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NCAA.com | October 20, 2014

Head to Head: No Big 12 in CFP?

  Baylor was the last of the unbeatens in the Big 12, before falling to West Virginia on Saturday.

​Head to Head debates the biggest topics in College Football. This week, Baylor lost big in West Virginia. The Bears were the last undefeated team remaining in the Big 12 conference, but have now dropped from No. 4 to No. 12 in the AP Top 25 poll. As it stands right now, TCU is the highest rated Big 12 team in the AP Poll at No. 10. Our panel debates whether or not the Horned Frogs, or any Big 12 team, will be able to make the jump into the College Football Playoff in January.

Good night, Notre Dame. Good night, Big Ten looking up at Notre Dame. Good night, Big 12, looking up at the Big Ten, looking up at Notre Dame.

Prior to the start of the season, there was plenty of debate about which Power Five conference will not be represented in the inaugural College Football Playoff. I’m sorry to say it, but there will not be just one odd man out this year. There will be two. There could have potentially been three of the Power Fives not involved in the playoff, had Notre Dame held on to knock off Florida State.

Unfortunately for those in middle America, the Southeastern Conference will have two teams in the College Football Playoff, and the Big 12 and Big Ten will be on the outside looking in. As of right now, the SEC occupies four of the top five slots in the AP Top 25. The only question is which two teams will make the cut.

One thing that makes the SEC dangerous is that a two-loss team could potentially get in ahead of a one-loss team from another conference.

Let’s take a look at those four teams in the top five: No. 1 Mississippi State has trips to Alabama and the Grove still left on their schedule. No. 3 Ole Miss has a date with Auburn and of course Mississippi State left to play. The fourth-ranked Tide have to play games against Auburn and Mississippi State and obviously Auburn’s two tough games are against Alabama and Ole Miss (don’t forget that SEC championship game one of these teams will have to play in as well).

These teams will all punch each other out, but I can still see it playing out with two left standing and I think those two left standing will be Mississippi State and Alabama. I don't trust that Bo Wallace and Ole Miss will be able to take down Auburn or Mississippi State and I am not convinced that Nick Saban would lose a second consecutive Iron Bowl.

With Florida State playing a schedule that allows for them to be on cruise control until January (but any loss for them will oust the ACC from title contention), the two SEC teams will leave only one CFP spot and it will likely go to Oregon.

All rright, I’ll admit that Notre Dame and Michigan State are not out yet, but neither is No. 9 Georgia, which just makes the two-SEC-team scenario that much more likely, and it will prove to be too big of a hurdle for TCU, No. 11 Kansas State and Baylor.

-- Gerard Gilberto, NCAA.com

It comes down to a math problem – five conferences, four spots in the College Football Playoff. Even in the most equitable year of the four-team playoff, there will be a conference left out of the party. The Big 12 won’t wear that title in 2014.

The fans and pundits in the Deep South have dreamed and screamed of two SEC teams in the final four since this whole idea sprang legs. Sure, you can make the case that four of the top teams in the nation reside in the same division of the same conference.

But what type of message would it be by the committee – and I’m not sure there is one person who envies the decision they have to make in a few weeks – if they make the CFP an SEC party in year No. 1? Those teams are going to continue to beat themselves up, that’s what happens when you have the SEC West stacked with roadblock after roadblock.

When it all shakes out, you certainly would have a three-loss team in the final four. Two losses keeps you alive, but what if TCU doesn’t lose the rest of the way? The Horned Frogs still need to face Kansas State and take a trip to terrifying Morgantown to take on West Virginia. Come out unscathed and the only blemish on the TCU ledger is a really bad final quarter at Baylor.

And even if it’s not TCU -- currently ranked No. 10 -- you have Kansas State and Baylor right behind. One year ago, Miami (Fla.) and Louisville were ranked in the top 10. They didn’t end up there when it was all said and done. So much can happen in the final eight weeks of the season.

The Big 12 has shown it’s a deep conference just as much as the Pac-12 has shown that maybe it’s not. In the end, the top of college football is a jumbled mess and on Oct. 20 or Oct. 27 or even Nov. 10, who knows which teams will be invited to the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. We can try and project all we want because that’s what makes this so much fun.

Right now, the Big 12 deserves a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff just as much as the SEC deserves two spots. We’ve got eight more weeks to shake it all up and spit it out. Enjoy it. 

-- Douglas Kroll, NCAA.com