Takeaways from the second Playoff poll
It’s going to get crazy. It always does, right?
Tuesday night wasn’t suspenseful. Like, at all. The Michigan State-Kansas regular season hoops game had more suspense than the Playoff rankings that followed, which weren’t crazy in the slightest.
But I had plenty of takeaways nonetheless.
1. Of course there was a boring top 4
They tried. They really did. They had the suspenseful introduction and they had the debate about teams 16-20. Shoot, they even had the Michigan State-Kansas game go a half hour late. Well done, Playoff. Well done.
But yeah, that was about the least suspenseful top 4 ever, and everyone knew it.
- Notre Dame
I would’ve bet the farm on that shaking out in that fashion after LSU lost and everyone moved one spot up. Easy as pie.
We’re seeing a lot about résumés right now. That is, Alabama’s stranglehold on the top spot got even tighter because what it did on Saturday at LSU.
The fact that Notre Dame is the last-ranked Power 5 unbeaten — it’s easier to just call the Irish a Power 5 team because they play 10 of them — says that the selection committee isn’t crazy about the résumé. At least it isn’t as crazy about it compared to Clemson’s, which is interesting considering Notre Dame has the better win (Michigan).
But there’s something to be said for how Notre Dame’s opponents, outside of Michigan, have underperformed this year. The Wolverines are the only team on Notre Dame’s schedule in the current top 25. Without a conference championship game, the selection committee has set this up for the Irish to fall out of the top 4 with a loss.
That wasn’t necessarily news on Saturday night. Rather, confirmation. That was pretty much the story of the top 4.
2. Everyone is upset about that LSU ranking
I get both sides of the coin. And trust me, I’ve heard both argued a ton.
The fact that 2-loss LSU came in ranked ahead of 1-loss Ohio State, 1-loss West Virginia and 1-loss Washington State was telling. That tells you the selection committee holds Alabama in extremely high regard to only drop the Tigers 4 spots after losing by 29 at home.
It also means that LSU’s résumé is still held in high regard. The SEC is held in especially high regard because it’s not like LSU’s win against a disappointing Miami (FL) squad is what’s moving the needle. And everyone is going to claim SEC bias for putting 2-loss LSU ahead of those teams, but this is why that happened:
- LSU wins vs. current ranked teams — 3
- Ohio State wins vs. current ranked teams — 1
- West Virginia vs. current ranked teams — 1
- Washington State vs. current ranked teams — 0
That’s right. LSU has more wins vs. current top-25 teams than all 3 of those 1-loss teams combined. And yeah, maybe the selection committee doesn’t count a loss to Alabama as a full demerit. Can you blame them?
LSU might’ve also gotten a nice bump because of the Georgia thing. A lot of LSU fans would probably argue that the Tigers, even though they have an additional loss, should be ranked ahead of Georgia after what happened a few weeks ago in Baton Rouge. It wasn’t even close. So should Georgia be grateful to be at No. 5? I don’t know.
LET’S JUST GET MAD ABOUT EVERYTHING.
3. The conference representation stat that’s worth noting
I can’t say it enough.
This. Is. All. About. Résumé.
How your competition fares shapes perception of your body of work. That’s why we always need to monitor what the entire top 25 looks like and not just the teams who are still alive.
Here’s the conference breakdown of top-25 teams:
- SEC — 7
- Big Ten — 5
- ACC — 4
- Big 12 — 4
- Pac-12 — 2
- Group of 5 — 2
- Independent — 1
That’s significant on so many levels.
For starters, a team like Washington State doesn’t control its own destiny when its lacking so few opportunities to pick up wins against ranked teams after it played one of the worst non-conference schedules ever. And Washington is at No. 25, so even if Washington State wins the Apple Cup at season’s end, that doesn’t bode well for the résumé if the Huskies fall out of the top 25.
Meanwhile, a team like Alabama is currently scheduled for possibly 3 more matchups against top-25 teams including SEC East champion Georgia. That’s how you build a résumé.
The Big Ten is fortunate to still have so many top-25 teams because should help Michigan continue its place as the top-ranked 1-loss team.
There’s no bias here, but there’s definitely significance in the weekly conference breakdown of the poll.
4. Yeah, UCF is praying for a miracle and then some
Last week, UCF fans had to feel like it was a slap to the face to put 2-loss Florida ranked ahead of the unbeaten Knights. So how do you think UCF fans felt to see 2-loss Kentucky still ranked ahead of the Knights this week? Go search “UCF” on Twitter and read the replies.
Just kidding. Don’t do that. Definitely don’t do that.
This feels more and more like the only thing that’ll get UCF into the field is the craziest November of college football that we’ve ever seen. By consistently putting 2-loss SEC teams ahead of the Knights, conventional wisdom suggests that it’s going to take several 2-loss conference champs just to make them even considered.
That probably still won’t be enough. No, the fact that Pitt could earn a trip to the ACC Championship only to get crushed by Clemson probably wouldn’t matter. It’s the AAC that’s killing UCF. The combined record is horrendous, and the Knights’ backloaded schedule looks weaker than it did last week after USF and Houston both lost.
Sorry, UCF. It ain’t shaping up like the year to earn a real national title.