Takeaways from the final Tuesday Playoff poll
Smell ya later, Tuesday rankings shows.
Like the rest of this crap year, you’re soon to be in the past. Well, at least until next year.
We had a lot to break down when it came to the last rankings before the last rankings. That made sense, right? Yeah, it did.
Like, what would happen with Florida? Would a Pac-12 team get in the mix? What about the Group of 5 treatment for Cincinnati?
We got answers to that on Tuesday night:
1. You weren’t paying attention if you thought Florida would free fall
Shoutout Tom Petty.
I knew that the internet was going to be SUPER mad about Florida not dropping out of the top 10 for losing to LSU. I had predicted the Gators to fall to No. 8 and instead, they were at No. 7. I thought they’d fall behind idle Cincinnati. That didn’t happen.
What instead happened was that the Gators got the benefit of the doubt because of their best friends in Athens. Georgia was always going to be the buffer. How could Florida be ranked behind Georgia when it’s the Gators who had the head-to-head advantage? Go figure that the Dawgs smoked a Top-25 Mizzou squad on the road, but Florida actually prevented Georgia from moving up more than 1 spot.
Florida had been ranked behind Texas A&M in every Playoff poll so far because of the head-to-head. It looms large. Well, unless you’re Iowa State and Louisiana. In that case, a 17-point home loss doesn’t mean anything.
Yet still, the optics were gonna be “wow, Florida only dropped 1 spot after losing to 3-5 LSU. I guess the SEC gets the benefit of the doubt again.”
Sure, if that fits your narrative, go with it. But for those of us who were paying attention, we saw this coming because of previous reasoning used.
2. I still don’t think this changes Florida’s Playoff odds
Even with an Alabama win, no, I don’t see it. Why? Because Alabama is in. We can agree on that, right? We better because an SEC team who beats 10 conference foes by an average of 32.7 points and never plays in a game closer than 15 points is as much of a lock as we’ve ever seen heading into conference championship weekend.
If Alabama is in, a 1-loss A&M team would still have the advantage on Florida. It’s the head-to-head that’s been valued in each and every ranking so far. Why would that suddenly change? It’d be different if Florida only had 1 loss. It doesn’t. A&M does. There’s a reason why we haven’t seen a 2-loss team make the field yet.
Florida’s only path to a Playoff berth would be like hitting on this wild parlay, and I’m not even sure that would be enough:
- Florida beats Alabama
- Ohio State loses to Northwestern
- Texas A&M loses to Tennessee
The odds of 1 of those things happening seem slim, much less all 3. Even then, the selection committee could stun us all and put a 1-loss Northwestern team into the field or a 2-loss Iowa State team. This is what happens when you fall to a 3-5 team for loss No. 2.
3. The thing I thought was a good sign for A&M, and the thing I thought wasn’t a good sign for A&M
I was interested in where USC was going to be ranked after getting to 5-0. I thought the Trojans would soar to No. 10 after coming back against UCLA to improve to 5-0, which is the same record as Ohio State. But instead, they only went up to No. 13. That ruled out any possibility that Saturday’s Pac-12 Championship will get the Trojans into the field.
That’s good news for A&M, who surely didn’t want to worry about another Power 5 conference champ NOT named Ohio State getting some late love from the selection committee.
There was, however, 1 bad thing that played out for the Aggies. Go figure it was their old conference, the Big 12, who put a worrisome possibility into the weekend ahead.
Let’s just start by saying Iowa State’s ranking was a joke at No. 7, and it’s even worse at No. 6. I can admit that Louisiana is a pretty solid football team while also thinking that losing by 17 to a Group of 5 team at home should matter for someone, much less a 2-loss team. Have I mentioned that yet? Good. It needed to be brought up.
Think about this, though. Given the selection committee’s obsession with Iowa State, what happens if the Cyclones beat an Oklahoma team who is now No. 10 to claim the Big 12 title? How does that compare to beating a 3-win Tennessee team? That’s not good. For the first time, I know would have legitimate concerns if I’m an A&M fan about not Ohio State, but Iowa State.
Of course, A&M still needs help to begin with. This is still only possible — now that we know Ohio State isn’t getting moved off that No. 4 spot unless it loses — if Clemson loses to Notre Dame OR if the Irish lose in a blowout.
I wouldn’t rule that out, but nobody wants to have to get 1 more thing to break right on the final week of the regular season. A&M is now in that spot.
4. Cincinnati fans should be upset, but not surprised
Look, man. I get it. The Bearcats haven’t play football in almost 4 weeks because of COVID. That’s a bummer. I hate that for Luke Fickell’s squad. I hate that his squad has been ranked behind not 1, not 2, but 3 Power 5 teams with 2 losses. The fact that Iowa State has 2 losses and 1 of those was by 17 to a Group of 5 team at home … I’m not gonna mention it again.
But at the same time, what do we expect to see from the selection committee when a Group of 5 team without a Power 5 game hasn’t even played in 4 weeks? Like, do people want Cincinnati to keep moving up? The program got the benefit of having the highest initial Group of 5 ranking ever by a long shot, and then it had the unfortunate setback of getting game after game canceled.
Again, I thought we’d see Cincinnati at No. 7, Florida at No. 8 and Georgia at No. 9. If there’s a gripe, it’s that the Gators and Dawgs were both ranked ahead of them. But the selection committee wanted to reward Georgia for that dominant road win at Top-25 Mizzou, and that meant moving the idle Bearcats back.
Until we see a Group of 5 team run the table with an impressive Power 5 win, it’s unfair to hold our breath on any other outcome.
5. A prediction!
Let’s do it. This feels like a 5-foot putt at this point. Could I send it 3 feet past the hole? Absolutely. But not making a prediction is leaving a 5-foot putt 3 inches from the cup, and I refuse to do that.
Here’s my prediction for Selection Sunday:
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
That would mean Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State win their respective title games while Notre Dame’s close ACC Championship loss is enough to make the field. That’s about as chalky as it gets, but at this point, it’s hard to pick against a Clemson team who has been dominant with Trevor Lawrence.
This scenario would actually make for the easiest, most drama-free Selection Sunday. I don’t think there’d be much debate other than whether a nail-biter Clemson-Notre Dame game would put the selection committee in a spot where it needed to set up a grudge match (we haven’t seen any rematches in the Playoff yet). My guess is that wouldn’t happen and we’d instead see another Clemson-Ohio State semifinal with Alabama getting the Irish for the first time since, well, you know.
Thankfully, we’re finally just days away from finding out what the field looks like in this bizarre, mess of a year.