Some Boring Thoughts on the Upcoming College Football Playoffs


Look, I’m just being honest. A few thoughts on the upcoming College Football Playoffs:

Click to expand.

Click to expand.

  1. This is a huge step forward from the BCS model. Huge. As I’ve said before, if you have 129 teams and they each play about 13 games, you can’t possibly have enough interaction to narrow the playoff field to 2 teams. 4 teams is 100% better (literally and figuratively) than 2 teams for a field of this size.
  2. I’m not a fan of committees, but I think this committee did the best best possible job with the setup. They chose the top 4 conference champions for the 4 spots.  I LOVE Baylor and TCU. I root for them every week they don’t play Texas. But TCU was not a conference champion–which is why they didn’t get bumped up after the championship games–and I don’t think Baylor really has a case against any of the 4 teams that are in. Of course, if Baylor DID look stronger, then there would be some controversy.
  3. I love the idea of using prestigious bowl games to host semifinals. I’ve pushed for it at least as far back as 2009. The only thing that would be better is if they games were played on college campuses. Hopefully, if/when they move to 8 teams, they’ll put the quarterfinals on campus.

My ratings are even more boring than usual. If I were slotting the 6 big bowl games, my ratings would have chosen the exact same 12 teams that the committee chose. The only thing I really have to add here is that it would have been nice to see these 4 quarterfinal games on December 20:

#11 Boise State at #1 Florida State in Tallahassee
#7 Baylor at #2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa
#6 UCLA at #3 Oregon in Eugene
#5 TCU at #4 Ohio State in Columbus

I would include the losers of those quarterfinals  in the “New Year’s Six,” as ESPN is calling those 6 bowl games. But yeah, same 12 teams.

I think these ratings have outlived their usefulness. The whole point is to provide a sunnier alternative to an unsatisfying college football playoff system, but I think this is already much more satisfying than the model of the last decade and a half. The AI ratings have grown out of existence.

I’ll see you next year, or maybe not!


One Sided Championship Games – Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, and Ohio State

The weird thing about the conference championships this weekend is that only one team in each game has a strong opportunity to continue on to the real championship, which you get to by going through the College Football Playoffs.

If #10 Missouri (all rankings my own) wins the SEC championship, they will go to a consolation game, and it won’t even be the SEC-tied Sugar Bowl, since that’s a playoff game this year. Yet somehow, Mississippi State, which didn’t even win its own division, could get in.

If #8 Georgia Tech wins the ACC championship, they’ll go to the Orange Bowl, and their season will end there. And, if Florida State wins and goes undefeated, they might not even make the playoff! Look, I’m no Florida State fan, but let a team lose before you end their season. Their schedule wasn’t that soft.

If #5 Arizona wins the PAC-12 championship, they have a 37% chance of making the playoff, according to Nate Silver’s projections. By the way, that’s lower than the projected chance of Alabama making it in if they lose their championship game. Equal number of losses, I get it–but it’s a championship game, which is supposed to be a chance to move on.

If #4 Ohio State wins, they have a 60% chance of making the playoff, according to Silver. And #14 Wisconsin has no chance whatsoever, even though they would have

And of course, in the Big 12, there’s Two “One True Champion”ses.

I really enjoy watching college football, including the championship games. The College Football Playoff is a step in the right direction. I’m excited to watch the playoff games on January 1. But I would love to see a system where teams qualify in a transparent manner. A 4-team playoff is not enough when you have 129 teams playing 12 games each. And there should be no subjective opinion. For goodness’ sake Baylor hired a PR firm to lobby for its team. Simplify the system so teams know what they have to do to get in. Don’t make it about brand names and PR firms.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 9.26.59 AMHey Marshall, you had your chance.




Here are the Teams that Control Their Own Season

Here are the teams that currently kind of control their path to the championship:

  • Alabama
  • Florida State

Great list, right? No one else is included because every other team has the possibility of winning the rest of their games but not being included in the playoff. If Oregon barely wins their next two games, they could get leapfrogged. Baylor and Ohio State could win out and still not make it in. In fact, they probably won’t, unless teams in the top 4 lose. Weird, right? They could be conference champs in major conferences, and have their spot taken by a team that is not even first place in their division. So yeah.

Here’s why we need an 8-team playoff with no selection committee: any of the following teams in my top 20 could be a conference champion at this point, and therefore still make an 8-team playoff (teams with a ^ would need help from other teams). 

  • #1 Florida St.
  • #2 Alabama
  • #3 Oregon
  • #4 UCLA
  • #5 Mississippi St^
  • #6 Ohio State
  • #7 Marshall
  • #8 Arizona^
  • #9 Arizona State^
  • #10 Georgia^
  • #12 TCU^
  • #14 Georgia Tech
  • #15 Missouri^
  • #16 Colorado St.
  • #17 Boise St.
  • #18 Baylor
  • #19 Wisconsin

11 teams would control their own season, whereas only 2 teams do so right now. Seems like it could be better.

Lastly, could we just bring back the A&M/Texas game already? Sheesh.

I’m trying something different this week. Here are the rounded scores for the top 20 teams. I think a rounded score gives a better idea of where a team is at. If two teams have the same score, know that they are ranked by decimal points.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 3.12.54 PM
Lastly, could we just bring back the A&M/Texas game already? Sheesh.




Ole Miss is Still the 2nd Best Team in the Country

At least according to these ratings. I still have them ahead of Auburn and Alabama, which surprised me, but Ole Miss does have a better strength of schedule to this point. Think about it: just because a team lost more recently, does that mean they should move behind another team with the same record? It’s simple to do but it’s not necessarily the logical thing to do.

8-Team Playoff, if the season ended today (Games on Dec. 20)
#19 Colorado St. (8) @ #1 Miss St. (1) in Starkville
#14 Nebraska (7) @ #3 Florida St. (2) in Tallahassee
#4 Auburn (6) @ #6 Oregon (3) in Eugene
#2 Ole Miss (5) @ #13 Marshall (4) in Huntington, WV

4-Team Playoff, if the season ended today
#6 Oregon (4) vs. #1 Miss St. (1) in the Sugar Bowl
#2 Ole Miss (3) @ #3 Florida St. (2) in the Rose Bowl

Screenshot 2014-10-29 12.17.46





Image from The Big Lead.

College Football Week 8 – AI Score

(Top image from The Big Lead)

Yahoo! writer Dan Wetzel has been posting something like this tweet every Saturday:

Saturdays in the fall are as glorious as ever, even with 4 teams getting in. The best thing about it is that today, on October 21, more teams than last year at this point can say “we control our own destiny.” If only 2 teams made the playoff, then the only teams that would truly have control over their chance to win the championship at this point would be Florida State and the two teams from Mississippi. While that’s not a bad thing (every team in the top 5 conferences had a chance to win it at the start of the season), I’m sure we can agree that there are plenty of 1-loss teams that deserve to be in the hunt at this point, not to mention a team like Marshall (I know, weak SOS) that hasn’t lost a game yet. It doesn’t dilute the chase because there are so many teams and so few games to be played against each other. They can’t possibly have every team play every other one.

Here are my If-The-Season-Ended-Today playoff brackets (seeding process here):

8-Team Playoff (Quarterfinals on Dec 20)
#15 Nebraska (8) @ #1 Ole Miss (1) in Oxford
#11 TCU (7) @ #3 Florida St. (2) in Tallahassee
#4 Alabama (6) @ #8 Oregon (3) in Eugene
#2 Miss St. (5) @ #9 Marshall (4) in Huntington, WV

4-Team Playoff
#8 Oregon (4) vs.  #1 Ole Miss (1) in the Sugar Bowl
#2 Miss St. (3)  vs. #3 Florida St. (2) in the Rose Bowl

Screenshot 2014-10-21 11.47.20


Image from The Big Lead.

Image from The Big Lead.