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College football rankings: What Oklahoma State’s loss to Baylor means for Alabama, Notre Dame and more



College football chaos is alive and well during conference championship weekend.

No. 5 Oklahoma State was the first big victim of said chaos on Saturday, losing 21-16 to No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 championship game — the last remaining team between the Cowboys and their first ever College Football Playoff berth.

MORE: 10 College Football Playoff scenarios, from chalk to complete two-loss chaos

The loss has to be devastating for Mike Gundy and Co., considering it came a week after the Cowboys beat rival Oklahoma for the first time since 2014. It’s even worse considering they gave up zero second-half points. The Cowboys remained in contention all the way to the very end after Baylor missed two field goals in the second half, but a fourth-and-goal stop from the 1-yard line on their final offensive play sealed the Baylor victory:

The Cowboys will also look at their turnover woes: They committed four in the second half alone, including two interceptions, a lost fumble and a turnover on downs to end the game. Perhaps the worst part of Saturday’s loss is that they were unable to get the victory against redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Shapen — making just his second ever start for the Bears. He completed 23 of 28 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns.

Oklahoma State’s loss means it is no longer in contention for the playoff. But where the Cowboys lose, other teams stand to gain. Here’s what it means for the other playoff-eligible teams on championship weekend:

Rankings reflect Week 14 College Football Playoff top 25

MORE: Notre Dame CFP scenarios: Can Fighting Irish make playoff with Cincinnati loss?

Georgia (12-1)

Previous rank: 1

What appeared to be an insignificant game for the Bulldogs turned out to be a blessing. Georgia lost a stunner to No. 3 Alabama but, with the Cowboys’ loss, Georgia won’t have to compare itself to an additional one-loss Power 5 conference champion. The Bulldogs were considered a lock for the playoff even with a loss on Saturday, but it sure helps to have the Cowboys out of their hair. The question now is whether they fall to No. 3 or 4.

Michigan (11-1)

Previous rank: 2

The Wolverines are still in win-and-in mode as far as the playoff is concerned. So long as Jim Harbaugh and Co. beat the Hawkeyes in Lucas Oil Stadium, then Michigan will become the No. 2 seed in the playoff. A loss almost certainly negates any chance the Wolverines would have of making the playoff, though it is perhaps worth asking whether a win by Georgia in the SEC championship and a loss by Cincinnati in the AAC championship would open a path for Michigan to the playoff, even if it loses to the Hawkeyes on Saturday. The Hawkeyes are ranked 13th in the latest CFP polls, so that might be too big a jump for them to participate in the playoff, even with a conference championship victory over 11-win Michigan.

Alabama (12-1)

Previous rank: 3

Turns out that Oklahoma State’s loss has no bearing on Alabama at all, considering the Crimson Tide beat top-ranked Georgia in the SEC championship game. With that win, Alabama claims the No. 1 spot in the country, leaping the Wolverines regardless of the Big Ten championship game outcome.

Cincinnati (12-0)

Previous rank: 4

The Bearcats took care of business in the AAC championship, beating 11-1 Houston 35-20. That victory — coupled with Oklahoma State’s loss behind it — should guarantee Cincinnati an entrant to the playoff as the only undefeated team remaining in the FBS.

MORE: Who is Blake Shapen? Baylor freshman QB leads Bears to upset, Big 12 title

Notre Dame (11-1)

Previous rank: 6

The Fighting Irish had to be leaping for joy after Baylor’s victory in the Big 12 championship. They knew the selection committee has never accepted a two-loss team, even those that have won their conference championship game. Moreover, ESPN’s Heather Dinich on Saturday reported that the CFP selection committee has determined Brian Kelly’s absence from the team — he is now LSU’s head coach — would have no bearing on how the committee ranks the Fighting Irish.

Here’s the problem: The Fighting Irish needed Georgia to beat Alabama to remove a team from the current top four. With the Crimson Tide’s victory in the SEC title game, both the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide should make it. Cincinnati’s a lock. The last chance Notre Dame has of making it is a Michigan loss in the Big Ten title game.

Baylor (11-2)

Previous rank: 9

The Bears likewise needed an Alabama loss in order to jump the five spots necessary to make the playoff. The Crimson Tide’s victory likely ends any chance the Bears have of making the playoff. With that, look for them to climb no higher than one of the first two teams out.

Iowa (10-2)

Previous rank: 13

Iowa is in a similar boat as Baylor — assuming the Hawkeyes pull off what the Bears were able to in AT&T Stadium. The Hawkeyes have too big a jump to make, even with a win on Saturday. Even a win over the second-ranked Wolverines won’t be enough with Alabama and Georgia both likely remaining in the top four.

Oklahoma State (11-2)

Previous rank: 5

Oklahoma State’s playoff chances are gone. Because the Cowboys were a victim of chaos on Saturday, there’s no way they can benefit from any other losses by Michigan, Alabama or Cincinnati. The question is where the Cowboys fall from here. They’ll likely remain inside the top 10 — perhaps switching places with the ninth-ranked Bears — and in contention for a New Year’s Day 6 bowl game. If Baylor somehow makes the playoff, then Oklahoma State would look at a potential Sugar Bowl berth. If Baylor was left out, however, then the Bears would likely get the Sugar Bowl berth while the Cowboys head to, perhaps, the Fiesta Bowl. Not a bad way to end the season, but still short of expectations for Gundy and Co.




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