College Football Playoff Rankings Focuses on Quality Wins over Win-Loss Records
Originally by Ryan Wright November 2, 2016
The collective think tank brought together under the label College Football Playoff Selection Committee has had a rolling group opinion of what is important for each team to achieve to be ranked on their all-too important poll over the past two seasons. The committee gets the final say on who makes the playoff sending a clear message Tuesday night that quality wins counts as much if not more than a win-loss record in their third season in charge. A message Washington Huskies fans are none-too happy to receive.
Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt stood strong by the group’s stance that wins over teams with a .500 or better record was what impressed them most versus an unblemished record. This was the explanation put forth for the first debatable revelation in the rankings. Hocutt explained, “Simply stating, the committee, in our mind, believes that Texas A&M has played a stronger schedule at this point in time of the season over Washington.” Hocutt added, “Texas A&M has got four wins against teams that are better records than .500 compared to Washington only having two wins against teams that have .500 or better records.”
The rankings opened up without little controversy naming Associated Press No. 1 Alabama at the top of the playoff rankings but instead of following suit with the AP at No. 2 they swapped in Clemson for Michigan placing the Wolverines at No. 3. Texas A&M jumped from their No. 7 AP spot to No. 4 displacing Washington out of the playoff if the end of season tournament were to begin today. The Aggies have one loss, to Alabama, but Washington has cruised to an 8-0 mark with wins over Stanford and Utah. Non-conference games against Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State have not helped the Huskies’ cause.
The good news for all of the teams on the outside looking in, there are five weeks left in the regular season with conference championship left to be played. Losses are bound to happen. Even if the Top 4 went undefeated the rest of the way, Texas A&M would not make the SEC Championship Game in favor of Alabama leaving room for Washington to leapfrog into the final four with a Pac-12 Championship Game victory.
No. 7 Ohio State can help their cause with an end of season home win over Michigan on Nov. 26. Nebraska can push forward with a road win over the Buckeyes this weekend. No. 9 Auburn can make a claim to be in the final four going undefeated with an Iron Bowl win over Alabama to end their season. No. 11 Florida has a tough stretch of games remaining but with one loss could find their way to the dance going undefeated and a win in the SEC Championship Game.
A big message was once again sent to the Big 12 by the selection committee. The highest rated Big 12 team was two-loss Oklahoma. The Sooners came in at No. 14 with a lot of ground to cover if the Big 12 wants to final crack the playoff. One-loss Baylor was placed at No. 17.
Out of the Group of Five teams, Boise State was looking like a strong candidate to push for playoff recognition but a 30-28 road loss to Wyoming over the weekend fractured that opportunity. The committee buried the Broncos at No. 24 despite two wins over Pac-12 teams Washington State and Oregon State. Western Michigan remains the only unbeaten Group of Five team sitting at 9-0, 5-0 in the Mid-American. The Broncos could make a fuss of their own regarding their ranking with wins over Northwestern (22-21) and Illinois (34-10). The Broncos have three regular season games remaining against Kent State, Buffalo, and Toledo.
Perhaps the strongest message sent, the SEC and Big Ten are perceived to be the top two football conferences this season. Three SEC teams are in the Top 10 with two in the would-be final four. The Big Ten has four teams in the Top 10.
First College Football Playoff Committee Rankings of 2016
Photo credit: saturdayblitz.com; No. 8 Trevor Knight scores a touchdown for A&M vs. UCLA.