Too bad the College Football Playoff is of no interest to the Russians. Secretly monitoring the CFP Selection Committee’s weekly meeting and immediately releasing the info through Wikileaks would evoke more lively debate than the drip-drip-drip sharing of the hack of dated personal E-mails.
Imagine listening to the argument that Louisville or Oklahoma deserves a spot in the committee’s top four. An advocate would try to explain why the Cardinals should be ahead of a team that beat them or justify dismissal of the Sooners’ two September losses.
How about a committee member touting West Virginia, a few weeks removed from a 17-point loss to a two-time loser. Or, another voter insisting Clemson remain No. 2 despite a loss on Saturday.
The pros and cons are offered at a resort just north of DFW Airport as the 12-member committee decides Nos. 2 through 25 — Alabama is the undisputed No. 1 — for release tonight.
Maybe proponents of a particular team can wear down the opposition with a filibuster, reading the NCAA handbook on recruiting instead of “Green Eggs and Ham” like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did a few years ago.
No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan, and No. 4 Washington put committee members in a no-win box, losing to a four-loss Pittsburgh, a four-loss Iowa, and a three-loss USC.
A shared ineptitude on offense makes each of the losers a difficult sell. Clemson managed 50 yards rushing on 25 attempts, Michigan barely totaled 200 yards, and Washington netted 17 yards on the ground. Highly regarded quarterbacks for Clemson and Washington threw five interceptions and the Wolverines turned the ball over twice.
When the committee members begin by selecting a pool of teams to be considered, who should be in the basket of so-called elite?
Ohio State, for sure, despite a loss to a Penn State that lost to Michigan by 39. And, Louisville. Despite an obituary published eight weeks ago, Oklahoma is viable. Include Clemson, which lost on a 48-yard field goal with six seconds to play, and Michigan, which went down on a 33-yard field goal as time expired.
In the pool, the SEC’s only rep is Alabama. The other league team with fewer than three losses is 7-2 Florida, which lost to Arkansas, which lost to LSU by 28. Could the Pac-12’s really be from Washington and Colorado?
Personally, the top four includes Alabama, Ohio State, Louisville, and a multi-team coin flip.
Help is on the way. This week, Oklahoma plays West Virginia and Washington State meets Colorado. Next week, Ohio State hosts Michigan and Washington vs. Washington State.
A common theme in Arkansas’ four losses is the disparity in rushing yardage between Texas A&M, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and the Razorbacks.
Saturday night, LSU’s Leonard Fournette went to the sideline in the first half with a bad ankle and sat down for good in the fourth quarter, but still managed 98 yards on 17 carries. Derrius Guice, who carried only twice in the 10-0 loss to Alabama, stepped in and racked up 252 yards on 21 carries. All told, the Tigers ran for 390 yards, which means the four teams that have beaten the Razorbacks have amassed 1,563 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Arkansas’ 1,000-yard rusher, Rawleigh Williams, gained 49 yards on 13 attempts vs. LSU. He also failed to reach 50 yards against Auburn or Alabama and had only 79 vs. A&M. The numbers are more meager for Devwah Whaley, who registered a 34-yard gain among his seven carries for 52 yards vs. LSU, but did not top 30 yards against A&M, Alabama, or Auburn.
For the four games, Williams and Whaley totaled 309 yards on 84 attempts.
The offensive line is at least partly to blame for the totals and that same group is also charged with protecting quarterback Austin Allen, who was sacked three times, threw two interceptions, and completed less than 50 percent of his 31 passes vs. LSU.
Harry King is sports columnist for GateHouse Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org