Meaning, both the ACC and Pac-12 are picked to miss the 2015 College Football Playoff.
According to the preseason rankings, the SEC will be the evil villain once again, knocking a second conference from the postseason tournament. But that could just as easily be the Big Ten or the Big 12.
That’s right, Bob Bowlsby, the league that was left out in the cold last winter could be in a great position to get two teams into the postseason this year.
In fact, it could happen much easier than expected.
Baylor and TCU appear to be the class of the Big 12 once again after barely missing out on a Playoff bid a year ago. Both were deserving of being in the conversation, of course, but someone had to be left out and no one can legitimately argue that the four teams that got in didn’t deserve it.
Both look like nationally elite teams this fall and expect that motivation to work in favor of the Big 12 this fall.
The Bears, ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll, have 17 starters back and arguably the best combined line of scrimmage in football. Art Briles is stacked at the skill positions and his quarterback freight train will continue to roll with Seth Russell manning the controls.
Despite another weak non-conference schedule, an undefeated Baylor squad would easily make it into the College Football Playoff and a one-loss Big 12 champion Bears team would probably make the tournament as well.
TCU returns 15 starters, including 10 on offense — one of which is All-American quarterback Trevone Boykin. The defense has major holes to fill and those voids are the biggest reason the Horned Frogs are picked second in the Big 12 behind Baylor despite the game moving to Fort Worth this fall.
However, TCU is picked No. 5 in the nation and the first team left out of the Playoff according to Athlon's preseason Top 25. If Gary Patterson’s bunch loses only one game in close fashion to the Big 12 champion Baylor Bears — exactly like it did last year — then TCU has as good a shot at snatching a Playoff bid as any team in the land.
A one-loss TCU with wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and a road victory over Minnesota could easily give the Big 12 two Playoff representatives.
The same story could be written if the roles are reversed.
If TCU goes 12-0 and Baylor’s only defeat is a narrow road loss against an unbeaten Horned Frogs team, both programs could easily slip into the postseason tournament.
Even if one of the two doesn’t go unbeaten and the pair ties atop the Big 12 standings again (each with only one loss), both would still be in excellent shape to make the Playoff.
Much of that hinges on how the other leagues fare. But with two Power 5 leagues — the ACC and Pac-12 — potentially lacking a clear-cut elite team, this fall is as good a year as any for one conference to steal two Playoff bids.
Not only is the Big 12 likely to get its champion into the Playoff, but it also may have the best shot at getting a second team in the final four. It’s really not far-fetched at all.
The irony of the entire situation is that if the Big 12 had a championship game this season, none of the above would be possible.