It’s time for the girlfriend to giggle every time she glances over at what I’m working on, because this week features the return of the Rooting guide! A quick explanation:
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.
So, we’ve reached the halfway point of the season and the Frogs not only remain undefeated to this point, but are alone on top of the conference standings. Winning the Big 12 would put the Frogs in a great position to make the playoff, but as fans we don’t just want a great position- we want the best position, we want leeway in case things go wrong at any point, we want insurance. And so... we root! Each week the Rooting Guide will let you know what the best outcome for each game is, so you can get that little extra charge out of your weekend’s viewing and scoreboard watching. Let's establish the ground rules-
1.) Teams ranked above TCU and undefeated teams need to lose
This one is fairly obvious, but it bears a bit of explanation. We want TCU to be ranked #1 in the nation, not just for bragging rights and potential recruiting gains, but it also sets the Frogs up with the best possible matchup when the games begin- No, we don’t actually want Bama (at least not in round 1), and a trip to the Sugar Bowl would be much easier on the players than a return to the Rose Bowl (even thought that would be awesome) and the highest seeded team is placed in their nearest semifinal location.
2.) The SEC and Big 10 need to only get one team in
Yes, we haven’t had a conference get two teams in yet, but don’t let that make you think that it would be impossible for it to happen. Alabama is Alabama, so even if they lose a game, they have so much cache (and ESPN hype) that they won’t fall far, and if you think two of the trio of Penn State/Michigan/Ohio State at 12-1/11-1 wouldn’t get a ton of consideration, you haven’t been paying attention. The good news is that the Pac 12 and ACC have been cannibalizing on each other at a good rate so far, so any theoretical second team (bar Miami) would be guaranteed at least two losses and be an unlikely choice. We want either chaos, or complete dominance in the Big 10 and SEC, so this is a category with a bit of potential change.
3.) If a Big 12 team is ranked, they’re our friend- unless you don’t want to play them twice.
A much more palatable point now that Tech isn’t ranked and Baylor has reverted to their usual Big 12 member selves, but essentially we want other Big 12 teams to be higher ranked so that we look good for beating them/having beaten them already. Of course, given the wacky Big 12 title game business, we will be guaranteed a rematch with a team we’ve played this season, so feel free to digress a bit if there’s a team that you don’t want to have to see play the Frogs twice.
4.) Woo Pig Sooie
Arkansas is our non-conference scalp this season so, for better or worse, their performance reflects a bit on us. If they can manage a bowl bid it might be enough to break a tie in the CFP committee room, but who knows.
5.) Baylor should lose
It doesn’t actually benefit us poll wise either way, but screw those guys.
With those basic rules in mind, let’s have a look at the week’s games- your rooting interests are in bold.
Rule 1 games
So. Alabama is #1. We want TCU to be #1. This means at some point Alabama needs to lose so TCU can be #1. It checks out so far, but this... this is probably not going to be the week. Alabama has beaten Tennessee 10 straight years and Tennessee has been experimenting with all sorts of innovative ways to lose games and infuriate their fanbase this season. Root for the Vols because rule 1, but don’t get too invested in it.
This has the makings of a very interesting game, so it’s annoying that it’s on at the same time as TCU’s inevitable struggle with the Jayhawks. The Wolverines have an absolutely incredible defense, but their quarterback would likely remind you of 2013 Trevone Boykin. . . . I apologize for reminding you of 2013 Trevone Boykin. Meanwhile Penn State’s offense outside of the absolutely incredible Saquon Barkley is kind of eh (compounded by a pretty weak OL), so there is the potential for this one to be very interesting. Root hard for the Wolverines, but don’t risk a “Go Blue!”, lest the rooting gods think that you mean Kansas.
Our old Rose Bowl nemeses have ridden a pretty weak schedule to an undefeated record so far (Question: What do all of the teams that Wisconsin has played have in common? Answer: They currently don’t have a winning record) and it isn’t going to be much better until November. Still, there is some interesting rooting with the Badgers as they’ve struggled a bit at home against underwhelming Northwestern and a weird Purdue team. Now Maryland may not be the team to knock off the Badgers (The Terps defense is the worst in the B1G) but they do have a big road win to their name already. Get a solid root on this one, go Terps.
Syracuse Orange @ #8 Miami Hurricanes
Now here’s where it gets interesting. The Hurricanes are one of 8 teams in FBS to remain undefeated at this point, but have also seemed to be the team that is most frequently in danger. The numbers back this up as Miami has actually been trailing in their games more than twice as often as every other undefeated team and the Hurricanes only took the lead over Georgia Tech with four seconds left to play. On the other side is Syracuse, fresh off one of the biggest wins in program history over the defending national champion Clemson Tigers. This game has the making of a great early morning root, so feel free to cheer the ‘Cuse with all you’ve got; they were almost our conference mates for a while!
Rule 3 games
TCU’s most impressive win on the season is still their road romp over the Cowboys, so the better OSU looks in the ensuing weeks the better it is. On the other hand, beating 4-3 Texas isn’t really any different than beating 3-4 Texas from our perspective. They’re not back. Go Pokes.
Iowa State Cyclones @ Texas Tech Red Raiders
Somehow the idea that Iowa State could be ranked next week isn’t that far fetched? The record is good at 4-2, their losses aren’t that bad (OT against Iowa is a perk) and they have an awesome feather in their cap with the Oklahoma win. If LSU can be ranked after their loss to Troy and that beatdown by MSU, why not ISU? Tech could definitely earn a ranking again as well, but with so much time between now and when they play us, I’d rather have the quick payoff. Go Clones.
Here’s an interesting one. On the one hand, a second loss with games against TCU, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech remaining seems like it would all but guarantee that the Sooners will not be a participant in the Big 12 title game. That’s good! On the other hand the Sooners are the marquee team of the Big 12 and a road win over a highly ranked OU team would be an excellent boon and a loss against the Sooners would be much more forgivable than any other that the Frogs may have on the schedule (particularly if they got to avenge it on a neutral field). I’d prefer the Sooners win this week, but feel free to go the other way on this one.
Rule 4 game
Our first opportunity to actually root (root root) for the home team this week, as the Hogs host Auburn. This could be a big one for bowl eligibility for the Hogs if they’re going to get it, so a passive root is in order. I don’t think they’re likely to get it, though.
Baylor Delenda Est.
With those hopefuls in mind, enjoy your football viewing before tomorrow night’s ultimately frustrating showdown with the Jayhawks.
Go Frogs and root hard!