The penultimate CFP rankings were released on Tuesday night, and it went about as expected. Georgia still holds the top spot, Michigan (2) and TCU (3) each moved up a slot, while USC currently stands as the last team in the four-team college football playoff field.
Georgia and Michigan appear to be locks regardless of what happens in their conference championship games this weekend. And TCU may be a lock also. The consensus seems to be that they should be. However, there's still a contingent out there who feel that both TCU and USC must win to fend off the first two teams on the outside looking in. Those teams are Ohio State and Alabama, and they're lurking.
But the more I ponder it, the more I struggle to grasp the idea that a team can somehow be ultimately punished for advancing to their respective conference championship game. Meanwhile, Ohio State and Alabama, who both failed to reach their conference title games, can potentially benefit and backdoor their way into the playoff while sitting at home and watching this weekend's games on TV. Something doesn't seem right about that.
And it has happened before. In 2017, Wisconsin was undefeated and had advanced to the Big Ten Conference Championship. Perennial powerhouse Alabama was not in their conference championship game after losing their final game of the regular season to Auburn.
Wisconsin eventually lost in the Big Ten Championship to a top ten ranked team (Ohio State), and Alabama, who was not in the coveted top four of the CFP rankings during that conference championship weekend - ended up jumping Wisconsin for that fourth and final playoff spot.
Before that conference title game for Wisconsin, they had played 12 games and were 12-0. Alabama had also played 12 games. They were 11-1. But it was the 13th game that doomed Wisconsin. A 13th game that they earned by reaching their conference championship game. Alabama didn't have a 13th game, because they didn't get to the SEC Championship. Wisconsin would've been better off not playing that game (that's not an option, obviously). After all, Alabama didn't have to play.
TCU plays Kansas State this Saturday for the rights to the Big 12 Championship. They should be safely in regardless of the outcome. But should and will are two different things. This is a bonus game for them that they earned, and two teams behind them who sit idle outside the current playoff field and didn't earn their way into this weekend shouldn't be rewarded for sitting at home. I feel the same way about USC as I do TCU, but their situation is a little murkier because they have lost a game this season (TCU hasn't). And a second USC loss, even coming in a conference championship game, would really open the door for a one-loss Ohio State.
And for the record, I'm not a TCU fan. So I don't have a dog in the race as far as the Horned Frogs are concerned. Bu hearing people still say that 12-0 TCU must win this weekend to stay in the top four is questionable to me. At best. Almost everyone agrees that Georgia and Michigan are safely in the playoff field, even if they were to suffer losses this weekend. So why wouldn't the sentiment be the same for TCU?