Playoff Poll Watch: Week Seven

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By Ben Sieck

Well, we made it. The rankings are in, and this time they’re final.

Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State are headed to the inaugural college football playoff.

Baylor and TCU are left in the cold.

The committee got it wrong.

Baylor, not Ohio State, should be headed for the playoff.

The Bears (11-1) won the Big 12, the top college football conference in the nation according to ESPN’s power rankings. Their lone loss came to a very dangerous West Virginia team. They also beat fellow contender TCU.

Ohio State (12-1) won the Big Ten, the No. 4 conference in ESPN’s power rankings. Their loss came to a bad-to-average Virginia Tech team.

TCU (11-1) was ranked No. 3 last week, beat Iowa State as bad as you can beat a football team, and somehow dropped to No. 6. What changed in those five days that made TCU worse than Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor?

That might be the biggest question facing the committee.

I would be fine with Baylor leapfrogging into the playoff because of their win over TCU, but Ohio State feels like a cop out.

They may have annihilated Wisconsin, but Wisconsin built its reputation on beating lesser Big Ten teams. Ohio State and the Big Ten are overrated, and I think that will show in the bowl season.

However, none of those three teams can ultimately say they were robbed. That’s something reserved for 2004 Auburn or 2010 TCU. All of those teams lost at least once. As soon as you do that, you take the decision out of your hands and put it in the hands of the committee.

To TCU and Baylor fans: I’m sorry, there’s always next year.

But for college football fans outside of the state of Texas, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

Playoff Poll Watch: Week Five

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By Ben Sieck

I would not want to be a Baylor Bears fan right now.

Your team beat the No. 3 team in the nation, and you have an identical record, yet somehow the Bears are ranked sixth.

If that is not enough, your conference just changed the rules midseason to allow the team you beat the chance to be co-champs of the Big 12.

No wonder they hired a public relations firm. The college football world seems to be conspiring against their playoff chances.

For the Bears to get in, they need to beat No. 9 Kansas State, and hope two of Alabama, Oregon, TCU, Florida State and Ohio State lose this weekend.

This is not quite as dire as 2004 Auburn, but that’s brutal nonetheless.

The good news is, the way this season has gone, that scenario might very well happen.

The other big news of the night was Florida State, the lone unbeaten team in college football, dropped down to No. 4 in the committee rankings.

If the Seminoles beat No. 11 Georgia Tech, they’ll get in, but I love the committee’s approach. This might be the most underwhelming 12-0 season ever — Florida State should get their shot if they go 13-0 — but they shouldn’t get any favors for barely escaping defeat every week.

Playoff Poll Watch: Week Four

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By Ben Sieck

It’s late November and Alabama is back atop the College Football Playoff rankings. Did you expect anything less?

Alabama replaces Mississippi State as No. 1 in the nation after the Crimson Tide rolled through the Bulldogs last Saturday.

Oregon comes in at No. 2, and Florida State, the last unbeaten Power 5 team, ranks third.

Cries of Florida State fans screaming #SECBias can be heard throughout the Internet, but their schedule remains a farce. The Seminoles have struggled against mediocre opponents, and despite winning all their games, aren’t worthy of the No. 1 spot.

Looking further down the list, Mississippi State edging out TCU for the final spot is an interesting development. The Bulldogs appear to be in control of their own destiny. Win out and they’re in.

Ohio State coming it a No. 6 would be hilarious if it there wasn’t a possibility of the Buckeyes sneaking in.

Virginia Tech beat this team by 14 points. Yes, the worst team in the ACC Coastal beat the pride of the Big Ten by TWO TOUCHDOWNS. Yet because the Buckeyes only have one loss, they come in ahead of at least six or seven higher-quality teams.

Baylor fans have to be nervous sitting one spot behind the Buckeyes. Baylor is a legitimate title threat with a weak schedule. Ohio State is just a team with a weak schedule. Could you imagine a Bama-Ohio State matchup in the first round? Actually don’t do that to yourself, its not worth the nightmares.

Playoff Poll Watch: Week Three

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The new College Football Playoff Rankings will certainly have people #TalkinBoutTheNoles.

Undefeated Florida State dropped from the No. 2 spot to No. 3 in the latest committee rankings. One-loss Oregon takes their spot.

Florida State has faced a who’s who of college football nobodies week after week, and looked very pedestrian doing so. I’m not sure Oregon is the team deserving to leapfrog them, but I’m glad the committee had the sense to ding the Seminoles for their performance.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see TCU rewarded for a more impressive victory than Alabama. TCU’s shellacking of Kansas State was an authoritative win, while Alabama was lucky to escape Baton Rouge with a victory.

Baylor continues to rank behind TCU, despite having an identical record and the head-to-head advantage. TCU’s résumé is more impressive, but Baylor fans have a legitimate gripe.

Auburn is the highest-ranked two-loss team at No. 9, as it should be. However, placing Ohio State ahead of them is a questionable decision.

Ohio State, like Florida State, has played a no one impressive. The Michigan State win was significant, but the Spartans look more and more like a paper tiger.

However, the Buckeyes do have a blemish on their record — a home loss to Virginia Tech by two (!!) touchdowns. This is the same team that is 4-5, and 1-4 in the ACC.

The Buckeyes’ record is as much a testament to the weakness of the Big Ten, as it is to the strength of Ohio State.

Cathedral meets Decatur Central for sectional crown

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By Ben Sieck

The Cathedral Irish may have had a turbulent regular season, but they are back to their winning ways this postseason. Following two sectional blowout victories, the Irish (5-5) are preparing for another state title run.

Standing in their way are the Decatur Central Hawks (8-2). After defeating Zionsville 24-20 last week, the Hawks face the defending four-time state champs in the sectional championship.

Cathedral entered the playoffs with just a 3-5 record. However, the 5A Irish played some of the state’s top teams.

Cathedral did not play an Indiana school in class 5A during the regular season. Instead, the school played four 6A teams — all on the road — two 4A teams and two out-of-state schools.

The Irish defeated 6A Hamilton Southeastern 31-17, and fell three points short of upsetting Warren Central — the third ranked team in 6A.

Center Jared Thomas anchors the Cathedral offensive line. Thomas is a Northwestern recruit.

Cathedral head coach Rick Streiff told 247 Sports junior quarterback Max Bortenschlager has a good chance to play at the next level.

“As of right now, he has all those qualities you like to see in a good young quarterback,” he said. “I’d say he’s a guy that’s going to play Division I football down the road if everything continues to progress.”

Decatur Central is led by quarterback Tommy Stevens. Stevens is committed to play football for Indiana next season. He is a three-star recruit, and the 15th-best quarterback in the nation, according to Rivals.com.

Decatur Central head coach Justin Dixson told the Indianapolis Star the team has a lot of talent around Stevens, but he’s the driving force.

“There’s no doubt we win a lot of games because he’s our quarterback,” he said.

Stevens is protected by another college prospect, junior offensive tackle Trent Maynard. 247 Sports ranks Maynard the third best offensive lineman in Indiana.

The Hawks come into the game riding a five-game winning streak, and are ranked eighth in 5A. Cathedral is ranked seventh.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of the Whiteland-Floyd Central matchup in the regional championship.

Kickoff is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Arsenal Tech High School.

Playoff Poll Watch: Week Two

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By Ben Sieck

The College Football Playoff Committee rankings continue to be solid.

For the second straight week, there are no terrible committee miscalculations. However, the rankings are still far from perfect.

After coming in at No. 4 last week, Ole Miss slipped all the way to 11th. Of course, the Rebels lost at home on Saturday, but that loss was a 35-31 heartbreaker to the No. 3 team, Auburn.

The Rebels may have two losses, but losing a close game to a higher-ranked team should not drop them seven spots.

Ahead of the Rebels are Michigan State, Arizona State and Notre Dame, all teams who are 7-1. Ole Miss may have two losses, but their résumé is much stronger than those three teams.

Notre Dame barely beat Stanford, North Carolina and Navy; their signature “win” of their season is a loss to Florida State.

Michigan State eked by an overrated Nebraska squad and got blown out by Oregon. Other than that, they’ve beat up on the inept.

Arizona State has a better case than those two teams, but the Sun Devils were still dismantled by a wildly inconsistent UCLA squad.

Arizona State and Notre Dame play one another this weekend, so one pretender will likely fall out of the race.

Finally, Baylor a 7-1 team is ranked behind all those teams at No. 12. The Bears only loss came to West Virginia, a team that nearly knocked off Alabama and TCU, and Baylor has a win over the No. 6 team in the nation.

If the Bears take care of business against Oklahoma this weekend, ranking them outside the top ten would start to border on egregious.

Playoff Poll Watch: Week One

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By Ben Sieck

The first installment of the College Football Playoff rankings are… surprisingly accurate.

After watching the Coaches and AP Polls turn in some befuddling rankings this season, my expectations were low for the playoff committee’s first crack at it.

The committee offered a nice change of pace. Instead of reactionary rankings to the past week, the committee analyzed the entire season to this point.

Ole Miss beat Alabama in week six. But following a Rebel loss in Baton Rouge and a Tide blowout of Texas A&M, the Coaches and AP ranked Alabama ahead of Ole Miss.

The committee righted this wrong, ranking Ole Miss fourth and Alabama sixth.

If the first rankings are any indication of things to come, résumés matter more to the committee than the most recent week—as it should be.

However, no rankings are perfect. TCU ranking six spots ahead of Baylor after letting the Bears do this to them is an obvious point of contention.

Nebraska ranked at 15 is the other qualm I have. Nebraska has not beaten anyone, and its best résumé builder is a 27-22 loss at Michigan State. The Huskers may be 7-1, but Ameer Abdullah being really good at football saved them from an embarrassment at the hands of FCS McNeese State.