Sunday, December 7, 2014

And now ... Ohio State

Sooo. Guess style points do matter.

This upon the just-breaking news that Ohio State has officially crashed the first College Football Playoff party, apparently on the strength of its 59-0 demolition of Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. If a decorative fruit basket is not on its way from Columbus to Madison, Wis., ("Thanks for lying down, guys!"), it ought to be.

(And here we pause briefly for the obligatory Conspiracy Moment. The scene: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's office. The characters: Delany and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez. Fade in on Delany saying, "OK, here's the deal. The only way we get into the playoff is if Ohio State absolutely wrecks your ass. So, for the good of the conference, we're asking you to take a dive. We'll make it worth your while." At which point one of Delany's flunkies enters the room, toting a suitcase full of cash).

In any case ... it's Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State. And howls of outrage from Fort Worth, Texas, where TCU is no doubt feeling very much like the victim of a mugging. One minute it's riding securely in the No. 3 spot and feeling pretty good about staying there after clouting Iowa State 55-3; the next, it's coming to in the gutter with its wallet gone and its No. 3 ranking having magically turned into No. 6. Wha--?

It is a curious turn of events in a situation where no matter the committee did, there were going to be questions. On the one hand, how do you keep out an Ohio State team that's shown such dominance against ranked opponents? And on the other hand, how do you suddenly jump them into the mix after not doing so previously?

After all, the body of work didn't really change with what happened last night. But now suddenly it's good enough, when it wasn't before?

And as for TCU ... the Horned Frogs have to wondering how a 55-3 victory gets them dropped three places. And the answer likely doesn't have as much to do with them as it does with the Big 12, which doesn't have a conference championship game. That means TCU shared the title with Baylor rather than either school winning it outright. Had that happened -- had Baylor and TCU played again -- the winner likely would have made the show, and Ohio State would have been on the outside looking in.

So the Buckeyes have the Big 12's lack of a conference title game to thank in addition to the Badgers not showing up. And proponents of said title games finally have a comeback for those of us who think  conference title games are nothing but a crass money grab.

Because this time, wonder of wonders, they actually did matter.

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