Surprise, surprise; the Big 12 got hosed again.
It was slightly understandable last week. The Big 12 schedule was so backloaded that the conference’s four top dogs were still waiting to play each other. The lack of head-to-head matchups at that point brought down everyone’s strength of schedule a bit.
But what about now? Did anyone on the committee watch Oklahoma State dismantle a TCU team that’s 20-2 over the past two seasons? Apparently not.
Sure, the Cowboys rose six spots from last week, but that’s after beating the AP No. 5 team by 20 points. By comparison, Iowa rose four spots to No. 5 after beating unranked Indiana, which is 0-5 in the Big 10, by eight. Where’s the logic?
Oklahoma State is 9-0 and 6-0 in the Big 12. The Cowboys get universally knocked for not winning pretty, but that’s not all the way true. OSU has won six of its nine games by double digits. That’s more “pretty” wins than No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 Iowa.
The committee alleges that they want the “best four teams” for their playoff, but is pretty vague about how “best” is determined. It’s hard for the average fan or expert to determine whether one team is better than another, because everyone has their biases. The only neutral party is Las Vegas, which is in the business of making money. Vegas can’t afford to be biased.
So what do the oddsmakers think of these rankings? Well they certainly think higher of the Big 12 than does the committee. According to an expert in the business of oddsmaking, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma would both be favored to beat Iowa on a neutral field.
In fact, No. 12 Oklahoma would be either favored or a pickem on a neutral field against No. 11 Florida, No. 10 Utah, No. 9 LSU, No. 7 Stanford, No. 6 Baylor, No. 5 Iowa and No. 4 Notre Dame.
Speaking of Baylor, it’s understandable why the Bears are ahead of Oklahoma at this point. The Sooners have a loss and the Bears have won every game by an average of 2 million. But there’s no excuse to have Baylor ahead of Oklahoma State. OSU has one of the best wins of the college football season, while Baylor hasn’t played a ranked team yet. Baylor’s opponents have a combined record of 24-47, or a 33.8 winning percentage. OSU’s hasn’t been stellar, either, but 44.4 percent makes for a better resume.
Committee chairman Jeff Long’s reasoning for placing the Bears above the Cowboys is confusing. Quite frankly, he didn’t sound like he even knew.
“Oklahoma State’s had one test (TCU), and you can say that Baylor has had one test at Kansas State,” Long told ESPN’s Rusillo and Kanell radio show. “I just think as we look at the teams, we look at their play, we analyze their statistics and data, the committee voted that Baylor’s a stronger team.”
That’s right folks, Long just equated Kansas State to TCU. Not to mention, Oklahoma State ALSO beat Kansas State. So that would be TWO tests for the Cowboys, not one as Mr. Long stated.
“Well, you don’t look at them (OSU’s win over TCU and Baylor’s win over Kansas State) in isolation, one against the other,” Long said. “You look at them in terms of that full body of work or that resume they’ve built. So you’re really not comparing a home win over TCU vs a road game at Kansas State. You really don’t look at that.”
What? But you JUST compared those tests! It was the first thing out of your mouth! Which one is it?
Long befuddled many on Tuesday, but the Big 12 has even bigger problems. The committee’s top four of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame are mighty strong. There’s reason to wonder if the Big 12 has any chance to crack it.
Starting with the obvious, if Clemson wins out, the Tigers are in. Same goes for Alabama and Ohio State. So assuming those three don’t slip up, there’s only one spot left. Notre Dame has three games left and two are gimmes. The Irish will squash Wake Forest and Boston College before heading out to No. 7 Stanford for their season finale. If the Irish win those three games, knowing they’re already ahead of both Baylor and OSU, do you really expect that committee of traditionalists to drop a ratings juggernaut like Notre Dame for winning out? Especially when one of the wins would come against the No. 7 team?
And what if Stanford wins that game and then the Pac 12 title. It might not be enough to vault Baylor but the Cardinal is already ranked higher than the Cowboys, so could OSU jump them?
There’s a lot left to happen. A whole lot. But it’s clear that after leaving the Big 12 out of the dance last season, the committee’s opinion of the league hasn’t exactly skyrocketed.