While Texas A&M remained No. 5 in the second College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday, the Aggies are creating plenty of discussion in Grapevine.
Selection committee chairman Gary Barta, the athletic director at Iowa, said on ESPN’s playoff reveal and later in a conference call with reporters that the committee debated No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) and the Aggies (6-1) at length.
“It was talked about a lot and specifically talked about in the room whether or not Ohio State goes to four or if Texas A&M flips and goes to four and Ohio State goes five,” Barta said. “A lot of discussion about that. At the end of the day, the offensive firepower of Ohio State, all the weapons they have, the win over Indiana.”
Making the comparison more difficult is the fact than Ohio State has only played four games because of COVID-19 restrictions to seven for A&M. Ohio State’s game at Illinois was canceled last week because of a positive COVID-19 tests with the Buckeyes. Another cancellation would make Ohio State ineligible for the Big Ten championship game with a maximum of six regular-season games.
A&M has three games remaining on its schedule, at Auburn and Tennessee and home to Mississippi.
The final CFP rankings are scheduled to be released Dec. 20 with the top four teams comprising the playoff semifinals.
There is not a minimum number of games that teams have to meet to be eligible for the playoff.
Barta admitted the difference in games represents a major challenge for the 13-member committee.
“Frankly, it’s a problem,” Barta said. “It’s a problem that is nobody’s fault. It was created by the pandemic. But the bottom line is the greater body of work that a team brings to the committee, the more the committee has to evaluate.”
Barta singled out the A&M defense on the conference call.
A&M has only allowed 10 points in its last two games, including a 20-7 win over LSU. The Aggies lead the SEC, allowing only 328 yards a game.
“Defense is what the committee sees and is most impressed with when it watches Texas A&M,” Barta said. “They have a heck of a defense. They beat No. 6 Florida. They only lost to Alabama.”
But Barta acknowledged concerns with the Aggies’ offense, which just produced one offensive touchdown against LSU after a 21-day layoff on a rainy evening.
“The committee does continue to keep an eye on Texas A&M’s offense … that game against LSU, 20-7,” Barta said. “When those two teams are put side-by-side this [Tuesday] morning and last [Monday] night, there just wasn’t enough there to put Texas A&M ahead of Ohio State. Great discussion, but Ohio State came in at No. 4 and Texas A&M at No. 5.”
Here are other takeaways from the second week of rankings:
— The Big 12 got a boost, although a CFP berth is a long shot. Iowa State jumped four spots to No. 9 after rallying from 10 points down to beat