5. No, it’s not “slide on up” for Cincinnati
No, the College Football Playoff rankings don’t work this way. It’s not as easy as team loses, slides down, team wins, slides up. It went that way this week, and it might next week, too. Yeah, Cincinnati might be in the top four and could be as high as 3 in the process, and then … yoink.
If there are four viable Power Five conference teams – whether they’re unbeaten or one-loss champions, or if Alabama and Georgia are both 12-1 – Cincinnati could get knocked out. It still needs a whole lot of help no matter what, and it certainly could happen with what’s coming up for all the other top-ranked teams.
4. If Michigan and Michigan State did that, why not Ohio State over Oregon?
Here’s where this gets interesting. The committee can try to explain it away all it wants, but Michigan over Michigan State was a big call – more on that in a moment. Okay, so if the head-to-head thing can be blown off one week later, how is Oregon still ranked ahead of Ohio State?
The Stanford loss – while a total choke by the Ducks with a slew of surrounding circumstances – looks totally awful now, and it’s not like Oregon is burning it up on a weekly basis.
No, the Nebraska win wasn’t anything special, but Ohio State got the road win, it beat Penn State, and obliterated all the bad teams in its path for a five-game stretch after losing to the Ducks.
3. Michigan ranked over Michigan State? Okay …
Here’s why Michigan State fans should be in a snit.
The committee got the process right in a whole slew of ways. With a few other variables thrown in, San Diego State beat Utah – Aztecs ranked higher than the Utes. 18 Wisconsin beat 19 Purdue and 20 Iowa and Purdue beat Iowa. 13 Baylor beat 14 BYU. 3 Oregon beat 4 Ohio State.
For the most part – the Notre Dame ranking aside – the committee got this right in a Respect The Results sort of way, and then it blew it all off by putting Michigan ahead of Michigan State. It’s just that type of inconsistency that makes fans furious.
Oh, and …
2. Here’s why Michigan over Michigan State matters
If Michigan State wins out against Maryland, at Ohio State, Penn State, and then in the Big Ten Championship, it’s on the College Football Playoff no matter what.
However, if it beats Penn State and Maryland and loses tastefully to Ohio State, and Michigan also beats Penn State and Maryland and loses to Ohio State by an acceptable margin, with this flip-flop in the rankings – if it holds – guess who goes to the Rose Bowl?
If the Big Ten West team win the Big Ten Championship, it’s off to the Rose Bowl, and it’ll be Ohio State if it somehow loses again and still wins the Big Ten title. But if the Buckeyes win out, the higher-ranked team between Michigan and Michigan State will go to Pasadena.
That just changed.
1. Did you win your Power Five conference championship?
It’s the constant broken record, but it has to be repeated over and over and over and over again, because it seems like too many are trying to create a narrative and some excitement that probably isn’t there.
No matter what these rankings are now, and what they’ll be next week, and what they’ll be for a few weeks after that, it all comes down to those final rankings after the conference championships.
The committee can take anyone it wants, but it always starts with this. Did you win your Power Five conference championship? Did you go unbeaten? If yes, then in. Did you win the championship and finish with one loss? Unless the circumstances are extraordinary, if yes, then almost certainly in.
That doesn’t mean Cincinnati can’t get in, but it needs to win out and it needs more teams to start dropping.
And that’s what next week’s rankings are for – they’re about to be a whole lot different.