I am as confused as ever about the protocol used by the College Football Playoff committee, thanks to some strange decisions in Tuesday’s ranking. But again, it is the “what” that matters, not the “why.”
And the “what”Tuesday night was very helpful for Oklahoma.
The Sooners checked in at No. 7. That much was predictable since two teams previously ranked ahead of them, Oregon and Penn State, both lost last Saturday while OU held off TCU.
A much bigger surprise was Baylor’s ascension from No. 14 to No. 9 on a week it beat Texas in Waco. The Bears were dominant, but they beat a team that dropped to 6-5.
That was enough for the committee to push Baylor past Oregon and Penn State, yes, but also past three teams that won Saturday: Florida (23-6 over Missouri), Wisconsin (45-24 over Purdue) and Michigan (39-14 over Indiana).
“They had a dominant win over Texas from beginning to end,” Mullens said of the Bears, “but in addition, the wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State continue to improve as well as those teams continue to win. And their only loss was close to Oklahoma, which moved up to No. 7.”
Here’s the thing – the committee insists it starts with a “clean sheet” every week and drills down on games at hand, that it doesn’t retrace its steps and reconsider past ranking decisions. Bumping Baylor five spots for beating Texas sure seems like a reconsideration.
It seems to me that Mullens might have added: “Well, the committee realized we’ve been underrating Baylor to this point and simply wanted to correct our mistake.”
At any rate, this was all to OU’s benefit.
Oregon has fallen, but one-loss No. 6 Utah remains a potential playoff obstacle for the Sooners. (So does one-loss Alabama, if you factor in all of the ESPN programming devoted to the debate over the Crimson Tide.)
The Utes host 5-6 Colorado Saturday, then will very likely play a two-loss Oregon team outside the CFP top 10 for the Pac-12 Championship.
The Sooners play at 8-3 No. 21 Oklahoma State Saturday night, then will play a one-loss Baylor team with a good chance to remain in the top 10 as the Bears go to Jerry World for the Big 12 Championship.
Mullens would not specify differences between OU and Utah Tuesday night. Assuming they aren’t vast, and by every playoff measurable they are quite slim, the Sooners have an encouraging shot at passing the Utes if both win out simply based on the superiority of their remaining schedule.
There are other problems potentially. Among them: Georgia beating LSU in the SEC Championship... Alabama destroying Auburn at Auburn Saturday and finishing the regular season with one loss... One-loss Minnesota beating Wisconsin Saturday and then upsetting unbeaten Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship.
Then there is the matter of OU winning Bedlam and beating Baylor in the Big 12 Championship rematch. Anyone paying any attention to the Sooners puts that proposition at 55 percent at best.
Anyway, that’s all in the details. On rankings night, the details are interesting but ultimately pointless. It’s sort of like figuring out the committee’s protocol.
What matters is the end result, and Tuesday’s end result makes for a happier Thanksgiving for OU.