Comparing the third CFP Top 25 to most recent AP rankings, BCS simulation
Out with the old, in with the new.
The College Football Playoff has replaced the BCS as the FBS’s path to a national championship, and the process of selecting the title contenders has transitioned from an unforgiving formula to a selectively chosen playoff field.
The CFP selection committee released its third top 25 rankings Tuesday night on ESPN, and there are plenty of differences between that set of rankings and a recent BCS simulation (done courtesy of BCSKnowHow.com).
Take a look at how the top 12 teams from the newest CFP Poll stacks up against the top 12 teams from the BCS simulation and the most recent Associated Press Poll:
|Ranking||CFP Rankings||AP Rankings||BCS Simulation|
|1||Mississippi State||Mississippi State||Missisippi State|
|2||Oregon||Florida State||Florida State|
|7||Baylor||Arizona State||Arizona State|
|8||Ohio State||Ohio State||Auburn|
|10||Ole Miss||Ole Miss||Ole Miss|
|12||Michigan State||Michigan State||UCLA|
So what did we learn about the selection committee’s thought process when comparing its rankings to what the BCS would have produced this week? We learned the selection committee values body of work above all else, while the BCS is heavily influenced by a team’s conference affiliation and standing in the other polls.
Oregon moved ahead of Florida State in the CFP Poll due to a superior body of work, whereas the objectivity of the BCS never would have allowed a one-loss team to be ranked higher than an undefeated team from a power five conference.
The subjectivity of the current selection committee recognized the Ducks have three wins against ranked opponents to the Seminoles’ two, and that two of the Ducks’ three wins against ranked teams came on the road.
The selection committee used the same logic when it ranked Arizona State ahead of Baylor despite the BCS and the AP slotting the Bears ahead of ASU. The Sun Devils have four wins against ranked teams to Baylor’s one, earning Arizona State an edge past the Bears.
Aside from Duke and Nebraska, which have combined to beat a whopping zero top 20 teams this year, every zero- or one-loss team from the power five conferences earned a spot in the top 8 in the CFP Poll. From there, the committee compared bodies of work and deciphered who is a playoff team and who isn’t.
The BCS, on the other hand, was only designed to choose two teams for a title game, and from 3-12 the rankings become inconsistent. Ohio State beat a top 10 team the same week Auburn lost its second game, yet the Tigers remain ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. Alabama hasn’t beaten a team with fewer than three losses this season, yet it sits ahead of Oregon and TCU.
The SEC earned obvious favor from the BCS formula as the conference with the most teams ranked in the AP and Coaches’ Polls. Amidst all the debate of whether the SEC will receive two playoff bids, it was the BCS simulation that had two SEC teams in the top 4, not the CFP.
The subjectivity of the selection committee’s process allows it a chance to evolve and change in the coming weeks, while the BCS, of course, was set in stone. We don’t know how the rankings will change between now and the end of the season, but we’ve learned the selection committee can and will capture nuances the BCS never could, and that it will reward the four most accomplished teams as the four teams eligible for a national championship.
The BCS couldn’t always say the same.