The Horned Frogs have earned the spot as of now according to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, but do they really deserve to play in the semifinal with a loss to Baylor on its résumé?
I was recently posed this question following the Selection Committee’s recent rankings and thought it would be a good idea to post my answer on here. Before I begin, I love Baylor and TCU but the numbers do not lie. In my opinion, rank should be based upon more than an overall record, such as strength of schedule and the way teams performed in wins and losses.
Well, let’s begin:
TCU has a better record against common opponents:
The beauty of the current Big 12 setup is that each team plays every other team, so when comparing résumés between Big 12 teams, you get plenty of chances to compare performances.
Thus far, TCU and Baylor have both played Oklahoma and West Virginia. Both teams got the best of the Sooners, but in different ways. TCU played an undefeated, full-strength Sooners squad at home and held on to a small lead late at home. Baylor played Oklahoma without its best receiver, dominating the Sooners in Norman. The Bears might have the advantage there, but the games against West Virginia may be a better comparison. Both teams had to go to Morgantown, but only TCU was able to come away with a victory on the road, winning on a last-second field goal. The Bears were held from doing much against WVU in a 41-27 loss.
TCU’s loss to Baylor is better than Baylor’s loss to West Virginia:
While Baylor has the head-to-head battle on TCU, that loss is probably the best loss on any résumé in the country. If you look at it as any random opponent and not a head-to-head matchup, TCU led for the better part of three quarters over its opponent, mostly dominating while on the road. That loss was a result of one bad quarter and came against a top 10 opponent. Baylor’s loss, regardless of what TCU did against West Virginia, came to a team that has three losses this season in a game in which Baylor never seemed to have a chance to win after halftime. If you take the head-to-head element out of it, TCU’s loss is much more understandable and forgivable than Baylor’s.
TCU has a tougher out-of-conference schedule:
The schedules for these teams match up pretty well for a side-by-side comparison. Both play a full nine-game Big 12 schedule against all the same teams. They each convincingly beat an FCS opponent, with TCU beating Samford 48-14 while Baylor beat Northwestern state 70-6. Both teams had fun beating up SMU, as TCU won in Dallas 56-0 while the Bears opened McLane Stadium with a 45-0 thrashing of the Mustangs.
The difference in schedule comes in that last game. The Horned Frogs scheduled a home-and-home with Jerry Kill’s Minnesota program that started in Fort Worth this year and heads north in 2015. TCU didn’t have much trouble in that one, shutting down the Golden Gophers in a 30-7 game in which Minnesota didn’t get on the board until the fourth quarter. The Gophers have only made that TCU win look better as the season continues by contending in the Big Ten West and compiling a 7-2 record thus far. Baylor’s answer? The Bears hit the road for a Friday night matchup with Buffalo. The MAC (Mid-American Conference) team brought its best, but fell to Baylor 63-21. The Bulls are a weak 5-6 this season and will need to win its final game to become bowl eligible. These wins just don’t compare, and rewarding Baylor for scheduling cake walks is not a good precedent for the committee to set in the first year of this system.