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.
Here’s what the bracket would look like today:
After earning its first signature win by beating Michigan State in East Lansing, Ohio State jumped from No. 14 to No. 8 and replaced the Spartans at that spot. The biggest jump, though, was by UCLA, which climbed from No. 18 to No. 11.
Once again, there was no Group of Five team ranked in the Top 25, which left undefeated Marshall on the outside.
As for the other major bowls, the Orange Bowl lost the ACC champion (FSU), so it gets the next highest ranked ACC team, No. 19 Clemson. Then the Orange selects the next highest ranked team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. That would pit Clemson against No. 5 Alabama.
Here’s what New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day could look like, based on today’s ranking:
12:30 p.m. ET – Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 9 Auburn vs. Marshall
4 p.m. ET – VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: No. 6 Arizona State vs. No. 8 Ohio State
8 p.m. ET – Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 19 Clemson vs. No. 5 Alabama
12:30 p.m. ET – Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 10 Ole Miss
5 p.m. ET – Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State (semifinal No. 1)
8:30 p.m. ET – Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 4 TCU (semifinal No. 2)
For this projection, undefeated Marshall was chosen for a New Year’s Six Bowl. The Thundering Herd were ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press poll and No. 26 in ESPN’s Football Power Index. If a Group of 5 conference champion doesn’t play its way into the committee’s ranking by Dec. 7, the committee will compare all five champions before selecting one to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl. It will not rank beyond 25 teams.