By Ryan Decker
For only the third time in West Virginia University football history Morgantown will be the site of a matchup between two AP Top-25 teams when No. 8 Oklahoma (8-2) takes on the tenth-ranked West Virginia (8-1).
Despite the game, which is being televised under national spotlight on ABC at 8 p.m. and having major ramifications in terms of the Big 12 title hunt, and despite all the chaos that transpired last week, this weekend’s game will have no impact on the national title hunt.
None. Nada. No impact at all.
That’s not me being anti-Big 12. That’s being as realistic as can be.
Oklahoma, sitting with two losses, can’t afford to lose. A third loss would for sure knock the Sooners out of any bleak chance of playing in the playoffs.
West Virginia, whose lone loss came on the road against Oklahoma St., which is currently ranked thirteenth in the CFP rankings, can’t afford to take the loss either. Even though the Sooners are the higher seed, the game is in Morgantown, at night, on national TV. The committee will be watching.
At least you think they would, even though given the current rankings the committee has certainly made it appear that the Big 12 will be the conference that gets left out of the four-team playoff.
That’s even with all the chaos that happed last Saturday.
Let’s review what happened last week.
Five Top 10 teams – (2) Clemson, (3) Michigan, (4) Washington, (8) Texas A&M, and (9) Auburn – suffered losses. Four of the five teams lost to unranked opponents, with three of the five losing at home.
For Texas A&M and Auburn, it was their third losses of the season.
The bad losses didn’t seem to matter in the poll that matters – the College Football Playoff rankings. Michigan remained at No. 3, Clemson fell just two spots to No. 4, and Washington also fell just two spots.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s dominant win over Baylor only raised the Sooners two spots in the rankings, and WVU’s win on the road against Texas only bumped the Mountaineers up two spots from No. 16 to No. 14.
Including Oklahoma, seven teams are ranked above West Virginia that have at least two losses, including three-loss USC.
WVU fans are wondering the same thing Mr. Trotter.
And, if WVU continues to win this season, Mountaineer fans will likely continue to wonder how their team is seemingly ranked so low.
The answer is in the rankings though.
The committee, at least this year, doesn’t value the Big 12 as highly as the other conferences, despite it’s three teams ranked inside the Top 15 in the CFP rankings.
Those sound like countering statements but take a look at the rest of the rankings.
Four Big Ten teams are slotted inside the Top 8 spots. Clemson and Louisville are the marquee ACC representatives atop the rankings. Washington leads the four representatives from the Pac-12 ahead of the Mountaineers.
Undefeated Alabama is joined just by Auburn from the SEC in the Top 15, but until last week the Aggies were also a top-ranked team despite its record and inconsistent play.
Even though Trotter spelled out the Big 12’s chances of having a representative in the College Football Playoffs on Tuesday, the chances are so small, and the teams need so much help from outside the conference, they’re barely worth mentioning.
That’s why, as much as Oklahoma and West Virginia fans won’t want to hear it or admit it, Saturday’s game lacks a true national meaning when looking at the playoffs realistically.