The Bowl Selection Day Open Thread posts at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday. Catch the specials on Fox and ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.
If I were to write this post from an SEC fan's perspective alone, it would be a full-fledged campaign pitch for Texas to play in Pasadena next month. I said it to someone and so I'll make it public: If that Texas team defeats Alabama, I will sing "Texas Fight" on the season-ending edition of Team Speed Kills Now. The easiest way to bring another crystal football to the SEC is to allow Texas into the national championship game. They haven't played the second-best football in the country and don't deserve to play in Pasadena. TCU does.
I am writing this under no delusions. I know that it's unlikely that anyone with any power will read this or change their vote because of it. But I have to do it anyway in the hopes that maybe, somehow it will reach the ears of someone in power. Because to be an intellectually honest opponent of a playoff, I have to push for as fair a settlement of the season as I can. And it will be a travesty if Texas plays ahead of TCU because they've been ranked higher than TCU.
If you need actual evidence, just look at the teams' resumes and not where they are ranked here or there in whatever poll. I've tried to arrange by difficulty and margin of victory all the FBS opponents for each undefeated team other than Alabama.
I think it's pretty easy to see that Boise State isn't even in the conversation here, so put them on the ballot at No. 5 or No. 6, depending on where you're going to place Florida. Now, let's look carefully at each team's schedule. Texas has a couple of good wins, as do TCU and Cincinnati. Beyond the first two games for each team, though, things get more complicated. Is defeating Clemson by four any worse than defeating Texas Tech by 10? Virginia by 16 or Nebraska by one? Oklahoma or Air Force by three? Texas A&M by 10 or SMU by 25? Or do those wins overall compare to South Florida by 17, Pittsburgh by one, West Virginia by three, Connecticut by two and Fresno by eight?
You can make a case that Texas should be No. 4 at the end of the week, with TCU at No. 2 and Cincinnati at No. 3. The Frogs have annihilated every team that they should have and faced tough game only against Clemson and Air Force, one an ACC division champion and the other a decent bowl-eligible team. Texas was in games against Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and, early on, Colorado.
And the scores don't tell the entire story on their own. Remember that the Oklahoma team that Texas defeated by three lost to the BYU team that TCU waxed by 31. Realize that Nebraska gained 106 yards and failed to score a touchdown, and yet Texas needed a late rally that included a kickoff out of bounds by Nebraska; a horse-collar penalty against Nebraska; and a review that put one second back on the clock and allowed Texas to kick the game winning field goal. That's your national championship contender?
To take that into account, let's look at things one more way. Below, I've taken the Sagarin score for a team's strength of schedule and multiplied it by the difference between the team's total offense and total defense
Clearly, TCU is better than Texas when you look at the results on the field. Cincinnati looks to be better on offense but not quite as good on defense. But don't forget that the Bearcats have defeated more ranked teams (three) than Texas or TCU (two each) or Boise (one).
When you take all of that into account, I don't think you have to cynically arrange the teams on your ballot to overrule the computers. Just do the right thing. Vote No. 2 TCU, No. 3 Cincinnati and No. 4 Texas.
And let's have a real national championship game between the best two teams in the country.