The committee released the latest College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night, and to be blunt, it doesn’t make any sense.
The committee clearly understands the strength of the Big 12. Five Big 12 teams were named to the rankings. That’s half of the conference when the conference plays a round-robin schedule. That’s brutal.
College Football Playoff Rankings
- LSU Tigers (9-0) ↑1
- Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0) ↓1
- Clemson Tigers (10-0) ↑2
- Georgia Bulldogs (8-1) ↑2
- Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1) ↓2
- Oregon Ducks (8-1) ↑1
- Utah Utes (8-1) ↑1
- Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-0) ↑9
- Penn State Nittany Lions (8-1) ↓5
- Oklahoma Sooners (8-1) ↓1
- Florida Gators (8-2) ↓1
- Auburn Tigers (7-2) ↓1
- Baylor Bears (9-0) ↓1
- Wisconsin Badgers (7-2) ↓1
- Michigan Wolverines (7-2) ↓1
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2) ↓1
- Cincinnati Bearcats (8-1) ↑3
- Memphis Tigers (8-1) ↑3
- Texas Longhorns (6-3) NEW
- Iowa Hawkeyes (6-3) ↓2
- Boise State Broncos (8-1) ↑1
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-3) ↑1
- Navy Midshipmen (7-1) ↑1
- Kansas State Wildcats (6-3) ↓8
- Appalachian State Mountaineers (8-1) NEW
So, why isn’t the strength of the conference being rewarded at the top?
Oklahoma (10) and Baylor (13) both dropped a spot from last week as they were leap-frogged by Minnesota (8). Penn State also remains ahead of the Big 12 despite the loss to the Golden Gophers.
And then there is Alabama (5). The Tide were soundly defeated on their home turf, but remain knocking on the door of the coveted top four spots. You can make the argument that Alabama is overrated when you look at just this year. Truth be told though, I at least understand Alabama Clemson getting the benefit of the doubt since the two schools have split the last four National Titles.
What I don’t understand is why Pac-12 schools Oregon (6) and Utah (7) also have a sizable lead on the Sooners and the Bears.
Of the Pac-12’s 14 teams, only Oregon and Utah are ranked. So why is it that the committee has half of the Big 12 ranked — not to mention teams like TCU and Iowa State that have been ranked in the AP Poll throughout the season, and would presumably be in the discussion somewhere — but in the same breath seem to be saying the Big 12 is a decided fifth in the Power 5 conference rankings.
What has Oregon done to be head and shoulders ahead of Oklahoma or Baylor? Their best win is a loss to Auburn (11). That’s it. The only other game you can point to is barely beating a 25th-ranked-at-the-time Washington. Meanwhile, Baylor is seven spots behind Oregon, but is undefeated with convincing wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State who are both currently ranked by the very same committee.
What are we even doing when a loss matters more than two wins?
I’m not saying that a “good” loss is not without merit. However, it should be substantiated with other wins somewhere. There has to be something to substantiate that while a team lost, we believe they are a quality team and here is why. And it can’t simply be an eyeball test against cupcake schools. Otherwise, there are a lot of teams out there that would lose to Auburn, but look good against lesser competition.
For example, let’s look to a former Big 12 member. Why not rank 3-loss Texas A&M in the top-10? They have a very similar loss to Auburn, and their other two losses are to Clemson and Alabama. Yet Texas A&M cannot be found in the top-10. They can’t even be found in the top-25.
So, why is it that the Aggies, who have only lost to top-10 teams, aren’t ranked when four other 3-loss teams are ranked? Texas (19), Iowa (20), Oklahoma State (22) and Kansas State (24) each have three losses and find themselves in the top 25.
The answer is because those other teams have wins to help their resume. You can’t only have “good” losses and expect that to count. Especially as these quality losses seem to benefit some teams but not others.
The Sooners were rolling before a loss to Kansas State. But now, that loss seems to have knocked them from contention. Why? The Wildcats are currently ranked. It’s definitely not a bad loss, and they have a win over ranked Texas and a win over UCLA, who is third in their division in the Pac-12.
Meanwhile, Utah is very much in contention despite their loss to 4-loss USC, who is just one spot ahead of UCLA in the division. Utah’s best win is against 17th-ranked-at-the-time Arizona State. However, with four losses, the Sun Devils are no longer ranked, and are behind UCLA in the division.
And then there is Baylor, who is UNDEFEATED with two wins against current top-25 teams, but is behind all of them in the CFB Playoff rankings.
It doesn’t make any sense. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers other than we have to rein in the quality loss argument. The only time it should be used is if you are comparing teams with similar wins. Wins have to come before losses. Otherwise, what is the point of even playing the games?