The new College Football Playoff rankings are out, and TCU, for winning a road game against Kansas by only four points, has fallen from the top four teams in the country.
As I posted earlier in the month, this playoff committee may be leaning too heavily on strength of schedule, heavily favoring SEC schools in the first few rankings of the young playoff system.
This past weekend Alabama defeated Mississippi State, giving the Bulldogs their first loss of the season. Despite the late-season loss, the CFP committee simply moved MSU from first place to fourth.
By doing this, the committee has set the precedent that teams outside the SEC must fill their schedules with tough non-conference opponents in order to compete.
This in itself is a double standard. Teams in the SEC West seem to have the toughest strength of schedule every season for the past several years. This is due in part to the over-ranking of teams within the conference in preseason polls.
As a longtime Big 12 fan, I hate to see a school from the Big 12 not get a fair shake in the new process. The current system demands perfection from conferences outside of the SEC.
The exceptions to this rule are very few. Oregon, for example, is ranked second in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The high-flying offense of the Ducks and convincing strength of schedule in Pac-12 play this year have allowed Oregon to be included despite an early-season loss to Arizona.
Big 12 and Big 10 teams are left outside the top four, despite their similar records. TCU, Ohio State and Baylor each have only one loss and sit 5-7 in this week’s rankings.
These teams have little chance of receiving a bid if the top four teams are able to win their remaining games.
At the beginning of the year I doubted the ability of a Big 12 team to make the College Football Playoff in my “10 Bold Predictions.” Instead I asserted that two SEC schools would take two of the four spots.
The SEC is thought to have the strongest hold in the world of college football, but the people making these assertions need to look at the evidence, which no longer supports that assertion.
Auburn, LSU and A&M each have at least three losses while South Carolina and Florida have at least four. The powers that once reigned in the SEC are fading.
On the surface it looks like the SEC is superior to all other conferences, but that is simply not the case.
Here is a side-by-side comparison between the SEC West and another major conference.
Conference Division A Conference Division B
The left is the SEC West. The right side is the Pac-12 South. Once you factor Oregon into the picture at 9-1 in the Pac-12 North, these two conferences don’t seem as unequal as many would have you believe.
Regardless of the evidence, it seems that the committee has made up its mind in terms of this year’s season.
I think that even if TCU, Ohio State and Baylor win out, none will receive the chance to play in this year’s playoff. Mississippi State still has to beat Ole Miss on the road and Alabama has to play Auburn in the Iron Bowl. None of the three aforementioned teams’ schedules boast tougher opponents in the remaining weeks.
The whole point of the college football playoff is to allow the four best teams in the country to compete against each other. I think that because of this “SEC bias” this year’s playoffs will not offer us the best four teams.
In order to do so, they must take representatives from different conferences, and factor in different styles of play. Oregon may have the best offense and Alabama may have the best defense, but where do teams in the Big 12 and the Big 10 fall?
According to this year’s committee, too short.