We are hours away from finding out just how the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will begin to decipher the mess that college football was this past week. Despite this, I wanted to take a look at the possibilities and what I thought was most likely based off my interpretation of their process as well as a little of my own opinion.
Let’s start with current strength of schedules (courtesy of Sagarin) & computer rankings (courtesy of S&P+). For continuity purposes the following is how the teams were ranked in week 10’s CFP ranking.
Team (Strength of Schedule) Offense: # Defense: #
- Alabama (6) Offense: #5 Defense: #2
- Clemson (30) Offense: #15 Defense: #7
- Michigan (49) Offense: #25 Defense: #1
- Washington (63) Offense: #11 Defense: #13
- Ohio St. (31) Offense: #8 Defense: #6
- Louisville (64) Offense: #1 Defense: #8
- Wisconsin (11) Offense: #59 Defense: #3
DATA #1: Looking at just the strength of schedules alone, we can quantify these teams in 3 categories: Tier 1 (Alabama & Wisconsin), Tier 2 (Clemson & Ohio St.), and Tier 3 (Michigan, Washington, and Louisville).
DATA #2: I don’t believe the CFP selection committee takes into account computer rankings any, if at all, but I will because they can be used as verification for the eye test. If you were to ask me to rank the teams based off of the CURRENT eye test alone, I would rank as follows: Alabama, Louisville, Ohio St., Clemson, Washington, & Michigan. Now let’s compare that to the computer numbers. It just so happens the first three in my ranking are the only teams nationally with a top 10 offense and defense. Coincidence? I think not.
Data #3: Conference champions: There is still a good amount of football left to unfold before we can lock these in place but for right now all we can go off of is predictions. Alabama is in regardless and will most likely win their conference championship even with playing half the required guys on each side of the football, so they are locked in. In the B1G, I think it is likely that Wisconsin wins because I believe OSU will knock off Michigan and therefore send Penn St. to the title game. If Wisconsin does win, they will be a 2 loss conference champion. So do they get in? I personally don’t think so. They beat a LSU team that had a tough time at the beginning of the year as well as a Nebraska team that frankly is just not that good. Besides that? Nobody. They lost to both OSU and UM. What about the Pac-12 champion? I think that unless Washington wins out convincingly in their final 2 games and championship game they aren’t even discussion. I’ll put a Washington conference champion on the back-burner. ACC? Clemson should win out and assuming they run the table this will help assure them a playoff spot. Big 12? Forget about it.
Conclusion: Alabama and Clemson will lock themselves in as conference champions. Wisconsin is unlikely and Washington is probably not likely given I don’t believe they can win out.
Data #4: Head to head wins: Again, we are assuming Alabama is a lock. #1. Clemson vs. UofL winner. It doesn’t matter because I think Clemson assures themselves a spot if they win out. #2. Michigan/OSU winner. Again, I don’t think this matters because 1 of these teams will likely be in as well. Wisconsin lost to both Michigan and Ohio St. which yet again rules them out. Washington is not applicable.
The CFP Rankings as I see them:
- Ohio St.
– Alabama is a lock at #1.
– Ohio St. is winning and fairly convincingly. They pass the eye test and the numbers back them up. Their schedule hasn’t been incredibly difficult but they have (for the most part) handled who they were supposed to and their strength of schedule is better than Louisville’s.
– Here comes the tricky part. What dictated 3-6? Winning and losing. If team A. beats Alabama, Clemson, Louisville, and Ohio St. to start the year but loses their next 3 games to Rutgers, UCF, and Idaho, would you have them in your top 4? Absolutely not. Sure they won about as good of games as you possibly could, but RECENTLY they are playing terrible. That is an incredibly over-inflated example but it proves my point. Yes, Clemson, Michigan, and Washington have up to this point done really well, but they lost. Late in the season at that. If you don’t punish a team for losing when the games become even more important I am not convinced you have any clue what you are talking about. Are they out of the race? Of course not, but when you combine the recent losses with the eye test that is what we have to go on currently.
– As a side note, I too am of the belief that Lamar Jackson will be a deciding factor if a team such as Louisville and Washington are neck and neck come the final ranking.
My CFP rankings projected end of season poll:
- Ohio St.
** I see Ohio St. beating Michigan, Wisconsin winning the B1G, Clemson winning the ACC, and Washington losing 1 more game**
Feel free to comment and tell me why I am right/wrong. There is no “right” way of doing this, although common sense does tend to guide us in the right direction!
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