In naming this post "The Rooting Guide" I must acknowledge that the concept of "rooting" is very different in Australia. I would open tabs like SBNations old standby "The Rootability Index", only to hear very loud snickering from my girlfriend looking over my shoulder.
"What's so funny?" I asked.
"A rootability index? Really?" Came the response.
"Sure, it lets people know what teams to root for if they don't have a rooting interest in either team." I explained, repeatedly using the word root.
After further giggling the question was asked, "Don't you know what rooting is?"
"Yes..." came my reply, my eyebrow slowly raising.
"Rooting is having sex in Australia."
"Wait, what? . . . Oh. Oh dear."
So that's how I learned why "Rootability" and "Rooting" for teams is very amusing in Australia, but those are still the terms I'm going to use, because asking "Who do you barrack for?" is weird.
Now that that awkward introduction out of the way, we're to the part of the season where the results of other games in the nation are of the utmost importance- Only four teams can make the college football playoff field, and if TCU wants to be assured of being one of them, the Frogs have to do more than just win out, they need a bit of help. This Rooting guide will let you know what the best outcome for each game is. First let's establish the ground rules-
1.) If a team is ranked above TCU in the playoff poll, they need to lose.
The reasoning behind this is pretty obvious- TCU needs to move up, and the easiest way for that to happen is for the teams above the Frogs to make room for a purple clad Big 12 champ. This is the rule that has the least bend, although there is the caveat-
2.) The SEC needs to only get one team in.
Two teams for the SEC is a disaster scenario for the rest of FBS- as Oregon, TCU, Michigan State, Notre Dame and everyone else who has a shot if they knock off one of the aforementioned teams are already in a dogfight for three spots. The committee has said they'll give added weight to conference championship winners, but I'll feel a lot better if the top dogs of the SEC West start dropping games. To that end, it's not the worst thing in the world if either Alabama or Mississippi State wins out- the SEC propoganda machine is going to make sure that they've got a playoff team no matter what, so it's best to embrace it and hope that one team can dominate the remaining other contenders in the west.
3.) Baylor needs to lose... Once.
This should be easy enough to get behind, at least the first part. As unpleasant as it is, the Bears currently own the tiebreaker over the Frogs, and as a result, if both team wins out, that could lead to some unpleasant conversations when the final playoff poll comes out. Right now the Frogs have the edge thanks to playing more highly ranked teams, a much closer (and widely considered fluky) loss and of course, superior non-conference play. These things may not mean as much if the Bears run through the rest of conference play without another loss and share the conference championship with us- but at the same time, it's probably for the best for us if they don't fall off too badly so that our loss still looks like a quality one. So root against Baylor until they lose, then... Hostile neutrality? Though really, the Bears losing out would be almost worth it.
4.) If a state school (Michigan State/Ohio State/Florida State) plays someone down the line, root against them.
It's unlikely that the B1G conference champion catches us from behind- there's simply not enough quality depth behind the top teams, and the ACC is worse- much worse, so if Florida State drops a game they're going to be in a tough spot. Despite that, it's best to leave nothing to chance. Any game that has a ranked B1G team or ACC team, root for the other guy. The worse the potential resume for the ACC or B1G champ, the better it is for us- with one notable exception.
5.) Root for Minnesota to win out
In addition to being blog bros for life with The Daily Gopher,
the better Minnesota looks, the better the Frogs look for their comprehensive victory over the Gophers in non-conference play. In an ideal world, we want Minnesota to fill their trophy case and end up in Indianapolis as the B1G West representative- and even more ideally, for them to win the conference championship. It may not be the most likely outcome, but every Gopher win is a gift for the Frogs from here on out.
So, with those basic rules, let's have a look at this weeks games of interest- your rooting interests are in bold.
Rule 1 games
Texas A&M @ #3 Auburn
I know there are very few fans of the Aggies around these parts, but Auburn is by far the most troublesome team out there. Alabama winning out would take care of most of the SEC issues, but Auburn and Mississippi State both winning out is the most dangerous situation for the SEC getting two teams into the playoff. If it comes down to it, we may end up in the distasteful position of having to root for Alabama in a football game, so if Auburn wants to do us a solid and lose early, that would be great.
Virginia @ #2 Florida State
As unimpressive as the Seminoles have looked at times this year, we all know the defending champs will be in the playoff if they win out. We all remember the Virginia Cavaliers from our 2012 home game, and some of us will be bitter about the loss their baseball team tacked on us in the College World series this year, but it's important to set that aside for the greater good this week. Root for the Cavaliers to upset the Seminoles and the playoff picture becomes a lot more attractive to the Big 12 champion- and as Virginia has had a way of playing good Florida State teams close over the years, focus more of your rooting energies here than you might otherwise.
Tennessee-Martin @ #1 Mississippi State
Okay, let's get this out of the way- UT Martin is not going to beat the #1 team in the nation. Still, you want an ugly game and maybe a 14 point margin of victory. The worse the Bulldogs look against the Skyhawks, the easier it will be for the committee to drop them if they lose one of their remaining games. So hope for a decent result for UT-Martin, but don't strain yourself.
#4 Oregon @ #17 Utah
Our old friends/rivals from the Mountain West are in the best place to help us this week, as
#5 Alabama @ #16 LSU
The Tide are actually our best chance of not having two SEC teams in the playoff, but for this week at least, we can feel good cheering against the Tide. It won't matter too much in the long run if the Tide don't beat Auburn, but it's never a bad thing to move an SEC team out of playoff talks entirely (for at least a week).
Rule 3 Game
#12 Baylor @ #15 Oklahoma
Is "Baylor Delenda Est" enough? If so, Baylor Delenda Est.
Rule 4 Games
#14 Ohio State @ #8 Michigan State
Another distasteful pick for many of us, but the Big Sisters of the Poor are the preferred victor in the Gameday game this week, as they have two things that Michigan State doesn't have. First, they have a worse loss- a defeat at home to a pretty bad Virginia Tech team (compared to a road loss at Oregon) and second they have a fairly poisonous reputation of failure on the biggest stage- fair or not. OSU has a bigger, more historic name than either MSU or TCU, but the recent perception of the Buckeyes is about as poisonous as the nuts for which they're named. TCU might not be 100% safe with a Buckeye win, but they're definitely closer.
#25 Wisconsin @ Purdue
#24 Georgia Tech @ North Carolina State
#22 Duke @ Syracuse
If things go our way it will be a rough week for teams on the fringes of the top 25. With Nebraska on a bye the only future opponents of substance for our playoff rivals are just a few steps away from "Also receiving votes" category- which is exactly where we hope to see them next week. Cheer for the Boilermakers, Wolfpack and Orange in their games this week.
Rule 5 game
Iowa @ Minnesota
Not only is it a Minnesota game (so we want them to win) but it's one of their biggest rivalry games, and a win might even get the Gophers back into the high "Also receiving votes" category. Bring home the bacon, Gophers.
With these hopeful results in mind, this is your open thread for all of the action for the morning and afternoon- enjoy, root hard (you may be able to hear my girlfriend snickering from Australia at that last one) and get ready for the blackout tonight.