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Reaction to CFB Playoff Field

Unfortunately, TCU won't get a chance in this year's Playoffs.
College football officially ushered in a new era today when the College Football Playoff Committee officially unveiled their four final teams that would be squaring off in the first ever College Football Playoff. Alabama earned the No. 1 spot in the rankings, followed by Oregon, Florida State and the big surprise of it all, Ohio State, who jumped both Baylor and TCU to earn the fourth and final spot. Not only did the Horned Frogs fall out of the four-team Playoff field, they also dropped behind Baylor all the way down to sixth, despite dominating Iowa State by 52 points yesterday. Being a Minnesota fan and living in Big Ten country, I should ultimately be excited about the Buckeyes leaping into the field. But, I'm not, because the Committee completely, utterly screwed up.

First let's backtrack a bit, to early in the 2014-2015 season. The Buckeyes, without Braxton Miller and with a struggling rush defense, were struggling. They survived a scare from Navy and then would be upset by Virginia Tech. Wait, but they weren't merely upset by the Hokies, they were dominated at home, to a team that looked quicker, stronger and vastly superior to them. That Hokies' team would need a close victory over archrival Virginia to barely sneak into a bowl at 6-6. Though, one could argue that is was early in the year, and the young J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes just needed some time to adjust. While victories against Maryland and Michigan State were convincing, Ohio State got multiple scares from unspectacular Big Ten teams: they got all they could handle from Penn State, played a relatively uninspired performance against 5-7 Michigan and were not overwhelmingly strong against a terrible Indiana team. When J.T. Barrett, who was putting together a marvelous season, went down with a season-ending injury, it appeared positive OSU was out of the running and the TCU-Baylor discussion heated up. A 59-0 victory in the Big Ten Championship Game certainly convinced me this Ohio State team was a good football team, but it did far from convince me they were good enough to overtake both TCU and Baylor.

TCU really, sincerely, did all they could to get into the field. A 61-58 shootout loss to Baylor clearly hurt their chances, but it was on the road in a hostile environment, with TCU dominating the Bears much of the game. The Horned Frogs' non conference schedule included a sneaky Minnesota team who they dominated, and the Horned Frogs would also dominate Kansas State and Oklahoma, and put up 82 points. But, the lack of a Big 12 Championship Game killed them, and it is the same thing that killed Baylor's chances. The fact that the Big 12 did not choose to name a conference champion (despite hailing their conference as the only conference that has "one true champion") also greatly hurt the Bears and Horned Frogs. If your conference can't manage to put together a championship game, name a champion, co-champs is a complete joke.

The committee is supposed to take common opponents into play as a major criteria on determining the four-team field, which is another reason why dropping TCU made zero sense. The Horned Frogs went out and played a tough Minnesota team at home, and absolutely demolished them. They would win by nearly four touchdowns and completely control the game from start to finish. When Ohio State played the same Gopher team, they won by seven and were not anywhere close to as dominant as TCU was. A common argument for Ohio State is their strength of schedule, which is statistically stronger than TCU's or Baylor's SOS. But, the difference is not enough to overtake Ohio State's lackluster performances and TCU's quality of wins over their opponents.

The fact of the matter is, TCU doesn't have the football rep nor the money of Ohio State, nor does Baylor. While it is sad to think, that was most likely a major reason why the Buckeyes got in, as a Ohio State-Alabama matchup is more appealing to most than a TCU-Alabama showdown. This is frustrating for TCU and Baylor and it should be a wake up call to the College Football Playoff that it must increase to eight teams and to the Big 12 that is must have a conference championship, which would mean adding at least two more teams (Cincinnati, BYU and Boise State could all be in the picture). The "criteria" the Committee was basing their rankings on do not spell out Ohio State making the Playoff over TCU and Baylor and it has cast a shadow over a bold new era in the sport. Congrats to TCU and congrats to Baylor, both of those teams were some great football teams, something that should not be overlooked, no matter which side you fall on. It is extremely unfortunate to know that neither will get an opportunity to prove themselves in this year's Playoff.

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