TCU’s loss gets Tide a last look, but Frogs should make CFP

Dec 3, 2022, 12:49 AM | Updated: Dec 4, 2022, 7:04 am
Kansas State players celebrate as TCU's Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (1) sits in the end zone with Dee...

Kansas State players celebrate as TCU's Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (1) sits in the end zone with Dee Winters (13) after Kansas State defeated TCU in overtime of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

              Utah wide receiver Money Parks (10) outruns Southern California defensive back Mekhi Blackmon (6) to score a touchdown during the second half of the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Las Vegas. Utah running back Micah Bernard is at left. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)
              TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) walks off the field after Kansas State defeated TCU in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
              Kansas State players celebrate as TCU's Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (1) sits in the end zone with Dee Winters (13) after Kansas State defeated TCU in overtime of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Alabama is going to get one last look from the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Whether the Crimson Tide deserves it is debatable, at best, but after both TCU (12-1) and Southern California (11-2) lost the committee has to at least talk about making Alabama (10-2) the first team with two losses to make the playoff.

Tide coach Nick Saban, without a game to play, spent his Saturday making a media tour and lobbying for his team.

“If we played any of those teams that are on the edge of getting in, would we be the underdogs or the favorite?” Saban said on Fox at halftime of the Big Ten championship.

The field of four will be announced Sunday.

Defending champion Georgia (13-0) will be No. 1 after the Bulldogs won the Southeastern Conference — emphatically. No debate about that.

TCU coach Sonny Dykes said he was concerned about the Horned Frogs’ playoff status, but that he had faith in the committee.

“I think we’re certainly deserving,” Dykes said.

He is right, but the top four didn’t fall gently into place on championship weekend.

No. 4 USC’s loss to Friday to No. 12 Utah in the Pac-12 championship pretty much ended the Trojans’ playoff hopes.

That was huge news for No. 5 Ohio State and coach Ryan Day.

“You’re welcome, Coach Day,” Utah’s Kyle Whittingham said.

A week after the Buckeyes (11-1) were thumped at home by No. 2 Michigan, fans in Columbus were glued to the events in Las Vegas and got the result they needed — and maybe a rematch with the Wolverines in their future.

Michigan (13-0) stomped Purdue on Saturday night on the way to a second consecutive Big Ten championship.

Championship Saturday started with the third-ranked Horned Frogs falling to No. 13 Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. As has been the case all year, it was a wild ride for the Hypnotoads. They erased an 11-point deficit in the fourth-quarter behind a heroic effort by Max Duggan before losing in overtime.

The Frogs headed to the clubhouse having beat every team they have played, with plenty of close calls and comebacks, but no conference championship.

There is precedent for unbeaten teams losing their conference title games and remaining in the top four. Georgia was No. 1 when it happened last year against Alabama and fell to No. 3.

In 2020, Notre Dame lost a rematch with Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game and went from No. 2 to No. 4.

There is no previous case to support Alabama making the playoff under these circumstances, but this system has been around for only nine years. Don’t get too hung up on previous results predicting future performance by the committee.

The Tide have their supporters.

“I am no expert but no one can convince me that @AlabamaFTBL isn’t better than these teams I have been watching despite 2 heartbreaking L’s. if rule is BEST 4 for playoffs BAMA should be in,” ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale tweeted.

So ‘Bama has that going for it.

The 13-person selection committee already made one questionable call that went Alabama’s way when it ranked the Tide sixth last week and Tennessee, which beat Alabama in October, seventh.

The committee chairman cited Alabama’s close losses compared with the Volunteers (10-2) being beat soundly in the two games they have dropped.

Alabama twice lost on the last play of the game, by three at Tennessee and by one at No. 11 LSU (9-4). The LSU result doesn’t look quite so impressive after Georgia hung a 50-30 loss on the Tigers, just because it could.

Also of note: Tennessee beat LSU 40-13.

Alabama has its share of great escapes, too. Games against Texas and Texas A&M came down to the last play. Alabama’s best victories? Probably against Mississippi State, Mississippi and Texas, all 8-4.

TCU’s resume is built mostly on the foundation of the Big 12 being a conference with no easy outs. Oddly, the Frogs’ best victory got better Saturday when they lost a rematch to Kansas State, which already was in the committee’s top 10.

The best argument for Alabama is made by advanced metrics. Coming into this weekend, ESPN’s SP+ had the Tide fourth and its FPI had Alabama second. FEI, used by Football Outsiders, had Alabama fifth.

A composite of popular computer formula rankings had Alabama third and TCU eighth. Those are the type of forward-looking metrics used by oddsmakers.

Saban is right. Put the Tide and Frogs on a neutral field and, yes, Alabama is favored by at least a touchdown.

But Alabama was favored against both Tennessee (7 1/2 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook ) and LSU (12 1/2).

The recruiting rankings also give Alabama an edge. The Tide has the second-most talented roster in college football behind Georgia if you count up the stars. TCU’s is 32nd.

But results of games have to matter or why even make Alabama play?

“How are they playing at present?” Saban said to ESPN, citing the Tide’s 3-0 finish to the season with a healthy quarterback Bryce Young.

As it is the Tide, and Ohio State for that matter, essentially benefited from failing to win their divisions and not playing at present while USC and TCU had to prove themselves one more time.

“I don’t think we should be punished for coming to the Big 12 championship game,” Dykes said.

A playoff bid should be a reward for the season. What has Alabama done on the field to earn it?


The Heisman Trophy appeared to be USC quarterback Caleb Williams’ to lose heading into the weekend.

The Trojans lost, but Williams was as impressive as ever, hobbling through most of the Pac-12 championship game after straining his hamstring. He passed for 363 yards, facing heavy pressure and without his usual mobility.

Still, the door was open at least a crack for Duggan, and, boy, did he bust through.

Battered and bruised, Duggan had 251 yards passing and 110 rushing. For some reason on two tries at the end zone from the 1 in OT, Dykes didn’t call Duggan’s number either time.

Williams finished the regular season with 37 touchdown passes, four interceptions, 9.1 yards per pass and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Duggan heads into the postseason with 30 touchdown passes, four picks, 9.0 yards per pass and six rushing touchdowns.

Heisman finalists will be announced Monday, but both Williams and Duggan should be booking trips for New York City for the handout next Saturday.

Right after some time in the cold tub.


Here’s how the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six bowl selections should shake out:

Peach Bowl — No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Fiesta Bowl — No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU

Rose Bowl — Utah vs. Penn State

Sugar Bowl — Kansas State vs. Alabama

Orange Bowl — Clemson vs. Tennessee

Cotton Bowl — USC vs. Tulane.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


AP college football: and Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Switzerland's Wendy Holdener speeds down the course during an alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom,...
Associated Press

Shiffrin wins slalom, moves within 1 win of World Cup record

SPINDLERUV MLYN, Czech Republic (AP) — American skier Mikaela Shiffrin dominated a slalom Saturday for her 85th career victory to move within one of the World Cup record set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in the 1980s. Shiffrin can match the best mark of 86 wins in another slalom Sunday. Shiffrin had shared the women’s […]
1 day ago
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus waves as she holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy after defeating El...
Associated Press

Sabalenka beats Rybakina for Australian Open women’s title

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The serves were big. So big. Other shots, too. The points were over quickly. So quickly: Seven of the first 13 were aces. And so it was immediately apparent in the Australian Open women’s final between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina that the one who could manage to keep her serve […]
1 day ago
Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) scores against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisa...
Associated Press

Pettersson scores twice, Canucks beat Blue Jackets 5-2

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Elias Pettersson scored twice, Bo Horvat had a career-high four assists and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Friday night for their second victory in three games under Rick Tocchet. Tocchet took over as coach after Bruce Boudreau was fired Sunday. Quinn Hughes had a goal […]
1 day ago
Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) is congratulated after scoring against the Seattle Kr...
Associated Press

Flames rebound with impressive 5-2 win over Kraken

SEATTLE (AP) — Tyler Toffoli and the Calgary Flames rebounded from one of their ugliest losses of the season and picked up an important two points in the Pacific Division before starting the All-Star break. Toffoli, Elias Lindholm and Blake Coleman each had a goal and two assists, and the Flames topped the Seattle Kraken […]
1 day ago
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Ku...
Associated Press

Curry’s 35 points send Warriors past Raptors, 129-117

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry had 35 points and 11 assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Toronto Raptors 129-117 on Friday night. The high-scoring affair was close until the Warriors pulled away with a 31-point fourth quarter, securing a sweep in the season series. “It feels like we took better care of […]
1 day ago
New Jersey Devils' Jack Hughes and Vitek Vanecek (41) celebrate after Hughes scored in overtime of ...
Associated Press

Hughes scores winner in OT to lead Devils past Stars 3-2

DALLAS (AP) — Jack Hughes scored his second goal of the game 20 seconds into overtime, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Friday night. Hughes’ winning goal skipped off the stick of Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and eluded Jake Oettinger as the Devils rallied from a 2-0 deficit […]
1 day ago
TCU’s loss gets Tide a last look, but Frogs should make CFP