Ten observations from the penultimate Top 25 rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee…
1. Just to echo what a million other people have said or written already: By slotting Oklahoma 5th and Ohio State 6th, the committee telegraphed its future intentions. If Oklahoma defeats No. 14 Texas in the Big 12 championship game, it will block Ohio State from jumping over OU and into a potential opening in the top four. Ohio State should be able to handle No. 21 Northwestern in the Big Ten championship. But beating Texas has more value than defeating Northwestern. so the Sooners will strengthen their resume by winning the Big 12. And that’s the end for Ohio State.
2. Committee chairman Rob Mullens reaffirmed that point on Tuesday night when ESPN’s Heather Dinich asked him about the strength-of-schedule rankings that could separate Oklahoma and Ohio State. Mullens acknowledged that OU “has a little bit stronger schedule than Ohio State at this point.” Right. And Oklahoma will increase that strength of schedule advantage over Ohio State on Conference Championship Saturday.
3. But how can Oklahoma be a top four team (potentially) with a defense that ranks No. 100 out of 130 teams nationally in allowing an average of 32.8 points per game? Not that Ohio State plays great defense but the Buckeyes still have a stronger “D” than the Sooners, right? And both teams have tremendous offenses. So doesn’t that give an edge to Ohio State? Answer: No. There really isn’t all that much difference between these two teams defensively. Ohio State is giving up 25.8 points per game, which is only seven points less than Oklahoma. This season Oklahoma’s defense has been drilled for 30+ points in six games — but Ohio State has been ripped for 30+ points five times. Ohio State gave up 31 points to Oregon State, which scored 21 points or fewer in five games this season. Ohio State was rocked for 51 points by Maryland, which averaged 28.5 points per game and scored fewer than 15 points in four games. TCU scored 28 on Ohio State; the Horned Frogs scored 21 points or fewer in five other games. Unranked Purdue exploded for its season-high 49 points in routing Ohio State by a margin of 29 points earlier this season. Purdue averaged 32 points per game, and scored 21 or fewer in five contests.
Offensively, Oklahoma ranks 1st in the nation with an average of 50.3 points per game. Ohio State is 7th at 43.3 PPG.
4. Let’s go to the resume check: Oklahoma ranks No. 5 in ESPN’s Football Power Index; Ohio State ranks 6th. Oklahoma ranks 34th in strength of schedule; Ohio State is 48th. Oklahoma has three wins over Top 25 teams; Ohio State has two. Ohio State has one edge, ranking No. 5 in Strength of Record compared to Oklahoma’s No. 6. he only metric where Ohio State is ahead is in strength of record: The Buckeyes are No. 5, and the Sooners are No. 6. And this note from Stewart Mandel of The Athletic: The combined records of Oklahoma’s opponents this season is 80-61 compared to 72-70 for Ohio State’s opponents.
5. Oklahoma and Ohio State will be rooting for No. 1 Alabama to down No. 4 Georgia in the SEC title game. If the chalk wins, then Georgia will be hit with a second loss on the season — and that should open a space for Oklahoma or Ohio State in the final four. But if Georgia upsets Alabama, it won’t knock ‘Bama out of a playoff spot. Alabama would still have a place among the final four teams, along with Georgia and Clemson and Notre Dame. And that would shut out Ohio State and Oklahoma.
5a. But for those who believe that a loss by Alabama will bounce Nick Saban and the Tide from the fearsome four in favor of Oklahoma or Ohio State … dream on.
Let’s compare the number of wins against Top 25 teams:
Alabama, 4 … Oklahoma, 2 … Ohio State, 2 … and for UCF fans … UCF, 0.
6. The committee is wild about the SEC. In Tuesday’s unveiling, we saw that four of the top 10 teams repped the SEC. And the SEC has eight of the Top 25.
7. In a related note, congrats to the Mizzou Tigers, who received the No. 24 ranking from the committee. That’s MU’s first ranking of any kind since being No. 25 in the AP Poll back on Sept. 20, 2015. And the Tigers (8-4) who have won four straight, deserve the recognition.
8. Mizzou’s rise was good for Alabama. With Mizzou at No. 24 the Crimson Tide now have four blowout victories over CFP Top 25 teams. Alabama whomped LSU (10th), Mississippi State (18th) Texas A&M (19th) and Mizzou (24th) by an average of 26 points. By the way, in case you were wondering, only Notre Dame and Georgia have as many as three wins vs. the CFP Top 25.
9. LSU and Florida have clinched spots in the “New Year’s Six” bowl games, and that’s beneficial for Mizzou, which will move up to a bigger and more prestigious bowl. According to Dave Matter of the Post-Dispatch, the the Citrus Bowl has first selection of SEC teams after the New Year’s Six and could go with No. 15 Kentucky. The only other SEC teams in the hunt for that initial spot (outside of the New Year’s Six) are No. 18 Mississippi State or No. 19 Texas A&M. The SEC office dishes out the other bowl assignments, and Missouri can look forward to the Gator Bowl — or, at worst — the Music City Bowl.
10. You already knew this but the Pac-12 stinks. The highest ranked Pac-12 team is No. 11 Washington, followed by No. 13 Washington State and No. 17 Utah.
Thanks for reading …