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Dec 6, 2014 9:29 PM

Alabama leaves no doubt; TCU left to hope

The Associated Press

WACO, Texas (AP) Alabama is in. So is Oregon. That we know for sure about the College Football Playoff after the top two teams in the selection committee rankings romped in their conference championship games.

TCU? Maybe. The Horned Frogs were third last week and certainly did nothing to hurt that on Championship Saturday. But it's not just about the Frogs.

Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State still have to make final arguments. How that goes will determine how difficult it will be for the committee to come up with a final four and how much bickering there will be Sunday after the field for the first playoff is revealed.

The Crimson Tide followed the Ducks' lead on Saturday in Atlanta, walloping Missouri 42-13 to win the Southeastern Conference championship. Oregon beat Arizona 51-13 to win the Pac-12 championship Friday night.

No need to worry SEC fans. The conference that dominated the BCS era will be represented in the playoff. Maybe underrepresented in the minds of many in the Deep South, but that's another debate.

Both the Tide and Ducks made a case to be No. 1, but it might not matter much. Expect Alabama to be in the semifinal held at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and Oregon to be at the one held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Who they'll play is still up in the air.

TCU has stated its case.

The Horned Frogs (11-1) were the first of the contenders to take the field on Saturday and the only one not facing another ranked team. The Frogs did what was expected to Iowa State, burying the Big 12's worst team 55-3. The Horned Frogs earned a share of the conference title, celebrated the accomplishment at home with their fans, but couldn't feel totally comfortable that they were in the playoff.

The committee has said it would start with a clean slate when it ranks teams each week. Could it really demote the Frogs this late in the game?

"You just go to have patience," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "The committee's made of a lot of good people. You just kind of watch and see how it goes."

Patterson and the Frogs will be keeping a keen eye on Big 12 rival Baylor and Ohio State, both lurking and playing big games Saturday night.

The Buckeyes (11-1) were fifth in the playoff ranking heading into the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin.

The Bears (10-1) were sixth with a chance to be co-champions of the Big 12 by beating Kansas State in sold-out McLane Stadium.

Yes, co-champions, but with a victory against TCU back in October. That 61-58 comeback victory in Waco hasn't been enough to convince the committee that the Bears are better than the Frogs nor is it being used as a tiebreaker in the Big 12. The conference that touted its "One True Champion" at the beginning of the season was set to give out multiple championship trophies on Saturday.

The 12-member selection committee will get to figure it out.

As committee chairman Jeff Long has said, the resumes between TCU and Baylor haven't been close enough for the head-to-head to come into play. But by the time Saturday night is over the Bears and Frogs will have played 10 common opponents. The only real difference will be that Baylor played Buffalo and TCU played Minnesota.

Then there is Ohio State, playing its biggest game of the season with a third-string quarterback.

As for Florida State (12-0), the undefeated defending national champions have done nothing but win and fall in the rankings. The Seminoles were fourth heading into the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Georgia Tech.

Against a quality opponent, just winning might be enough for Florida State to lock up a spot in the final four.

The first playoff has only increased the intensity of the debate about who is best in college football. Fans have complained of SEC bias and wondered what exactly is game control?

Patterson said he wouldn't politick for his team. "I think the way we played and how we do things really speaks for itself," he said.

But when asked if the Frogs belong, he didn't hesitate: "Yes. Why wouldn't I think that?"


Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP


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