TCU-Baylor: A good test of “more of the same” or “better” for the college football playoff committee

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The most important game in college football isn’t in Starkville, Miss. this weekend. It’s in Waco, Texas.*

I’ll just leave that there, and you can place your outrage right next to the latest Katy Perry album, because it’s easier to group things together that I care nothing about.

The asterisk is more about the caveat that the sentence possibly speaks more for the last 14 years of college football than the one we’re in right now, because we don’t rightly have any stinking clue as to what the CFB Playoff committee is thinking at this point in the season.

I’m more talking about the hype, and the hope that just as many eyes will be on Waco when Baylor and TCU rumble than it feels as though there will be.

One thing we need to get over is “name value” in college football, where teams have ranking floors or ceilings after big wins based on what their name is.

Would unbeaten USC be barely in the top 10 had it gone into Autzen Stadium and punked Oregon?

Would Texas be on the outside of the top 10 and having people scoff if they were unbeaten coming off a home-field win over Oklahoma?

This is one of the truly defining issues that will determine how successful the CFB Playoff proves to be, and whether or not it’s just another extension of the BCS with more teams and fewer people choosing. If you’re good, you’re good, no matter what type of traditional pedigree you have. Will this idea be recognized by the 13 people whose views matter the most?

Alabama hasn’t beaten a ranked team in over a year and is 0-3 against such opponents in its last three tilts (Auburn, Oklahoma, Ole Miss). Why are the Tide still in the top seven in both polls? Will the CFB Committee cut through the bull, or will it be more of the same?

Currently in the Coaches Poll, Oklahoma is ahead of TCU. If only … you know … they could play one another so we could know which one might be better at this point in the season …

These are the issues that have plagued the BCS: wins only mean a certain amount based on name value; name value gives teams a designated floor on how far they can fall. Look, it gets nit-picky near the bottom of the polls, but why is Missouri ranked?

We know the Tigers have lost at home to a very mediocre Indiana team and a win over punchless South Carolina looks more empty by the day.

Which is what hopefully makes Baylor-TCU every bit as important as the more ballyhooed Mississippi State-Auburn tilt this weekend.

Baylor suddenly looks semi-elite on defense. Can Trevone Boykin do to that defense what he did to Oklahoma’s, racking up nearly 400 yards of offense? Baylor’s traditionally stout offense struggled by its standards last week. Can TCU get the turnovers it got against Oklahoma to ice the Bears too?

Is this a playoff elimination game while the SEC battle of top 10 powers is merely a reshuffling of the deck and both can get back in it? The truth should be this: neither game should be a death knell to any of the four teams. This is the problem with the CFB Playoff, but that’s another column for another time.

If the CFB Playoff committee is mindful of its job, this shouldn’t be an elimination game for any of these teams short of one getting completely obliterated, thus showing it can’t necessarily be counted on to show up on a weekly basis.

It could be perceived that this Big 12 battle in Waco isn’t getting the publicity being devoted to the SEC battle in Starkville. It could be that it doesn’t matter who gets pub, because we’ll come to learn that we need to have complete faith in the committee … because those 13 people aren’t pollsters and are doing it the right way.

There’s annoyance in not knowing.

Maybe this is more a plea to the playoff bunch sitting around with 19 televisions on at once, doing whatever it is they do to evaluate teams. This is a plea rooted in the worry that the people who watch college football have not been adequately forced to confront the immense bias attached to a school’s name. This source of bias represents a potent way in which voters have been conditioned over the years, probably more than anything else. If this specific bias — in which Texas always trumps TCU and USC always gets the benefit of the doubt while Arizona doesn’t — is allowed to persist, the advent of the playoff will have done zero.

So maybe it’s all nothing rather than everything. Either way, all eyes need to be on both games this weekend, as both are major tilts that will define who should be part of this playoff, and who should not be left out just yet.

As George Michael famously said, I suppose “you gotta have faith.”