Reaction after the fourth round of College Football Playoff rankings. What to take away from the latest top 25.
College Football Playoff Rankings Top 25 Reaction, Week 4
You’d think the fourth round of College Football Playoff rankings would be no big deal with the top four holding firm, but there’s a potential theoretical problem, and there’s a new nightmare scenario.
Work with me here.
I’m all into hypotheticals, but I’m not diving too deep yet into all the possibilities that would require a historical anomaly. We have yet to see a crazy Power Five conference championship upset in the College Football Playoff era, much less two or three. With that said …
Try this, and it’s not all that far-fetched. Georgia BLASTS LSU. TCU loses to Iowa State and the Big 12 Championship. USC loses to Notre Dame and in the Pac-12 Championship. Clemson loses to South Carolina and/or to North Carolina.
IN: Georgia, the Big Ten Champion (for this to work, go with Ohio State since the Michigan resumé is blah) and we need two more teams …
BTW, Alabama is No. 7. Maybe the Ohio State-Michigan loser is in. Who’s the fourth in this scenario? Clemson would probably have to lose the ACC Championship, but …
Nah. Sorry. Let’s move on. This is the bigger deal this week …
LSU at 5 and USC at 6 matters … for now. What happens if LSU trucks Texas A&M by a gajillion this week and then goes on to beat Georgia for the SEC Championship? That means – at the moment – there’s no argument to put USC up into the top four over LSU if it comes down to LSU or USC for the fourth spot.
LSU’s win over (1) Georgia would be better than anything USC will have. Combine that with a win over (7) Alabama, (10) Tennessee, and (20) Ole Miss, and throw the SEC Champion t-shirt into the ring, and we might have our first two-loss team in the College Football Playoff, UNLESS …
The College Football Playoff committee might put USC up into the 4 spot next week in the penultimate rankings. The argument then would be that the Trojans – if it happens – beat (15) Notre Dame, and LSU beat an unranked losing-season Texas A&M program. That’s the out. If that doesn’t happen, then the committee will have zero argument to leave out LSU if it wins the SEC Championship.
If LSU and USC both win, and if LSU is 4 and USC 5, then 1) the committee can’t use the “won the conference championship” argument to put in USC over LSU. 2) It can’t harp on the two loss thing – or the destruction at home again Tennessee – because that’s already baked into the current rankings. 3) LSU will have been No. 4 and would’ve beaten the No. 1 unbeaten Bulldogs – assuming a win over Georgia Tech this weekend.
The committee is really, really, really, really, really blowing off LSU’s 40-13 home loss to Tennessee.
With ALL of that said …
This is all based on LSU beating Georgia. If that doesn’t happen, USC is in the College Football Playoff if it wins out, no matter what.
The Ohio State-Michigan loser will be in big, big trouble. Forget it if you’re Michigan – the rest of the resumé isn’t good enough. Ohio State would have a case if it loses a close game and if Notre Dame beats USC this weekend, but it would be tough. However …
Clemson deserves a lot more love and respect than 8. It won at (16) Florida State. Florida State beat LSU. The loss to Notre Dame stinks, but if it wins out, beating South Carolina will mean something and taking down (17) North Carolina will be part of the debate.
Clemson needs help. It can do this, but USC has to lose, TCU has to lose at least the Big 12 Championship, and LSU can’t beat Georgia.
No, the Michigan-Ohio State loser wouldn’t get in over a 12-1 ACC Champion Clemson. I think.
The committee didn’t punish UCF enough for losing to Navy. I get that it beat Cincinnati, but the Navy loss at home combined with the 34-13 loss to East Carolina should push it back. It doesn’t really matter, though – the AAC Champion is a mortal lock to be the New Year’s Six throw-the-Group-of-Five-a-cookie bowl team.
If you’re going to put UCF at 22, then you sort of have to put (25) Louisville higher. The Cardinals won in Orlando 20-14 earlier in the season.
So let’s cut to the chase. At the moment, NOW what’s the pecking order? Let’s say everyone wins. Let’s say everyone fits the historical profile. How does this shake out? If all things are even …
1. 13-0 Georgia
2. 13-0 Big Ten champ
3. 13-0 TCU
4. 12-1 USC
5. 12-1 Clemson
Take that and go from there.
Iowa – assuming it’s Iowa – could really screw things up if it wins the Big Ten title. That’s almost certainly not going to happen, but Kansas State could take the Big 12 Championship and whatever the second option is could beat USC for the Pac-12 title.
The Big Ten is taking it on the chin. Beating up on each other doesn’t mean the teams need to be ranked all that high, but there’s (2) Ohio State, (3) Michigan, and (11) Penn State, and nothing else. Between those three, Ohio State’s win over (17) Notre Dame is the only non-conference win of note – considering Penn State beating Auburn isn’t all that big a deal.
Give me the big, giant, hairy (16) Florida State win other than whatever that was against LSU in Week 1. Let me save you the trouble. There isn’t one.
The committee cares about injuries, so the Hendon Hooker season-ending knee injury factors into Tennessee at 10. Okay, but that’s sort of a cop-out ranking. Either go with the idea that the team isn’t the same without Hooker and put it WAY lower – definitely behind Penn State – or stick with the earned credits and put it ahead of (7) Alabama.
I’m still not exactly sure what (24) Cincinnati did to earn a top 25 spot, but okay, whatever.
It continues to be the fatal flaw of the College Football Playoff methodology – besides being based on a panel of judges, it doesn’t give enough credit to tough losses against great teams, and it continues to overlove any win over a good team.
Unless you’re (7) Alabama, and those close losses to Tennessee and LSU weren’t close losses. Alabama simply ran out of time.
I can’t change the future, I can only see it … What’s it going to be at the end of all this fun?
1. Georgia, 2. Ohio State, 3. USC, 4. Clemson