The first season of the college football playoff has brought just as much controversy as the BCS system. The biggest issue is that TCU is no. 3 and Baylor is no. 6 in the playoff and if the season ended today TCU would go to the playoffs even though Baylor beat TCU head-to-head.
But to say that Baylor should be in the playoff over TCU is overlyslimplistic and completely ignores the purpose of the playoff selection committee.
Plain and simple, the committee has nailed this one as TCU has been the better team all season and they are the better team right now.
Consider the following. Here is the evidence for Baylor:
- They beat TCU head-to-head, 61-58, thanks to having the game at home, having the ball last in a game where both teams scored at will, and thanks to a controversial pass interference call that set up the last-second, game-winning field goal. Still, a win is a win and Baylor beat TCU.
Here is the evidence for TCU:
- The two teams have played 7 common opponents. TCU is 7-0 in those games winning by an average of 27.3 points. Baylor is 6-1 in those games winning by an average of 22.1 points, including a 14-point loss to West Virginia. In addition, TCU played 4 of those games on the road, while Baylor played 4 of those common opponents at home.
- TCU’s non-conference schedule included a 30-7 win over Minnesota. They are not a powerhouse, but Minnesota is an 8-4 team in one of the Power-5 conferences. Baylor did not play any non-conference games against other Power-5 conference schools.
- TCU’s strength of schedule is 45th in the country. Baylor’s is 64th.
- TCU is third in the country in Sports-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS), which measures how a team has dominated their opponents based on their strength of schedule. Baylor is tied for sixth in SRS.
- TCU would be ranked 4th in the old BCS system, easily ahead of Baylor at 6th. TCU has an average ranking of 4.1 in the 6 computer rankings that were used by the BCS while Baylor’s average ranking is 7.5.
Nobody is discounting Baylor’s win over TCU. That is a huge factor in favour of Baylor.
But more importantly, to use the head-to-head as the only criteria is to completely ignore the mountain of evidence in favour of TCU as if the other 20 games played by the two teams don’t matter at all.
It is the committee’s job to pick the four best teams, not the team that was 3-points better in one game at home in the middle of the season.
That’s why TCU will be in and Baylor will be on the outside.
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