Week 13 of the college football season proved once again that there is no such thing as an easy win at this level.
Ole Miss came into the week with an outside shot at the College Football Playoff despite having two losses, but a blowout defeat at the hands of Arkansas ended those chances. Meanwhile, teams like Florida State and Ohio State had tougher challenges than expected despite facing inferior opponents.
With most teams having just one or two games remaining, the pressure is on to avoid losses and finish as high in the rankings as possible.
Here is a look at the latest polls before the College Football Playoff rankings are released for Week 14.
One of the most surprising changes to the rankings was Baylor moving ahead of TCU in the AP poll. This has been a major debate among college football fans for the past month, and it will remain so until season’s end.
The argument is whether the Bears’ head-to-head win over the Horned Frogs is important enough to overcome an inferior overall resume. Clay Travis of Fox Sports 1 certainly believes Baylor should be ahead in the polls:
I’d have 5. Baylor 6. TCU 7. Ohio State Still have no idea how TCU is above Baylor.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) November 19, 2014
The biggest difference between the two is the nonconference schedule, which features a TCU win over Minnesota while Baylor did not face anyone from a major conference. However, it is hard to say that a win over the Gophers is bigger than a win over TCU itself.
These teams are reversed in the coaches poll, but really the only thing that matters is what the committee believes.
Of course, one other issue with the argument of nonconference schedules is that Mississippi State remains in one of the top spots despite also having a weak slate of opponents outside the SEC. The Bulldogs absolutely destroyed Vanderbilt Saturday, but they still have only a few really good wins this season.
Even a win over rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl will not look as good after the Rebels lost 30-0 against Arkansas. On the other hand, a loss would certainly knock Dak Prescott and company out of the College Football Playoff discussion, so they better come prepared for the in-state battle.
Rivalry games will continue to be a theme in the upcoming week, as other top squads will be forced to survive against teams that hate them.
Alabama will have arguably the hardest game at home against Auburn, but do not count out upsets from teams like Michigan (at Ohio State), Florida (at Florida State) or Oregon State (vs. Oregon).
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knows his team will be in for a tough test. When asked about whether Michigan’s struggles will be an issue, he explained at his press conference, via Ari Wasserman of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:
No, because you watch videotape and talent’s—they’re going to give us everything they got and what they’ve got is a lot. So no. These players, motivation won’t be an issue. Expectation of facing a very talented team or facing a top 10 defense in the country and for the two days now we’ve been pounding, watching it, they’re really good. So there’s no issue. Very athletic and talented on special teams too.
All of these squads are hoping to earn a playoff spot, and that certainly will not happen with another loss. This will make teams like the Gators and Wolverines, who aren’t even popular among their own fans right now, the most cheered for teams in the nation.
Anything that can give your own team an extra boost heading toward the end of the season would be greatly appreciated.
If all of the favorites do end up winning, though, it will lead to some major question marks for the playoff committee.
Can an early-season loss by Ohio State with a freshman quarterback under center be ignored? Is a loss to a good team more important than a win over a good team? Does the SEC need to have multiple teams in the playoff?
No matter what you believe, at least there will be teams deciding a champion on the field instead of in the computers, creating an exciting conclusion to the college football season.
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