Playoff picture: Week 13

Last week, the controversy was over TCU and Baylor.

That hasn't gone away. It just has a new twist.

This week, the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee have another dilemma: keep TCU in the top four or have two SEC teams in, Alabama and Mississippi State? Also, several brand-name programs, such as Clemson and Notre Dame, lost and should drop out of the rankings, opening the door for an undefeated Marshall or another Group of 5 team.

There were plenty of Week 12 surprises in every conference that will help shape the committee’s top 25. Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from the Power 5 conferences heading into Tuesday’s reveal:

Big 12

Who was helped: Baylor. The Bears had a bye week, but in addition to the head-to-head win over TCU, they can now add the Horned Frogs’ struggles against Kansas to their ammunition against them. Baylor also got a small boost when Minnesota lost to Ohio State, as that was the best nonconference win on TCU’s schedule and a point of separation between TCU and Baylor. The Bears’ nonconference schedule and loss to West Virginia remain sticking points, but TCU’s underwhelming performance could sway some members.

Who was hurt: TCU. It shouldn’t have been that difficult. TCU was trailing 27-17 in the third quarter to a Kansas team that has won two Big 12 games in four years, and that can’t be ignored. If it wasn’t for the 69-yard punt return for a touchdown, it would have been the biggest upset of the weekend. Quarterback Trevone Boykin was off, and TCU had three turnovers. It wasn’t a top-four performance, but the committee has to consider the whole body of work, not one Saturday.


Who was helped: Florida State. Seminoles fans need a defibrillator close by when they’re watching these games. Heck, don’t even turn the game on until the fourth quarter. It’s healthier. Miami gave the Noles all they could handle, but once again, FSU found a way to win in the second half, keeping its playoff hopes alive. Florida State’s undefeated record wasn’t enough to keep the Noles in the top two last week and it’s possible the committee could drop them again, but they shouldn’t fall beyond the top four.

Who was hurt: Clemson. The Tigers were playing for a spot in the Orange Bowl, but they will now be replaced by Georgia Tech as the ACC’s next-highest ranked team behind Florida State. Clemson fans can only hope that the selection committee considers the knee injury to quarterback Deshaun Watson, which undoubtedly had an impact on the game. Cole Stoudt came in and threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns. Odds are that weighs more in the committee's debate than the injury.


Who was helped: Alabama. The Tide have been on the bubble in recent weeks, but an upset of No. 1-ranked Mississippi State should be enough to cement Alabama’s spot in the top four. It might even be enough to replace the Bulldogs at No. 1. Alabama is now in first place in the SEC West, and the toughest game left on its schedule is the Iron Bowl. Anything is possible, but the separation between the two rivals has widened significantly in three weeks and Alabama is clearly the better team.

Who was hurt: Auburn. The Tigers have imploded. Turned into a playoff pumpkin at the stroke of 12 weeks. They were thumped 34-7 by a Georgia team that lost to South Carolina and Florida. Try figuring that one out. Now Georgia has a better shot at getting into the SEC title game than Auburn, which has lost back-to-back games.


Who was helped: UCLA. Send the thank-you note to Oregon State, Bruins. Following the Beavers’ upset of Arizona State, UCLA became the front-runner to win the South Division. Several scenarios remain in that division, but the simplest would be for UCLA to win out and face Oregon in the title game. Win the Pac-12 and UCLA could earn a spot in the playoff -- just like everyone predicted, right? Probably not with two losses, but it depends on what happens elsewhere.

Who was hurt: Arizona State. ASU went from bubble to bust in four quarters. All the Sun Devils had to do was follow the script and they would have a shot at upsetting Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Didn’t happen. Arizona State isn’t out of the South Division’s messy race entirely, but its odds of making a postseason push just diminished significantly.

Big Ten

Who was helped: Ohio State. The Buckeyes got a second win against a top-25 opponent when they beat Minnesota, and it’s exactly what they needed to build on the win at Michigan State. It might not be enough, though, considering Florida State found a way to win again and Alabama and Mississippi State put on a good show.

Who was hurt: Nebraska. Specifically the Huskers’ run defense. Melvin Gordon was a one-man record-setting show, knocking Nebraska down in the West Division standings and essentially eliminating any already far-fetched hopes it had about making the playoff this year.