College Football Rankings — Can You Really Have Just 4?
Looking ahead at this week’s College Football Playoff Rankings, can anyone honestly say there is a definitive Top 4? Can you even find the two best teams in the country? At this point, I don’t believe that any human could eliminate bias and still come out with an undisputable playoff bracket. I know the system is better than the BCS Computer and most of the conversation had been put out to pasture, but what would it look like with a 16-team playoff?
The Idea of 16
Most models for a 16-team playoff system are similar but one stands out as the most comprehensive. It leaves very little room for error. That model states that each conference would be represented, both Power 5 and Group of 5 schools. That would bring the total number of teams locked into the playoff at 10. The human factor would then need to decide on the next 6 teams. To make things a little more transparent, I believe that there need to be a few more stipulations for making the playoffs if you do not win your conference.
Making the Final 6
- A team in the final 6, must be ranked in the CFP Top 25. As redundant as this sounds, you should look no further than Virginia Tech at this point. The Hokies have 3 losses and are not in the Top25 of the AP Poll. If they are left out of the CFP Poll, the Hokies would not have a shot at the purposed playoff. However, the Hokies have 2 losses that are from teams currently ranked in the Top5. They do own an additional loss at Georgia Tech. Is that really as bad as Clemson losing to Syracuse?
- A team in the final 6, must have a win over a non-conference opponent from a Power 5 Conference or Independent team finishing in the Top25. For example, USF has only lost one game this season and that loss was to Houston by only 4 points. USF has been up and down in the Top25 this season but they do own a win over Illinois. This win would include them in the final conversation for the remaining 6 spots. For Memphis, who has one loss as well and are ranked higher than USF, they do not own a win over a Power 5 opponent. This would exclude them from the conversation. Wisconsin would need to win the conference or be left out because of their out of conference schedule, BYU is not in the conversation for a Top25 ranking.
- A team in the discussion for the remaining 6 spots from the Group of 5 should not have a loss to an FCS team. For the Power 5 Conference teams, a team in contention for a spot in the final 6, should not own a loss to an FCS team or a team from the Group of 5 not ranked in the Final AP or CFP Poll. You would think that this doesn’t apply all that often but when looking at the current AP Poll, LSU would be eliminated from the conversation because of their loss to Troy. Even if Troy ended up as the Conference Champion, they were still not included in the Top25 Ranking. I guess LSU fans can cry like Chris Petersen. Another team joining LSU would be Stanford. With their early season loss to San Diego State, the Cardinals would be left at home watching the race to the Championship.
- No team looking to be in the final 6 of the playoffs can be on probation for major violations at the time of the final CFP Poll. Thanks to an expiration date of November 1st, 2017, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish would escape this fate. No other institutions in the Top25 are currently on suspension. If the NCAA wants to ensure that schools remain inside the boundaries of College Football and Sportsmanship, this would certainly get their attention.
- No conference will have more than two teams in the final 16 and seeds will be determined by a final poll compromised of all teams in the FBS.
- In the event there are not enough teams meeting these requirements, the team(s) with the highest ranking will assume the final spot(s).
Teams Who are Out of Consideration
- Washington State
- Memphis (unless it wins the Conference Championship)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (Unless they win their Conference Championship)
- Michigan State
- Mississippi State
You Have a Final 16
After establishing a final 16, you must now put them in order 1-16. Again, this is made easier. The final 6 spots will be placed by order of ranking in the Top 25. The Conference Champions will be order 1-10 by their overall record, out of conference record, common opponents and number of wins vs. Top25 opponents.
So here is how it would look to this point. Using the last two weeks of the season, determined by the higher ranked team winning (obviously this is just a what if scenario), we have narrowed it down to these 16: Miami, Alabama, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, USC, UCF, Troy, Ohio, Boise St, FAU, Georgia, Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and Washington. No team can be matched up with a Conference opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
The Biggest Concerns
Everyone around College Football talks about the number of games the kids play and how late in the season the Championship would lead us.
The Playoff Model represented here would start on Saturday, December 9th. The first three rounds would be played on consecutive Saturdays, through the 23rd. This would allow for the Universities in the National Championship to give the kids off for Christmas, and about 10 -12 days to prepare for their opponent. The Championship Game would be played on January 6th, 2018. This is 5 days earlier than last year’s National Championship.
As far as the total number of games, does the NFL not play 20 games a year. If your team is good enough to make it to the Final 16, there’s a good chance that you have a few players that will hit the Draft in the first three rounds. Yes, this adds another three games to the schedule. It also gives those players another three opportunities to make a statement in front of scouts.
There is no perfect system for the playoffs but who wouldn’t want to see these matchups. This system gives you 10 marquee matchups out of the 15 games. It gives teams a chance to prove their worth and takes out 90% of human error. If an underdog wins the National Championship, they will have to earn it.
Take the above bracket, Clemson would face each of the other Power 5 Conferences. While the Tigers would escape the winner of the Pac12, they would face the SEC, Big Ten and Big12 Conference Champion. For a team to maneuver that kind of test and win it all, you couldn’t argue against it.
Looking Forward to Tuesday Night!
Before the Playoff Rankings come out Tuesday Night, Duke and Michigan State will play each other in an epic basketball showdown. After the CFP Show, Kentucky and Kansas will also meet on the hardwood surface. Tuesday is going to be amazing!
Below is a compilation of what the 2015 & 2016 Playoffs would have looked like…
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