entered the weekend ranked No. 9 in the country.

Sure, Baylor played the most tissue-soft of nonconference schedules. But those games were back in September when it probably thought nobody was paying close attention.

When you look at the Bears’ overall body of work, they defeated TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma, which to me far exceeds anything Ohio State did. There’s no doubt the Big 10 was down this year, with longtime staples Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska (nine wins, but none that stood out) being mediocre, while Maryland and Rutgers did little to add to its prestige. The Buckeyes’ loss came to so-so Virginia Tech and it struggled in games with Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan.

I have no problems with the top three teams as Alabama, Oregon and Florida State were placed accordingly. A lot of folks thought that Florida State’s string of sliding-by victories should have left it out, but who else was undefeated in one of the Power-5 Conferences? Remember, Florida State got everyone’s best shot since it was the defending national champion and the pressure it was under was immense.

I think much of the criticism toward Florida State has to do with the never-ending string of touchy situations that quarterback Jameis Winston finds himself in. Winston has become somewhat of a villain in the eyes of some, even though he seems to always evade the law. Even though he’s the star quarterback of the nation’s only perfect team and the defending Heisman Trophy winner, you don’t hear his name in the talk this year because of his alleged transgressions.

I would have loved to have seen Alabama and Baylor match up in the semifinals. The Bears seemingly can score at will, but would they have been able to stand up to the Crimson Tide’s raw power in the offensive and defensive lines? The Big 12 has such an emphasis on high-scoring, free-wheeling offenses that it doesn’t recruit as much on the defensive side, one reason I believe it could be a long time before it has a national champion again.

Meanwhile, the short shrift of the Big 12 continued when Kansas State was left out of one of the “Big 6” bowls despite finishing No. 11 in the final poll. I thought the Wildcats might get in, but instead has to settle for the Alamo Bowl and a matchup with UCLA, which isn’t a bad consolation prize. It would have been interesting to see where the Wildcats would have ended up had they toppled Baylor on Saturday, but the Bears seem to have their number in Waco.


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