BYU opens at No. 14 in College Football Playoff’s initial rankings
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU takes the field for football action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the UTSA Roadrunners, at Lavell Edwards stadium, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020.
The first set of rankings for the College Football Playoffs were released on Tuesday evening, and the BYU Cougars were left a little disappointed.
The Cougars checked in at No. 14, according to the CFP Selection Committee’s initial evaluation. That puts BYU outside the top 12, which it likely needs to be in to qualify for a New Year’s 6 bowl berth as an independent, at-large team.
“We can only control what we can control,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said during a Zoom call with reporters. “Hopefully we’ve earned enough time. I just like seeing these guys play, you know, hopefully we can get another game scheduled because of what they’ve done already and whatever game that is, whatever bowl. We will appreciate the opportunity to play together again as a team. We would love to play more.”
BYU is 9-0 with one scheduled game left to play. The Cougars have also been dominant in most of those wins. But the selection committee clearly was less than impressed with BYU’s schedule, which was stitched together on the fly by BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe after the Cougars’ original, much tougher slate of games collapsed under the weight of the pandemic.
By contrast, the Cougars are ranked No. 8 nationally in this week’s Associated Press Poll.
BYU has played, and beaten Navy, Troy, Louisiana Tech, UTSA, Houston, Texas State, Western Kentucky, Boise State and North Alabama.
But of all those games, only the Boise State victory stands out as a signature triumph. And the Broncos were shorthanded in that game, CFP selection committee chair Gary Barta noted during ESPN’s rankings show.
“Certainly the schedule, compared to the teams around them, came into play,” he said.
Sitake, however, had a rebuttal to Barta.
Because of COVID-19, along with usual injuries, teams all over the nation are having their depth tested. The Cougars have had their fair share of injuries this season as well, but also were able to beat a ranked Boise State last year with their own third-string quarterback.
“We’ve never been full strength, but we don’t cry about it either,” Sitake said. “You know, we just go on play and and we feel really good with our depth. How many times have we played with missing linemen or missing position here and there and really haven’t skipped the beat as a team? And I think that’s a huge compliment to our depth.”
The tough part for the Cougars is that they have only more contest scheduled — a Dec, 12 game against San Diego State in Provo. Holmoe says BYU is continuing to try and schedule an additional game, but a proposed matchup with Washington in Seattle this weekend collapsed on Sunday after BYU was unwilling to sign on without a firm commitment that the game would actually be played.
Washington, which had its Saturday Apple Cup game against Washington State canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak at WSU, was unable to make a commitment because of Pac-12 rules requiring them to play a conference foe if one is available. That left the Huskies unable to solidify a matchup with BYU until Thursday, at the earliest. UW’s opponent now might end up being Utah — whose Sunday game at Arizona State was canceled because of ASU”s ongoing virus issues.
BYU was still criticized roundly for not signing on to play the Huskies, regardless of the stipulations.
Sitake made it clear, though, that BYU didn’t shy away from the game. The Cougars actually started preparing for Washington and even held a “really good practice” on Monday.
“Like I said before ... the narrative that we were ducking or hiding or waiting for the [CFP rankings] announcement to happen is clearly not true — it’s a false narrative,” Sitake said. “So that’s disappointing. We’re disappointed that we didn’t get to play this game. And for whatever reason, Washington, Pac-12 Conference and BYU, they weren’t able to come to terms.”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS
1. Alabama (7-0)
2. Notre Dame (8-0)
3. Clemson (7-1)
4. Ohio State (4-0)
5. Texas A&M (5-1)
6. Florida (6-1)
7. Cincinnati (8-0)
8. Northwestern (5-0)
9. Georgia (5-2)
10. Miami (7-1)
11. Oklahoma (6-2)
12. Indiana (4-1)
13. Iowa State (6-2)
14. BYU (9-0)
15. Oregon (3-0)
17. Texas (5-2)
18. USC (3-0)
19. North Carolina (6-2)
20. Coastal Carolina (8-0)
21. Marshall (7-0)
22. Auburn (5-2)
23. Oklahoma State (5-2)
24. Iowa (3-2)
25. Tulsa (5-1)