The latest College Football Playoff rankings came out, and football media got all worked up because these venerable sports writers disagreed with the rankings. And, there were some valid complaints, but there’s also a fair amount of unnecessary angst. You can view the full rankings here, but from what we read, here were the top three complaints, and our response:
- Florida wasn’t penalized enough. After losing to a 3-5 team, at home, because of a thrown shoe, everyone assumed the Gators would take a big drop and potentially open the door for Cincinnati, or someone that doesn’t have two losses. And, you know, they have a point. Florida has played three teams with winning records all year, winning two of them, the most impressive being a Georgia team that everyone believes is vastly overrated. The SEC is living off reputation, and not actual results. If only they could have scheduled a slew of FCS teams to bolster their records. The real intrigue comes when Florida loses by 3 touchdowns to Alabama.
- Importance of actually playing games. Cincinnati, undefeated and ranked 8th going into last weekend, had their game vs. Tulsa canceled due to COVID issues. They dropped one spot, while Ohio State, who hasn’t played since December 5th. The Buckeyes brand is powerful, and they are the reason the Big Ten played football this fall. Sorry Trump. Ohio State has played 5 games, 4 against teams with losing records and the one game against a good team they jumped out to a big lead and almost gave it all away. When CFP Chair Gary Barta said that they dropped Cincy for not playing, it opened them up to plenty of criticism. We have no issue with a team falling because another team played a game and with that additional data point, their resume improved. That’s good. The problem is when that only applies to some teams and not all teams. Had Florida beaten LSU, would they have moved ahead of Ohio State?
- The overvaluing of the Big 12. This could also apply to the SEC, but Iowa State being ranked 6th at 8-2 has caused some pleated khakis to get in a bunch. And again, the complaints are justified. Iowa State has wins over Oklahoma and Texas, which ordinarily would be headlining a resume. This year, those programs aren’t as good as usual but maintain high rankings based purely on brand name alone. Iowa State also has losses to Oklahoma State and Louisiana. Candidly, Louisiana might be the best team we’ve mentioned in this entire paragraph. Nevertheless, Iowa State has a chance to beat Oklahoma again this week and potentially leap into the playoff. Despite, you know, maybe not being that good.
Ultimately, what the college football writers really want is more teams to have access to the playoff. They also all thought that the craziness of 2020 would be the year that someone, anyone finally broke the glass ceiling of the Power 5 and earn the opportunity to play for the FBS national championship. Sadly, the exact opposite happened, and deserving teams like Cincy and Coastal Carolina are left out despite more impressive seasons.
So, what’s going to prevent Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State from making the playoff. Apparently, the only way we get some intrigue on “Selection Sunday” is if Clemson and Ohio State lose. Alabama and Notre Dame appear to be locks regardless of what happens, but with Florida’s loss to LSU, all of a sudden, a loss to the Gators isn’t as forgivable.
The other fascinating, and very real, option would be COVID issues in any of these programs that prevents them from playing in their final game. Sources tell us that there was a Twitter post that claimed there are COVID issues around Columbus, Ohio but there’s a distinct possibility that twitter user @mgoblueyah may not have totally accurate information.
Regardless, let’s take a quick look at each of the games of importance this weekend and make some picks:
SEC Championship – Alabama vs. Florida
We can come up with all sorts of hypothetical situations, but the reality is Bama will win, Florida will lose and the Gators ranking on December 15 won’t be an issue.
ACC Championship – Clemson vs. Notre Dame
The second-most anticipated game of the day is a rematch of a classic double overtime game from earlier this year, which Notre Dame prevailed. Of course, Trevor Lawrence didn’t play in that one, but it was the Clemson defense that really struggled. Perhaps the power of Lawrence’s presence and magnificent flowing locks will improve the Tigers defense, but for some reason that doesn’t make any sense. Clemson is a regular in this game, while Notre Dame is playing in its first conference game in the history of its storied football program. Unless they get scared by the giant Panther statue outside Bank of America Stadium, we don’t think they’ll be overwhelmed with the moment. Irish win.
Big Ten Championship – Ohio State vs. Northwestern
For all the complaining about Ohio State only playing five games, four of which were against bad teams, we fully expect the Evil Empire to come out and destroy Northwestern. Not that beating Northwestern is particularly impressive or would change our opinion that the Buckeyes should be left out of the playoff. Now, if there are actually issues with COVID inside the Buckeyes program, it gets very interesting in the evaluation of them as a playoff team. Due to Big Ten protocols, anyone that tested positive this week would not be available in a potential semifinal game. So, hypothetically, if Justin Fields tests positive and is unavailable, how do you justify picking the Buckeyes even if they beat Northwestern?
Pac 12 Championship – USC vs. Oregon
The Pac 12, which started its season last, has a whole slew of COVID issues to deal with. From some schools being in states or counties that won’t allow contact sports, to just a bunch of teams that aren’t that good, they have been totally irrelevant throughout this season. How irrelevant are they? USC – the great football power of the West is undefeated and not even remotely in the discussion for the playoff. Their opponent in the championship game has consecutive losses to teams with a combined 3-7 record. Quack, Quack. Ducks win and ends the misery of a season that the league was peer pressured into playing.
AAC Championship Game – Tulsa vs. Cincinnati
These teams were scheduled to meet last week, but COVID, and perhaps a little bit of actual common sense led to a cancellation, considering both teams had already clinched their spot in the rankings. If Cincy wins, it gives them another win over a ranked team to add to the resume. Not that it will help because it appears the powers that be already decided Cincy is good, but not that good. A Tulsa win, on the other hand, proves unequivocally that Cincy is clearly terrible and should just keep their mouths shut about playing against real teams. And yes, that sentence was written with our tongue planted firmly in our cheek. We’re picking Cincy to win because we want whatever scenario helps push the world of FBS football to expand the playoff and because we didn’t actually realize Tulsa played in the AAC or was ranked until about ten minutes ago.
Sun Belt Championship – Louisiana vs. Coastal Carolina
With great sadness, we regret to inform you that this game has been canceled. COVID strikes again, and what was going to be the best game of the weekend is no longer. Granted, these teams already played once, and Coastal won. Which, if mathematical properties apply, means that Coastal, with its undefeated record and wins over multiple ranked teams should probably be ranked ahead of Iowa State, by virtue of the transitive property. And by virtue of playing good teams and beating them. Coastal, by the way, was criticized by the committee chair for winning a close game against a sub-500 team, on the road. What about losing to a sub-500 team, at home? Should that be something you are criticized for?
In the time since we wrote the Notre Dame section of this post, Brian Kelly held an interview during which he stated that he would consider not playing in the CFP if families are not allowed to attend the game. Listen, we realize that it’s totally normal for public figures to always fill the airwaves with blatant lies, but the college football playoffs are way more important and require a much more serious discourse than silly things like elections.
Anyway, stay safe and enjoy some football from the comfort of your own living room with no one else in sight. Except your in-laws. Invite them in and let them stay for as long as they like. It’ll be great.