The latest rankings could show something is afoot for the playoff selection

Big 12 Report: Did the Big 12 get set up by the selection committee?

The latest college football playoff rankings have me thinking the committee might have a scheme for the Big 12. There are a few elements to this scheme, so let's see what all the elements are to my conspiracy theory.

The Baylor Jump

A victory at home against a disappointing Texas team got Baylor a five spot jump? FIVE SPOTS?

That is crazy! A few weeks ago Oklahoma barely budged when they beat Baylor in Waco but somehow this week the Bears jump five spots because of a victory over the Longhorns? This is one of the wildest moments by this version of the committee so far.

Oklahoma holding steady

The Sooners jumped up two spots with the losses of the Oregon Ducks and Penn State. They trail only the undefeated teams, Georgia, Alabama, and Utah.

It is important to note that while the Sooners moved up, it wasn't on their own virtue, it was two teams losing in front of them. Oklahoma though, has a leg up on Alabama and Utah down the stretch.

They have two ranked opponents left on their schedule with a rivalry game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater and a Big 12 Championship showdown with Baylor. Neither Utah nor Alabama can face a team ranked as high as Baylor or a second ranked team.

Now, obviously if Baylor slips up against Kansas the Big 12 is screwed.

A top ten victory over the Bears would be a great data point that Alabama nor Utah would possess. The committee added the best win among the contenders for the fourth spot to the equation with how they ranked Baylor.

Rewarding attempted tough scheduling

Here are the non-conference games for Oklahoma, Utah, and Alabama.

Oklahoma

vs Houston

vs South Dakota

at UCLA

Utah

@ BYU

vs Northern Illinois

vs Idaho State

Alabama

vs Duke (neutral site)

vs New Mexico State

vs Southern Mississippi

vs Western Carolina

At some point, the committee needs to reward someone who isn't undefeated but scheduled harder than their opponents. Oklahoma scheduled a team that was supposed to compete for the best Group of 5 team mantle in the Houston Cougars. UCLA was supposed to be solid this year under Chip Kelly.

Utah has a built in rivalry game with BYU which isn't a bad team but isn't a good team. The other two games aren't on UCLA or Houston's level. Alabama's non-conference was a joke this season. They didn't leave the South and didn't play a true road game.

The selection committee needs to eventually reward scheduling when records are equal and the conference's are unbalanced.

Oklahoma's case is solid, but they might need help

An easy victory over Oklahoma State and Baylor would go a long way towards the ​Sooners making the playoff yet again.

They need help though. Oregon beating Utah would go a long way to keeping the discussion limited to Alabama or Oklahoma for the final spot in the playoff. Auburn slowing down Alabama and playing them close might help the Sooners too. If backup quarterback Mac Jones struggles, the Crimson Tide could be losing support as one of the top four teams. Also, a Georgia upset of LSU in the SEC championship likely voids Utah, Alabama, and Oklahoma's chances.

Of course, should Auburn upset Alabama, the Sooners would be near locks to make the playoffs.

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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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