The CFP committee just released their first rankings of the season. Did they get it right or their other teams that deserve to be included?
The final stretch of the college football season is here and fans finally have their first look at where their teams stack up against the rest of the nation. On Tuesday night the College Football Playoff Committee released their initial rankings for their top-25.
First Rankings: Top 2️⃣5️⃣ pic.twitter.com/2nefOfDhyV— CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) October 31, 2017
Every week when the AP Poll comes out, certain fanbases are upset that they’re not ranked higher. The CFP rankings are no different, but now carry a lot more weight than the AP Poll, which brings a lot more anger from fans when their teams are left out. Before we dive into my initial reaction, we first need to understand what the CFP committee’s criteria for the rankings are.
While no conference champions have been crowned yet, the CFP committee ranks the teams not on record alone, but also who these teams have played and beaten. Do keep in mind that these criteria only come into play if two teams are seen as being equal in every other way. Now let’s take a look at my initial reaction to the CFP rankings.
Georgia No. 1 and Alabama No. 2
Every year Alabama is seen as the team to beat. They are the only team to compete in each playoff and have remained the top-ranked team all season. While the Tide are still undefeated (and ranked first in the AP Poll), their SEC counterparts in the East are the ones at the top of the poll that really matters. The Georgia Bulldogs have gone from unranked to start the year, but as of now are the team to beat.
Some may wonder how Alabama lost their top ranking while still staying unbeaten themselves. Strength of schedule already played is the primary reason. While ‘Bama has looked the part of one of the best teams in the country, Georgia has looked just as good and played better teams.
The Tide’s biggest win was against third-ranked Florida State in Week 1. Since then, the Seminoles have only won two games, which diminishes Alabama’s win. Meanwhile, Georgia has taken down now-third-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend, and also 16th-ranked Mississippi State. The SEC Championship is getting closer and closer to a clash between Alabama and Georgia, which will settle who’s truly better, but as of right now the committee got this ranking correct.
Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State Battling For Final Spot
In the BCS era, the debate raged on every year between the second- and third-ranked teams and who really should be in the national title game. The CFP took some of that debate out, but, like I’ve said on a number of occasions, the debate now comes down to the fourth, fifth, and even the sixth-ranked teams. This year is no different with Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State.
The Tigers own the rights to the fourth spot this week between these three one-loss teams. While Clemson easily has the worst loss of the group to 4-4 Syracuse, they still have a better resume than either Oklahoma or Ohio State. Yes, Ohio State just took down second-ranked Penn State, but Clemson has a 2-0 record against teams in the top-25 against Louisville and Virginia Tech. Oklahoma’s marquee win is against Ohio State, which the committee rewarded the Sooners with by placing them ahead of the Buckeyes.
CFP chairman said Clemson has 6 wins vs teams w/winning records, which was main reason. OU, tOSU can’t compare to that number right now.— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) November 1, 2017
The season is a long way from over and these three teams will separate themselves eventually. Clemson has yet another top-25 matchup this weekend when they visit No. 20 NC State. Oklahoma will also go on the road when they play rival Oklahoma State, who just so happen to be 11th in the country. The Sooners will also get another chance on the big stage the following week against eighth-ranked TCU. The Buckeyes only have Michigan State as a ranked opponent on the schedule, but the Spartans are hanging on by a thread at no. 24. For Ohio State to make another big statement they’ll most likely have to wait for a potential matchup against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
Wisconsin and Miami Ranked Too Low?
When ESPN revealed the committee’s top-10, the only thing that truly shocked me at first was the fact they had Wisconsin and Miami ranked ninth and 10th respectively. Both teams are undefeated and ranked behind six one-loss teams. This puts both the Badgers and Hurricanes as the lowest ranked undefeated teams, outside of unbeaten Group of Five contender UCF. After thinking about it some more, I think the committee got it right and it again goes back to strength of schedule played.
JON K BRENT (@jonkbrent) November 2, 2017
Wisconsin has the pleasure of playing in the worse of the two Big Ten divisions. That lets them avoid some of the bigger matchups against the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State. While that’s good for the Badgers in terms of allowing them to have an easy path to the Big Ten title, it doesn’t do them any good when it comes to rising in the CFP rankings. Wisconsin’s opponents have combined record of 29-37 and have not been ranked in the top-25 at any point this season. Their best wins have come against 5-3 Florida Atlantic and Northwestern. Michigan was supposed to be the one true test before a possible Big Ten championship game, but the Wolverines find themselves in the midst of an underwhelming 6-2 season that has left them unranked.
Miami’s schedule has been better than Wisconsin’s, but not by much. The Hurricanes’ opponents have a combined 26-30 record, and their resume is highlighted by a 52-30 win against Toledo. Against some of their lesser opponents, the ‘Canes have looked every bit an ACC contender, but have struggled against ACC opponents — and not the ones you’d expect. Over the last four games Miami has played FSU, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and North Carolina, and have come out with four wins, but each coming by only one possession. Unlike Wisconsin, the Hurricanes have the ability to prove their worth. Thirteenth-ranked Virginia Tech and No. 3 Notre Dame are the next two opponents on Miami’s schedule. If they can get through those tests undefeated, you can certainly expect them to be in the top-four.
The big question is: did the committee get it right? In my opinion, yes they did, based on the criteria given to them. I think Georgia has played well enough to earn the right as the best team in the country. Notre Dame has proven themselves time and time again since their one-point loss to the Bulldogs. Despite an ugly loss, with a 2-0 record against the top-25, Clemson has also earned the right to be in the top-four ahead of Oklahoma and Ohio State.
While fans will argue for their team until they’re blue in the face, everyone needs to remember this is just the first ranking of the year and things will change. The Big 12 isn’t sorted out and has four one-loss teams, and a lot of them still need to play each other. The ACC is still working itself out as well with the top five teams still clawing their way to the title game. So to all the fans mad about their team’s rankings, I say: relax. The season is far from over.
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