The Monday After: Big 12's playoff hopes on life support, McCaffrey is not human

During the second week of the 2014 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech at home. Immediately afterward, plenty of college football experts, writers and dudes who just yell things on television for money were telling you that the Big Ten's playoff hopes were already gone.

It was the first year of the College Football Playoff, yet so many thought they already knew how it worked.

Well, the Big Ten wasn't eliminated from the playoff that year. Ohio State didn't lose again in 2014, and it beat both Alabama and Oregon in the CFP to claim a national title, making a lot of people look stupid in the process.

I wasn't one of those who wrote the Buckeyes off, but I remember it because it was a valuable lesson that, in the world of the playoff, we shouldn't read too much into what we see early in the season.

But I only learned so much from that, because I sit here on Sept. 19 telling you that the Big 12 won't be getting a team in the playoff this season. Those dreams died on Saturday night.

Now, I assure you this isn't just a knee-jerk reaction. I have reasons for feeling this way, and I'll gladly go over them for you right now in numbered fashion.

1. Oklahoma is 1-2 and it might still be the best team in the conference: Honestly, if I ask you right now which Big 12 team is better than Oklahoma, are you able to name anybody with absolute confidence? The Sooners are 1-2, but their two losses have come to two good teams in Houston and Ohio State, so there isn't much to be ashamed of there. That being said, it's still two losses, and the CFP Selection Committee has already seen Oklahoma lose two high-profile games in three weeks. Combine that with the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson and, well, the committee's gonna be a bit skeptical about the Sooners going forward!

2. The only realistic hopes aside from Oklahoma are Baylor, TCU and maybe Texas: Oklahoma State was removed from any kind of consideration when it lost to Central Michigan, and while you can make all the ethical arguments in the world about that loss, the fact of the matter is Oklahoma State shouldn't have allowed Central Michigan to even be in that position -- not if it wants to be a title contender. TCU only has the one loss, sure, but its defense has struggled big time, and it already lost its one nonconference game that would have looked nice on the resume. Texas is improved, but let's not get crazy. It still has flaws, including Saturday's loss to Cal.

Then there's Baylor. Yes, the Bears are 3-0, but let's be honest with ourselves. The nonconference schedule is still a joke, and the committee will look for any reason to exclude Baylor from the sport's premiere event after what took place in Waco during the offseason. That's a public relations nightmare it will want to avoid. And sorry West Virginia, I know you're 2-0, but there isn't enough moonshine in the Appalachians to convince me you're going 12-0.

3. The conference's reputation is already in the tank, and it won't get better by playing itself: Through three weeks of the 2016 season, Big 12 teams have played 13 nonconference games against the Power Five and AAC. They've gone 3-10 in those games. The three wins are West Virginia over Mizzou, Oklahoma State over Pitt, and Texas over Notre Dame (I'm including the Irish in the Power Five). Those wins in a vacuum are nice, but when put next to the 10 losses, they don't matter much.

This is all reflected in the latest AP Top 25, as the highest-ranked Big 12 team is Baylor at No. 16. It's the first time since the formation of the conference that it doesn't have at least one team ranked in the top 15. Ahead of Baylor are four ACC teams, four SEC teams, four Big Ten teams, two Pac-12 teams and Houston. That should tell you everything you need to know about where the Big 12 is in the minds of the country as a whole, and while the AP Top 25 has no say in the CFP, you're kidding yourself if you believe the committee isn't affected by it.

I'm sorry, Big 12, but you're playing for the Sugar Bowl this year and that's it.

Coaching Advice of the Week

We've seen it quite a few times during the first three weeks. Players are dropping the ball before the goal line at an alarming rate. The latest incident came at the end of Cal-Texas on Saturday night, though Cal did not pay the price. Similarly, Oklahoma's Joe Mixon got away with the same stupidity against Ohio State. Now, I'm not here to yell at the players or the refs -- though, believe me, I could easily write 1,000 words on the arrogance of the refs in Berkeley, California, for ruling that Texas didn't recover a fumble soon enough when it took them five minutes to figure out it was a fumble in the first place -- for their stupidity or inability to do their jobs as described.

I'm here to make a plea to you, the coaches, in order to put an end to this epidemic. Coach your players to hand the ball to the ref after every score. Every. Single. Score. Drill it into them. If they don't do it, punish them. Make them run laps or whatever the hell you need to do. There's no excuse for their stupidity, but they're still your responsibility, and you owe it to them as well as yourselves. Nothing bad will come from mandating your players give the ball to the ref.

Scheduling Advice of the Week

OK, now that I've told coaches how to do their jobs, I'll move on to the athletic directors of the world. And I'm putting this in in bold so you don't miss it. Stop scheduling North Dakota State, you morons.

How many times does North Dakota State need to accept a check to beat an FBS team before you all realize this? There are so many FCS teams to choose from, so stop scheduling the one that wins all the time. Since the 2010 season, North Dakota State has five wins against Power Five competition in five games. Kansas has four wins in 57 attempts.

Oregon, you're the next victim. You've currently got North Dakota State scheduled for 2020 at Autzen Stadium. I don't know what the buyout is for that game, but pay it. Schedule Kansas instead.

Stat of the Week

This comes courtesy of ESPN's David Lombardi, and it's one of the most amazing stats I've ever heard. Seriously, when Chip Patterson shared it with me while recording the SEC on CBS Podcast, it stopped me cold.

Christian McCaffrey finished with 165 rushing yards in Stanford's 27-10 win over USC. Of those 165 yards, 107 of them came before contact. Not after contact. Before contact.

Think about that. This isn't because McCaffrey was lining up 40 yards behind the line of scrimmage as all 107 of those yards came at the line of scrimmage and beyond. He had 107 yards on 30 carries before every being touched! That means McCaffrey was averaging 3.5 yards per carry before a USC defender even laid a finger on him. That's insane. That's just not supposed to happen. I am bewildered I tell you. Bewildered!

Proof That Purdue Would Dominate the SEC of the Week

Alabama ended its losing streak to Ole Miss on Saturday, winning a 48-43 shootout in Oxford, Mississippi. That means that the last team to beat Nick Saban three straight times is still Purdue, which did so from 1997-99 when Saban was in charge at Michigan State.

Also, both LSU and Florida won games on Saturday while playing former Purdue quarterbacks. The Tigers and Gators will be starting those quarterbacks again next week, and they may even go head-to-head in three weeks' time.

Go ahead, put Purdue in the SEC East and then get the hell out the way.

Angry Fan of the Week

In last week's Friday Five, I decided to rank the five ranked teams I thought were most vulnerable to upset, and at the top of the list I had Florida State. My opinion that Florida State might lose to Louisville drew this response on Twitter.

Well, if you read Friday Five, you know that FSU not having Derwin James was one of four reasons I thought it was vulnerable, but apparently our friend Ken didn't read the other three.

Anyway, I haven't heard from Ken since Saturday. I hope he's OK.

Sideline Axe of the Week

Hey, ArDarius Stewart's just chillin on the sideline with an axe. NBD.

Self-Preservation Act of the Week

I would like you to pay close attention to the bald dude in the center of this video. If you look over his shoulder, you'll see Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau (No. 13) sitting on the bench. Liufau had been hurt in the game, and he was on the bench being attended to by the trainer. Big Baldie was there standing guard, out there to protect the team's quarterback. And as you see in the video, as the action approaches the sideline, Big Baldie sticks his arm out.

He's ready! Baldie is ready to lay down his life to protect his quarterback! It was what he was sworn to do. Night gathers, and now his watch begins.

But then when Jabrill Peppers approaches at full Jabrill Peppers speed, watch Baldie Ballerina get out of the way.

You even had a Cheshire cat grin on your face as Liufau and a trainer were demolished. For shame, Baldie. For shame.

You had one job, bro, and you chose not to do it. As a result, I'm sitting here super angry with you, while simultaneously respecting the hell out of your agility to dance out of the way of your own impending doom.

Tweet of the Week

Mike Vick is lying to you. Lamar Jackson has been amazing this year, but three amazing games do not a better player than Mike Vick make.

Pizza of the Week

Shout out to CBS Sports NFL writer Will Brinson's cheeseless pizza, y'all.

Photo of the Week

This photo of Noah Brown's amazing touchdown grab against the Sooners is just magnificent -- from the catch to everything going on around it. Especially Brutus acting like he can see anything in that damn costume, and the Oklahoma fan next to him who has no idea what's about to happen.

We were amazed, too, Brutus. USATSI

College Football Playoff Projection of the Week

1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Louisville
4. Stanford

Until next week!

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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