Baylor has gone all out in its quest to be included in the College Football Playoff. The school hired a public relations firm, and athletic director Ian McCaw has been stumping for the Bears in national media outlets.
Did it work?
The Bears jumped one spot to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings announced Tuesday. But they weren’t the big mover.
That was TCU. The Horned Frogs jumped from fifth to No. 3, and with a game against the Big 12’s last-place team, Iowa State, remaining on the schedule, it appears TCU is in a strong position to be one of the four teams to be included in the national semifinal bracket announced Sunday.
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If TCU wins and Baylor defeats Kansas State in Waco on Saturday, the Frogs and Bears would end the season with identical records of 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the Big 12.
But Baylor beat TCU 61-58 on Oct. 11. According to playoff committee chairman Jeff Long, the head-to-head outcome is only one of the criteria being considered when measuring the teams.
“There are many things we’ve taken into account when we look at TCU and Baylor,” Long said.
Like quality of victories. TCU has five over teams that have records of .500 or better. Baylor has three, with a chance to collect a fourth Saturday.
“We believe TCU is better and deserving of that No. 3 spot over Baylor,” Long said.
The top four: Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Florida State.
The next two positions belong to Ohio State and Baylor.
The Buckeyes meet Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game without quarterback J.T. Barrett, who broke his ankle last week against Michigan. Long said Ohio State wasn’t evaluated without its starter.
“We will be very interested to watch Ohio State perform with its backup quarterback,” Long said. “The results on the field will dictate how we feel about Ohio State.”
The mystery of this week’s ranking heightened when last week’s No. 4 team, Mississippi State, lost at Mississippi.
That opened the door for another team, and TCU stepped in — and over Florida State, which was ranked third last week.
Although the Seminoles, the nation’s only undefeated team, dropped a spot from last week, Long said Florida State “was in a strong position at No. 4.”
It appears the Seminoles would have to lose to Georgia Tech in the ACC title game to not make the bracket.
Rounding out the top 10: Arizona, Michigan State, Kansas State and Mississippi State. Missouri is No. 16.
As the highest rated two-loss team, Arizona could be in a position to jump into the top four by beating Oregon in Friday’s Pac-12 championship game. The Wildcats handed the Ducks their lone regular-season loss.
The semifinal games will be played in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 and the first playoff title game is set for Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas. The committee will also arrange pairings for four other access bowls: Fiesta, Cotton, Peach and Orange.
Key games this weekend
Conference championship games
▪ PAC-12: Oregon vs. Arizona, 8 p.m. Friday in Santa Clara, Calif.
▪ SEC: Alabama vs. Missouri at 3 p.m. in Atlanta
▪ ACC: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. in Charlotte, N.C.
▪ BIG TEN: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin at 7:17 p.m. in Indianapolis
Other games that could affect the national championship
▪ Iowa State at TCU, 11 a.m.
▪ Kansas State at Baylor, 6:45 p.m.
Note: All games Saturday unless noted.