Takeaways from the second Playoff rankings of 2021
Oh, College Football Playoff rankings. Even when you’re delayed and we’ve got to wait until 9:15 p.m. ET to watch you because of an early-November basketball game that won’t matter in a few months, you still make us lose our minds.
Michigan ahead of Michigan State? When they have the same record and they played 2 weeks ago? What?
That was totally just the selection committee not wanting to give us a boring ranking. Either that or they wanted to set the entire state of Michigan on fire. Whatever the case, it was dumb and inconsistent considering Oregon and Ohio State also have the head-to-head deal and Oregon got the better ranking in each of the first 2 weeks.
But oh well. We move on.
In case you didn’t want to watch basketball or a rankings show broadcast from the catwalk at Madison Square Garden, here’s what you missed:
Take a look at the full #CFBPlayoff selection committee rankings for games played through November 6.
Where does your team rank?
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 10, 2021
1. Whether you agreed with it or not, No. 2 was never going to change
If you’re still upset with Alabama at No. 2, you’re wasting your time. The selection committee didn’t move Alabama down from that No. 2 spot because outside of Georgia, the top 6 was a total mess. It wasn’t like an idle Oklahoma team was suddenly going to vault past all of those teams. The selection committee was consistent with its treatment of the Sooners, who are suffering for this very reason:
WINS VS. CURRENT AP TOP 25
Georgia — 1
Oregon — 1
Alabama — 1
Cincinnati — 1
Michigan State — 1
Ohio State — 1
Oklahoma State — 1
Michigan — 1
Notre Dame — 1
Oklahoma — 0
— Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) November 8, 2021
(I realize those are AP Top 25 rankings, but you get the idea.)
Really, the selection committee stayed true within the top 5.
Ohio State? Unimpressive in a win at 3-6 Nebraska. Michigan State lost, Cincinnati barely beat Tulsa and Oregon had a 10-point win against 4-4 Washington. Had any of those teams won convincingly, there would at least be a bit of an argument for a shakeup at the No. 2 spot. That, however, wasn’t the case.
There are still so many quality wins to be had for those top teams. Well, maybe with the exception of Cincinnati.
2. Cincinnati gets good news and bad news
I actually thought we’d see the Bearcats at No. 6 while Ohio State and Oregon each moved up a spot. A small victory on Tuesday night was the fact that Cincinnati did indeed move up to No. 5 after a bad showing against Tulsa. It isn’t still sitting behind Michigan State, and the selection committee didn’t flip flop its Oklahoma ranking.
Cincinnati again earned the highest Playoff ranking we’ve ever seen for a Group of 5 team. On the surface, one would look at that and assume that if Georgia beats Alabama and the Bearcats keep winning games, they’ll be in. That could happen.
What could also happen is the selection committee continues to justify not putting Cincinnati in the top 4 based on its treatment of the AAC. Houston, who is at No. 17 in both the AP and Coaches Poll, is still not ranked. The Bearcats won’t face Houston until the AAC Championship, but even if they win that game convincingly, it could likely knock the Cougars out of the Top 25 (assuming they do eventually crack the rankings).
We heard Gary Barta say last week that Cincinnati’s Notre Dame win was impressive, but that it still lacked those other quality wins. It doesn’t help when the selection committee continues to limit any chance for another quality win in the home stretch.
3. Arkansas getting that love from the selection committee matters because …
Well, it matters for 2 reasons.
One is that’s the first Playoff ranking of the Sam Pittman era. As we enter into the home stretch of the recruiting cycle, something tells me that matters. It’s also a bit of validation after that 3-game losing streak had Hog fans seeing flashbacks of the latter half of the 2020 season. This week was the 2-year anniversary of Chad Morris getting fired. There’s no way anyone in their right mind could’ve predicted a short 2 years later that the Hogs would be in the Playoff poll going into a road game at LSU as a favorite.
Cheers, Arkansas fans. Y’all deserve to enjoy that.
Who else might enjoy that ranking? Georgia and Alabama.
Georgia already has that Arkansas win in its back pocket. Alabama is still in search of that. Beat the Hogs convincingly and it can only help the case for a Playoff bid with a close loss to Georgia. Is Alabama ever going to think like that? Of course not. But we can. And we will.
4. I truly think Georgia can lose to Tennessee and still be worthy of No. 1
Do I think that’ll happen? No, but given how crazy this year has been, I’m bracing for anything. That includes Georgia going on the road and losing as a 3-touchdown favorite. Being a 3-touchdown favorite as a team who has yet to allow 14 points in a game all year basically means that the Dawgs would have to play by far their worst game of the year.
And even if that happened, I’d still have them at No. 1.
Why? As I outlined the other day in predicting the rankings, Georgia is No. 1 in average margin of victory vs. Power 5 competition (+29.8) and no contender has more wins against Power 5 teams with winning records (5), which matters during a time when seemingly nobody at the top has a bunch of quality wins to speak of. That’s why it feels like nobody wants — or is deserving of — that No. 2 spot.
Add a loss to the Georgia résumé and it’s still better than Alabama’s, Ohio State’s, Cincinnati’s or Oklahoma’s. That’s how much better Georgia is compared to the rest of the field.
5. Your weekly conference-by-conference breakdown
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for … a conference by-conference breakdown of the Top 25!
- SEC — 6
- Big Ten — 6
- Big 12 — 3
- ACC — 3
- Pac-12 — 2
- Ind. — 2
- AAC — 1
- Mountain West — 1
- Conference-USA — 1
It’s interesting because we’ve sort of decided that a 1-loss Big 12 champ or a 1-loss ACC champ won’t make the field, yet Oregon is sitting there with 1 loss at No. 3, and the Pac-12 has fewer CFP Top 25 teams than the rest of the Power 5. Utah barely cracked the Top 25, too. Oregon obviously has that all-important Ohio State win, but in terms of opportunities to get separation from a team like unbeaten Oklahoma, those might be limited.
Whatever the case, it’s hard to see any scenario in which the SEC and Big Ten don’t have at least 1 team in the field with still the possibility for 2. That’s not a bad place to be heading into the second weekend of November.