Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thoughts on the College Football Playoff Rankings

By Kevin Beane

I will say this about the College Football Playoff Committee: they don't have an easy job, and that's especially true this year. At this time last year, there were only two undefeated teams remaining. This year, there are a whopping 11. Secondly, I commend them for being bold. Bouncing TCU out of the playoffs and dropping behind both Ohio State and Baylor following the last week of the season last year despite blowing out Iowa State may or may not have been fair or "right," but it was bold and their choice was vindicated, at least in OSU's case, by the end result.

But do I agree with their first rankings of the year? Uh, that'd be a "hell no." Let's break it down.

Clemson at No. 1 isn't terrible, but I don't understand their love affair with the ACC (let's go ahead and count Notre Dame as an ACC member for this exercise). Notre Dame is a way-too-high No. 5. Earlier in the week, ESPN "made the case" for the top 11 potential playoff candidates, and Notre Dame wasn't even among them.

Notre Dame's wins over Temple, USC, and Georgia Tech were good, but narrow, and playing Clemson down to the wire was also impressive. But the majority of their wins are by 10 points or less, and the exceptions (Texas, UMass, Navy) are not impressive.

Finally, Notre Dame's inclusion at fifth brings up my main beef with these rankings: not nearly enough weight was given to being undefeated.

Despite those 11 undefeated teams, 8 of which are in major conferences, Alabama is sitting at 4th with a loss, with Notre Dame poised to overtake them if they lose. They are ahead of the likes of Baylor, Michigan State, and TCU (hosed again by the committee, sitting at No. 8).

Another gripe: I think now that it will be absolutely impossible for a team outside the big 5 conferences + Notre Dame to crash the playoffs. Memphis is a lowly 13th besides not only being undefeated, but beating Ole Miss, who beat the committee's beloved Alabama. But the AP and Coaches Poll treat Memphis even worse, so I can't single out the CFP committee too much here.

Here are my own rankings. I'll do 12:

1. Ohio State — This is basically the same team as last year, and seem to have shaken off their early season struggles now that J.T. Barrett is under center (except for next week, when he's suspended).

2. LSU — The SEC is still the strongest conference in the country. It will be awhile before an undefeated SEC team belongs outside the top 2 or 3 in my book.

3. Clemson — If they beat Florida State this weekend, they will be really rolling downhill the rest of the way out.

4. Baylor — Light out-of-conference schedules acknowledged, I don't know why the CFP Committee is so down on the Big 12.

5. TCU — Hate having to leave them out of the top four. But they'll get a chance to beat Baylor.

6. Alabama — I think I'm being a bit generous to have them even at No. 6. But as important as being undefeated is to me, I don't want it to be absolute.

7. Michigan State — That win over Oregon is looking less impressive all the time, and the win over Michigan is, let's just say it, a fluke.

8. Oklahoma State — If any of Big 12 teams finishes the year undefeated and gets left out, I'm boycotting ... something, I haven't decided yet. Point is, Oklahoma State has the opportunity to shoot way up this poll if they can beat TCU this week and Baylor later, and they get them both at home.

9. Memphis — You can only beat who you schedule, and Memphis has a very high quality win.

10. Notre Dame — This seems like a more appropriate spot for them.

11. Iowa — Beat Northwestern and Wisconsin on the road. I'm tempted to put them higher.

12. Utah — How great does that win over Michigan look now?

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