TCU-Baylor rematch: The Texas Pride Scenario in CFP – Fort Worth Star Telegram

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A fresh round of upsets, near-upsets and dominant performances on Separation Saturday will make Tuesday’s release of the updated College Football Playoff rankings the best half-hour of reality TV this week.

Many questions persist: Is No. 6 TCU a projected playoff team now, thanks to its 41-20 thumping of No. 7 Kansas State? Will selection committee members reward No. 12 Baylor for its 48-14 throttling of No. 15 Oklahoma in a comparable fashion to Associated Press poll voters?

The Bears (8-1, 5-1 Big 12), who control their destiny in the race to win a Big 12 championship, climbed four spots in Sunday’s updated AP poll. Baylor placed sixth in balloting by AP voters, one spot behind TCU (8-1, 5-1), and made the most notable Sunday move of any top-10 team.

Baylor’s 45-0 closing surge against Oklahoma, on the road, marked Saturday’s most impressive outing by a playoff hopeful facing a quality opponent. It will boost the Bears’ playoff hopes.

But no one will know how much until Tuesday, when selection committee members offer their latest round of rankings. After Saturday’s results, which included eight losses by schools in the CFP rankings, only 10 teams from Power 5 conferences have one or zero losses.

The top nine of those teams comprise your realistic playoff pool: No. 1 Mississippi State (9-0), No. 2 Florida State (9-0), No. 4 Oregon (9-1), No. 5 Alabama (8-1). No. 6 TCU (8-1), No. 9 Arizona State (8-1), No. 12 Baylor (8-1), No. 13 Nebraska (8-1) and No. 14 Ohio State (8-1).

Anyone else, at this juncture, needs so much help from unlikely sources to make the four-team playoff bracket that a discussion of their chances would be a waste of space. Several crazy scenarios could unfold before the playoff field is set Dec. 7. Here’s a handful worth discussing:

•  Texas Pride Scenario: The two undefeated teams win out, securing the top seeds for Mississippi State and Florida State. Oregon loses in the Pac-12 championship game. TCU and Baylor win out, finishing with 11-1 records and sharing the Big 12 title. That could give us these first-round playoff pairings: Mississippi State-Baylor and Florida State-TCU. Taken a step farther, victories by the Horned Frogs and Bears would give us a TCU-Baylor title game Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

•  Big 12 Nightmare Scenario: TCU loses its Nov. 27 game at Texas (5-5). No. 7 Kansas State (7-2) rebounds from a Nov. 20 loss at West Virginia (6-4) to knock off Baylor on Dec. 6 in Waco. No other upsets occur. That means TCU, Baylor and K-State would share the Big 12 title, all with two losses in league play … one too many losses, in all likelihood, for any of the three to land a spot in the CFP playoff.

•  SEC Overload Scenario: No. 5 Alabama (8-1) hands No. 1 Mississippi State (9-0) its first loss when the teams meet Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The victory gives the Crimson Tide the tiebreaker to represent the SEC West in the conference championship game, where Alabama claims the title. Mississippi State finishes 11-1 and joins Alabama, the SEC champion, in the four-team playoff bracket.

•  Armageddon Scenario: It would require some upsets, but there is a way that all nine teams in our realistic playoff pool could bring two losses to the table for CFP committee deliberations on Dec. 7. And it’s not that far-fetched.

Here’s how:

No. 1 Mississippi State loses road games against No. 5 Alabama (Saturday) and No. 11 Ole Miss (Nov. 29). No. 2 Florida State loses to in-state rivals Miami (Saturday) and Florida (Nov. 29).

No. 4 Oregon falls in the Pac-12 championship game to No. 7 Arizona State, one week after the Sun Devils close the regular season with a loss at No. 19 Arizona (Nov. 28).

Elsewhere, Alabama falls to No. 3 Auburn (Nov. 29), No. 6 TCU loses to Texas (Nov. 27), K-State knocks off No. 12 Baylor (Dec. 6) and No. 13 Nebraska (8-1) loses Saturday at Wisconsin before rebounding to take down No. 14 Ohio State (8-1) in the Big Ten championship game.

What happens if all of that craziness unfolds? Eventually, somebody might have to notice Marshall (9-0), the only undefeated FBS team that has yet to surface in the CFP rankings this season.


14: Consecutive home victories by No. 3 Auburn before falling to Texas A&M 41-38 in Saturday’s matchup in Auburn, Ala. The Aggies (7-3) broke South Carolina’s 18-game home winning streak in their season opener.


Big 12 playoff hopes: No. 6 TCU (8-1) and No. 12 Baylor (8-1) are poised to climb in Tuesday’s CFP rankings after lopsided victories over fellow Top 25 teams on a Saturday when four top-10 teams lost.


Kenny Hill’s playing time: Texas A&M’s starting quarterback for the first eight games returns this week from a two-game suspension for violation of team rules. But the Southlake Carroll graduate should expect to watch Saturday from the sideline after freshman Kyle Allen’s performance (227 passing yards, 4 TDs) in a 41-38 upset of No. 3 Auburn.




No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama: Top-ranked team gets its biggest road test of the regular season against the Crimson Tide.

No. 2 Florida State at Miami: Undefeated FSU has looked wobbly for weeks. Miami is improving, rested and ready after last week’s open date.

No. 14 Ohio State at Minnesota: Both teams lead their Big Ten divisions and Minnesota’s performance will impact TCU’s schedule strength. Horned Frogs pounded Gophers 30-7 in September.


Here’s a projected playoff bracket, based on games played thus far and Tuesday’s anticipated rankings (including playoff seeds):

Semifinal: Mississippi State (No. 1) vs. Alabama (No. 4)

Semifinal: Florida State (No. 2) vs. Oregon (No. 3)


Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

TCU-Baylor rematch: The Texas Pride Scenario in CFP – Fort Worth Star Telegram