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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

December 6, 2014 at 9:36 PM

TCU, Baylor and Ohio State sweating bullets on selection eve

Well, it was a chalky weekend for the top teams vying for the first college football playoff, unlike almost all the final weekends that have come before in the BCS era. There was nothing in the way of a surprise, as first Oregon, then TCU, then Alabama won big, and in the evening, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor prevailed.

So what’s going to happen Sunday morning when the four teams are announced? The guess here is it’ll be Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Florida State in that order.

Ohio State made an unbelievably emphatic statement in trouncing Wisconsin, 59-0. So the committee is going to be weighing the two Big 12 heavyweights against the Buckeyes. While the hot debate down the stretch has been TCU versus Baylor and why the 61-58 Baylor win over TCU doesn’t have the Bears in the top four while TCU is, I could see the committee simply sidestepping that mess and naming the Buckeyes.

One more thought out of leftfield — is Florida State safe, even as it’s undefeated? Yes, the Seminoles have been amazingly resilient, answering every challenge to remain the only team to stay unblemished. But even as they’ve done that, they’ve dropped in the committee rankings and were No. 4 this week. They survived a tough challenge from No. 11 Georgia Tech, and there’s no shame in that, but if you acknowledge that the committee has looked at FSU sort of skeptically, it’s possible it might continue doing that. In the final analysis, though, a point that Kirk Herbstreit made Saturday night is worth entertaining: The Seminoles’ scheduling intent out of conference — with Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Florida — is far more ambitious than anybody else in this debate, and that’s got to count for something, probably a playoff spot.

And what will happen to Arizona, which was treated rudely by Oregon, 51-13? The No. 7 Wildcats, remember, must stay in the top 12 if they’re to be part of the New Year’s Six bowls (and likely play in the Fiesta if they are). I think they’re going to survive, probably falling to No. 11 or 12. Wisconsin was No. 13, and obviously will drop. The next two are 9-3 Georgia and UCLA (14-15) and I don’t see the Wildcats dropping into that echelon. Could happen, of course, but a 10-3 season in a rugged conference has to count for something. That’s a key issue for the rest of the Pac-12, because that berth means $4 million to the league members, and the eight Pac-12 bowl-eligible teams all would have a home among the league’s contracted bowls if Arizona stays in the top 12.

 

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