The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has made two things clear so far this season: It doesn’t have much respect (if any at all) for non-Power Five programs, and it only puts head-to-head wins into consideration when it wants to. In Week 12 of the college football season, though, multiple teams hilariously proved the committee members wrong and are now forcing them to fix their mistakes.
The CFP rankings have been a jumbled mess so far this season
This season has maybe been the most controversial year for the College Football Playoff since it first came into existence in 2014.
The biggest question-mark of the year has been the the lack of respect the committee has given the Cincinnati Bearcats. Since the first CFP rankings a few weeks ago, the AP and Coaches polls have ranked Cincinnati at either No. 2 or No. 3 overall. The committee, though, went a completely different route and ranked UC at No. 6 before moving the Bearcats up to No. 5 following Michigan State’s loss to Purdue.
The most head-scratching part about that decision is that committee chair Gary Barta said on ESPN that UC’s strength of schedule holds it back. That point could maybe be valid, as it ranks No. 93 in strength of schedule, but the Bearcats actually have a more impressive win than every team ahead of it other than Oregon. It beat No. 8 Notre Dame on the road 24-13, while No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, and No. 4 Ohio State had yet to pick up top-10 wins heading into this week.
The other confusing choice the committee made was deciding to put a head-to-head win into consideration in one case but not the other. It ranked one-loss Oregon over one-loss Ohio State in each of its first three CFP rankings following the Ducks’ win over the Buckeyes in September. After Michigan State’s loss to Purdue, though, it placed the one-loss Spartans a spot behind the one-loss Michigan Wolverines, who MSU beat at the end of October.
What’s questionable about that move — other than the obvious — is that Oregon’s one loss came to a horrible Stanford team while Michigan State lost to a decent Purdue squad. Why would the committee give the benefit of the doubt to the team with the worse loss?
Barta’s explanation was that Michigan is better statistically than Michigan State, but what he failed to realize is that Ohio State is also better statistically than Oregon. So, his reasoning doesn’t hold up.
All in all, the committee either needs to consider head-to-head wins in every case or admit that they don’t matter at all.
Ohio State, Cincinnati, and Oregon proved the committee wrong this week
What’s laughable about everything above is that the committee was proven wrong in multiple ways this week.
Ohio State went out and showed that it’s a much better team than Oregon at this point in the season and should have been ranked above the Ducks, as the Buckeyes dominated No. 7 Michigan State 56-7. (Yes, that also helped justify the committee’s Michigan State ranking, but you can’t lose them all.)
Oregon, on the other hand, showed that its loss to a 3-8 Stanford team should have been taken more seriously, as Utah embarrassed the Ducks 38-7.
And Cincinnati — the team the committee has tried its hardest to keep out of the top four the past two years — dominated a good, eight-win SMU team 48-14.
So, the Buckeyes essentially proved that if any team deserved a spot over the school it lost to, it was them, and the Ducks exposed the fact they were frauds from the very beginning. The Bearcats also showed why they’re not even comparable to their non-Power Five counterparts.
Because of all that, the committee now has no choice but to fix its mistakes.
The selection committee can admit its wrongs in this week’s CFP rankings
The only way the selection committee can make up for all its foolish mistakes of the past is to admit its wrongs by ranking the teams it slighted where they deserve to be ranked.
If the committee members use any logic and morality at all this week, this is what the top 10 should look like:
2. Ohio State
6. Notre Dame
7. Oklahoma State
9. Ole Miss
10. Oklahoma (or BYU)
Of course, essentially every team other than the Bearcats has someone from its conference in the committee. That means money could play a role in the decision to keep Cincinnati out of the top four, as conferences “receive $6 million for each team that is selected for a playoff semifinal,” per the CFP site. But doing that at this point would be admitting that the playoff is fixed.
If the committee wants to regain any credibility at all, it will have its top four look like it does above. Its track record, though, makes nothing certain.
All in all, things will still likely change in the top four, but this is the route the committee should take if it doesn’t want the College Football Playoff to become the laughing stock of all major American sports.