Week 10 brought about the inconsistencies of The College Football Playoff Committee. Oregon and Ohio State jumped up a spot with the loss of MSU, but MSU who did beat Michigan still fell behind the Wolverines in the playoff rankings. Another interesting development was Cincinnati barely surviving Tulsa, but moving ahead a spot and staying above Michigan and the aforementioned Michigan State. Inconsistency from the Playoff Committee will be something to monitor as the season goes on. Is the Committee inconsistent enough to break the precedent and finally rank Cincinnati in the top 4? Lots of things to watch for as the season continues to roll into the double digit weeks.
Purdue is NOT a legit threat to top 5/10 teams
Yes, the Boilers are ranked as we speak. Yes, the Boilers also beat two top 5 teams this season, one on the road and one at home. And yes, the Boilers are deserving of the ranking they have been given. However, let’s take a further look into the top 5 teams they have beaten and then the weeks that followed. After the Boilermakers handed Iowa a 24-7 thrashing on the road they responded with a 30-13 blowout loss of their own to Wisconsin. The Badgers are also now ranked by the committee a spot ahead of the Boilers (More on that later). Last week Purdue handled a Michigan State team ranked 3rd by the committee relatively easily coming away with a 11 point home victory over the Spartans. This week comes by far their greatest challenge yet as they travel to “The Horseshoe” to take on the Buckeyes. Ohio State offensively is flat out better than the Boilermakers. In both of Purdue’s top 5 wins they didn’t do anything special defensively, they just won the game by outpacing their opponent on the scoreboard. Purdue’s defense based on average field position (70.2 yds away from endzone) is expected to give up -1.4 points. What they end up doing however is giving up 3.1 points per opportunity on average. Ohio State defensively isn’t great and that has been known all season. However, their offense, which is ranked 4th overall in EPA/play, against a defense that continues to underperform the expectation is a recipe for a quick disaster for the Boilermakers. While Ohio State’s defense isn’t great it will get a few stops. This means that Purdue can’t score every possession. Against Purdue’s defense, I am not sure the same can be said for the Buckeyes.
Overreaction: Ohio State puts Purdue away relatively early and wins by multiple scores. Purdue is a top 25 team due to their offense, but their defense limits them against TRUE top 5/10 teams.
Alabama is at 2 again, for now
ICYMI, the Tide struggled mightily against an LSU team that, while talented, is fairly undisciplined and is 4-5. Surviving LSU and only putting up 20 points against a defense giving up 4.1 points per opportunity is not ideal. Especially when your offense had 12 possessions (opportunities), based on averages Alabama should have put up roughly 49 points on offense, 49.2 if we’re getting technical. That’s not where the problems stop, the Tide managed 6 total rushing yards against an LSU defense ranking 89th in EPA/Rush. Peeking down the road on Alabama’s schedule one could see that a road trip to Auburn is on the horizon. Auburn’s defense ranks 42nd in EPA/rush currently and seemingly could give the Tide trouble as they have struggled mightily on the road already this season (See Texas A&M). If Alabama does stumble at the hands of Auburn and Texas A&M runs the table, which is very possible if they survive this Saturday against Ole Miss, the Tide won’t even make the conference title game. In Alabama’s case a 2 loss team with no conference title will almost certainly equal no Playoff appearance. It would however, be the second time this has happened to the Crimson Tide in just three years. Has the one of the greatest college football coaches ever begun to lose his touch?
Overreaction: Alabama is out. Regardless if they do stumble or not, it appears Georgia is head and shoulders above everyone else in the College Football world this year. Surely, Georgia would end the Tide’s hopes if they get there. But will they get there?
Wake Forest is Out, Cincinnati has a worse shot than… Texas A&M?
Crazy, I know, but hear me out. The Committee has already shown that Cincinnati still has work to do to get into the playoff and close wins against Tulsa and Navy certainly aren’t going to do them any favors. Especially when two direct competitors in Michigan and Ohio State, who beat a common opponent in Indiana relatively easily, while it took the Bearcats a while to put away the Hoosiers. Texas A&M on the other hand plays into the unpredictability of the committee. The committee played reference to the fact that while Oregon’s loss to an unranked team (Stanford) was worse than Ohio State’s loss to a ranked team. (Oregon) The Ducks lost early in the season and had time to play themselves back ahead of the Buckeyes before the rankings came out. A&M had two early season losses, but beat Alabama (ranked 1st at the time), Auburn, and has a chance to beat another top 15 team this weekend in Ole Miss. Obviously the Aggies need help and some teams to lose in front of them. Let’s say for fun that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State split their games (1 in regular season and 1 in Big 12 Championship) and that Alabama loses to Auburn. This would allow A&M to get into the SEC Title game and for even more fun in this hypothetical let’s say the Aggies beat Georgia. This would give them two wins over teams ranked #1 in the nation and a conference championship. Obviously, Georgia would likely still get into the Playoff, the Big Ten would likely have a team (Michigan/Michigan State/OSU), and Oregon would slide in as well. Who would object to having a 2 loss Texas A&M team roll into the playoff, arguably the most dangerous team in the country if they manage to pull it off. Based on the unpredictability of the committee I think they would rank a two loss SEC champion ahead of Cincinnati. What are the odds that A&M would finish 5th two years in a row?
Overreaction: Texas A&M needs a lot to happen in their favor, but if everything falls this way then it’s hard to see Cincinnati getting in over them.