CFP Five Thoughts: 1. College Football Playoff Criteria & What We've Learned

CFP Five Thoughts: 1. College Football Playoff Criteria & What We've Learned

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CFP Five Thoughts: 1. College Football Playoff Criteria & What We've Learned

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CFP Five Thoughts: 1. College Football Playoff Criteria & What We’ve Learned


In the first three years in the College Football Playoff era, what have we learned and how does it apply to this season?



5 Thoughts: CFP Edition

2. The Current CFP Pecking Order
3. Is Wisconsin Any Good?
4. Can A Two-Loss Auburn Get In?
5. Experts Pick The First CFP Top 4
Jim McElwain Fired: 5 Possible Florida Replacements
– College Football Playoff Tuesday Night Projection
Week 9 Roundup

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Now that we’re three years into this thing, the College Football Playoff committee has a track record.

It’s not like this is a court ruling when the CFPers pick four teams – there’s no set precedent that becomes the rule of law to go by. But even with the changing of some members and a committee chair, this group needs to be held accountable for its consistency.

It’s a playoff based on judging and opinion – the committee can pick any four teams it wants to. But at the very least, the first three seasons have given us a blueprint of expectations.

Here’s the deal, College Football Playoff committee. You do what you do – yeah, yeah, the four best teams get in – but credibility-wise, you need to stick to what you’ve done.

So what have we learned so far?

Go unbeaten in your Power Five conference, and you’re in. 

As crazy as this sounds when it comes to an unbeaten defending national champion, Florida State wasn’t all that great in 2014 – at least compared to 2013. But it was the lone Power Five unbeaten, so it had to get into the top four – and it did at No. 3.

In 2015, Clemson was the no-brainer No. 1 in the end as the only unbeaten Power Fiver, and Alabama was the only P5 team without a gaffe last year.

Yes, like it or not, Alabama, Georgia, Miami and Wisconsin control their own destinies. If any of them go 13-0, in. Done.

Win your Power Five championship at 12-1, and you’re almost certainly in. 

2014 was a bit of a historical aberration with not just all five Power Five champs with one loss or better, but with a second Big 12 team in the mix, too.

In the end, the CFP kinda, sorta, yada yada yada explained that TCU dropped from third to a final-ranking sixth – despite destroying Iowa State 55-3 – because it lost to Baylor and wasn’t the “one true champion,” and left Baylor out because it lost to TCU.

But someone had to be without a chair when the music stopped, and in the end, it was hard to argue with Alabama, Oregon, FSU and Ohio State.

2015: Four Power Five one-loss-or-unbeaten champs – Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma – and 11-2 Stanford was out.

2016: Almost the same deal, with a twist. Alabama, Clemson and Washington all fit the criteria, but Oklahoma and Penn State each had two losses, and Ohio State had one, but didn’t win its own division. However, it beat the Sooners and got by Michigan – the resume was strong enough, and it had one loss.

Did it matter that Washington beat almost no one with a pulse? In the end, not really. So that means Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Clemson, Penn State, Oklahoma, Miami, TCU, Oklahoma State, Washington, and Virginia Tech are all still alive.

Notre Dame falls under a different category, but everyone else …

Two-Loss Power Five champion? Nope. 

Again, CFP committee, you can’t backtrack on this.

If two-loss Penn State didn’t get in last season after beating Ohio State and winning what – by most subjective and objective measurements – was the best conference in the country, then no, you can’t put in a two-loss team now if there’s another one-loss or unbeaten champion.

Penn State absolutely deserved to be in over Ohio State last season, and it would’ve been if it had played a cupcake instead of losing to Pitt early on. The same goes for Stanford, who would’ve been in over Oklahoma in 2015 – beat Notre Dame, who beat Texas, who beat OU – if it had played Little Sisters of the Poor Tech instead of opening against Northwestern.

Sorry, two loss teams. But either you need a whole lot of help – meaning there can’t be four unbeaten or one-loss champs and/or a one-loss Notre Dame – or you’re out.

Here’s what we don’t know about the College Football Playoff criteria …

We have yet to have a juggernaut lose its conference championship to a two-loss team and get in.

Let’s say the ACC Atlantic implodes and a two-loss Clemson faces an unbeaten Miami in the conference title game. What happens to the Canes if they lose?

We also haven’t been challenged on a Group of Five team. Western Michigan’s schedule last year wasn’t good enough, and neither is UCF’s this season. However, had Houston run the table last year -with wins over eventual Big 12 champ Oklahoma, along with Louisville – it would’ve been an entertaining argument.

And we still don’t know what the committee will do with Notre Dame, especially compared to a one-loss Power Five champ.

This is speculation, but again, assume an unbeaten P5 champ is in no matter what. But what if Georgia wins the SEC and the Irish are 11-1. Are they in over Alabama? A one-loss Pac-12 champ? That’s unchartered territory, but it was a close call two years ago.

Call it the Conrad Ukropina effect.

Had the Stanford kicker not hit a 45-yard field goal at the buzzer to beat DeShone Kizer and Notre Dame at the end of the 2015 regular season, the Irish – whose lone loss was on the road by two to eventual CFP No. 1 and unbeaten Clemson – would’ve been in over Oklahoma.

So here we go. The fourth year is upon us. Don’t forget how you’d handled this, committee.

5 Thoughts: CFP Edition

2. The Current CFP Pecking Order
3. Is Wisconsin Any Good?
4. Can A Two-Loss Auburn Get In?
5. Experts Pick The First CFP Top 4
Jim McElwain Fired: 5 Possible Florida Replacements
– College Football Playoff Tuesday Night Projection
Week 9 Roundup

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