10 quick reactions and what we learned from the from the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings of 2020.
10. Yeah, it really is all about the top four in the College Football Playoff, and potentially the top 12 for the bigger bowls, but how much fun is this if you’re San Jose State?
Out of all the bad things going on in the world, and after all the down years by the big names, one of the toughest of all programs to win at is unbeaten, in the Mountain West Championship, and in the College Football Playoff Top 25 at No. 24.
9. The College Football Playoff committee sort of put itself in a bind when it comes to the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six spot.
If it really believes that Louisiana is 19 and Tulsa is 23, if Coastal Carolina destroys the Ragin’ Cajuns in the Sun Belt Championship, and Cincinnati struggles in any way in the AAC title game against the Golden Hurricane, the 11 Chanticleers need to move ahead of the 9 Bearcats, otherwise.
8. It doesn’t really matter, but Georgia probably deserves a little more love than the 8. There might not be an amazing win, but its losses were to Alabama and Florida away from home, JT Daniels wasn’t the starting quarterback yet, six of the last seven games have been away from Athens, and the team is playing really, really well.
7. I don’t think Cincinnati or Coastal Carolina or any Group of Five team deserves to be anywhere near the College Football Playoff – playing one good game isn’t the same as playing a weekly Power Five schedule – but it still totally and completely stinks that there’s NOTHING any of these teams can do to be in the top four.
I’m done honking about Iowa State – it’s playing really well – but if you’re unbeaten Coastal Carolina, and you’re the only team to beat the team – Louisiana – that beat the CFP 6 Cyclones in their house, and you’re ranked 12, you’re rightly ticked.
6. Very, very quietly, Indiana might be cemented into a New Year’s Six game. Oklahoma or Iowa State will lose in the Big 12 Championship, the committee almost certainly won’t put two Group of Five programs – Coastal Carolina and Cincinnati – in, and Northwestern at 14 likely won’t beat Ohio State to take a second spot for the Big Ten.
5. Relax when it comes to USC at 13. It only moved up two spots, and no, there’s no reason to give 5-0 Ohio State any more credit at No. 4 than the 5-0 Trojans are receiving, but remember – it’s all about winning the Power Five conference championships. Also, what do we know about the College Football Playoff committee? It loves bright shiny objects. What does that mean?
USC – when it comes to the committee – is probably coming into the Pac-12 Championship down 30. It has to annihilate the Ducks. Which leads to …
4. Enough. We have GOT to eliminate the concept of the eye test. Anyone who uses those words when analyzing college football teams can’t properly verbalize why some team is ranked as high as it is.
Analysts say “eye test” as a crutch because it doesn’t mean anything. The eye test is almost always an excuse for a bad resumé.
3. Freaking out that your team is close to the top four and not in? Let me try to help. In the first seven years of the College Football Playoff rankings, only one time – 2016 with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington – were the top four in the penultimate rankings. In five of the other six years, a team ranked 5th-8th got in.
Auburn in 2017 was the only No. 2 from the penultimate rankings to get knocked out, and TCU in 2014 – despite obliterating Iowa State – was the only No. 3 to get shoved aside.
2. Why are we just assuming Texas A&M is only the fifth-best team?
Yeah, Clemson didn’t have Trevor Lawrence and it still almost beat Notre Dame on the road – there’s no real argument against the Tigers – but Texas A&M lost a game on the road to Alabama. That’s it.
The argument could be made that Clemson doesn’t have a win as good as A&M’s win over Florida – but this isn’t an anti-Clemson argument. A&M getting trucked by Bama 52-24, and no one wanting to see a rematch in the College Football Playoff, isn’t a reason to potentially leave it out of the top four.
1. This is actually going to be a lot more boring than we’re making it out to be.
Ohio State almost certainly isn’t losing to Northwestern. The committee has been hell-bent on making sure this team is in, and that’s not about to change.
Alabama is in no matter what. Florida could dominate in a win and the Crimson Tide would still have one of the four best resumés.
The ACC Championship winner is in, and if it’s Clemson by 10ish or fewer, there’s no real argument and there we go.
Alabama vs. Notre Dame in the Sugar, and Clemson vs. Ohio State in the Rose.
Any variance on that gets Texas A&M in ahead of a two-loss Big 12 champ, and while the idea of USC would be fun … nah. Too big a leap at this point.
But that’s why they play the games – and wait until Sunday for the rankings that matter.