Bye weeks, the evolving playoff rankings and Marshall's big game
> 1. Notre Dame is proud of the fact that it is one of three remaining FBS programs that has not played an FCS opponent. As Chris Spielman pointed out on the Championship Drive podcast Tuesday, while Alabama got pushed to the limit and beyond (overtime) Saturday night, Mississippi State tailback Josh Robinson carried the ball only six times against UT-Martin. Well, here's another angle about bye weeks: TCU and Baylor, without a championship game, get three bye weeks this season. Teams that play in conferences with a championship game get two bye weeks. Will the committee take that into account?
2. I like the idea of one-loss No. 2 Oregon moving ahead of No. 3 unbeaten Florida State based on "strength of schedule and body of work," as committee chair Jeff Long said. And I like the idea of No. 4 TCU being ranked ahead of No. 7 Baylor, despite TCU's having lost to the Bears. We have a precedent of a head-to-head matchup being overruled by the rest of the season (see Notre Dame and Florida State in 1993). But I wonder whether the ideas above will withstand the reality of making a final decision. No matter what decision the committee makes now, it doesn't have to be right until Dec. 7.
3. Everything you want to know about Marshall's problems in gaining traction with the committee comes down to this: The Thundering Herd's (9-0, 5-0) biggest game of the regular season is Saturday against Rice. That's not meant to denigrate the Owls (6-3, 4-1), the defending C-USA champ and the latest team to beat Marshall. It's just that Rice, which lost to Notre Dame by 31 and to Texas A&M by 28, is the best team on Marshall's schedule. Not to mention, among Marshall's 11 FBS opponents, Rice and Middle Tennessee are the only ones above .500.
Maybe next week, Alabama.
The Crimson Tide had fans and media gushing after its gritty 20-13 overtime win Saturday at LSU, but the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee chose TCU for the No. 4 spot instead.
In what was the biggest news of this week's ranking, the No. 4 Horned Frogs not only leaped the Tide, but they also once again topped No. 7 Baylor in spite of the head-to-head result, which gives the committee two things: consistency and controversy. The group set precedent with its initial ranking, and it hasn't strayed from that, even though Baylor beat TCU on Oct. 11 and just completely upended Oklahoma 48-14. TCU has plenty on its resume to warrant its ranking though, including a recent 41-20 win over then-No. 7 Kansas State.
Buried behind the committee's confidence in TCU was the fact that Oregon jumped undefeated Florida State for the No. 2 spot. That move showed the committee doesn't necessarily believe an undefeated record determines the best teams in the country. It was an overshadowed but important decision that will be referenced in future years.
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