College Football Playoff Committee Continues to Put Out Bad Rankings | Column

Opinion posted November 10, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Zech Lambert

Another week deep into the college football season, another abysmal ranking by the College Football Playoff Committee on multiple fronts.

First things first: the committee devalues Group of Five teams for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

Cincinnati, arguably the best Group of Five team we’ve ever seen, can’t crack the top four despite being one of only four unbeaten teams left in the country.

Sure, there’s the argument that some of the Bearcats wins are less-than impressive, including the most recent goal-line stand needed to take down a three-win Tulsa team, but they also have the power-five wins the committee needed to see from UCF when they left the Knights out in 2017.

Not only did Cincinnati take care of Indiana, a decent, but not great, Big Ten team, on the road, but it took down a current top-10 CFP team in Notre Dame by two scores on the road.

There is no reason to leave out an undefeated Cincinnati team with a top-10 win, regardless of how “bad” its wins are, considering Oregon lost to a three-win Stanford and sits at No. 3.

However, the Bearcats aren’t the only Group of Five school getting the cold shoulder from the committee.

UTSA, who is one of the other remaining unbeatens, sits at No. 23 after being unranked in the first edition of the committee’s buffoonery.

While the Roadrunners don’t have the same strength of schedule as Cincinnati, they still took down Illinois in Champaign and are certainly deserving to be above teams like Pitt and some three-loss squads.

While UTSA beat Illinois, Penn State did not, but the Nittany Lions did take down two squads ranked inside the top 20.

Let’s say, hypothetically, Penn State squeaks out that nine-overtime win over Illinois and sits at 7-2 with its only two losses coming on the road against teams ranked in the top five at the time they played.

How high would Penn State be ranked? Likely, the highest two-loss team, since those two losses look better than Texas A&M’s two losses.

Instead, thanks to one bad loss — and let’s not get it twisted, that loss was egregious — Penn State can’t crack the top 25.

The thing that doesn’t add up here, though, is the inconsistency in the committee’s logic.

It shows it’s able to look past bad losses, evidenced by Oregon sitting at No. 3, and it values good losses, Alabama at No. 2 being case in point — both teams higher than undefeated Cincinnati.

So why then, is James Franklin’s squad not even in the rankings?

Penn State beat two of the five ranked three-loss teams in Auburn and Wisconsin, boasting more ranked wins than Pitt, who sits at No. 21, and Utah, who is currently ranked No. 24 — both schools don’t have a single win against a current top-25 squad, by the way.

So with two good losses, one bad loss and two ranked wins, there is no reason for Penn State, at the very least, to not be ranked higher than Arkansas, Wisconsin, Auburn, Pitt or Utah.

That’s just by using the committee’s twisted logic, though, ignoring bad losses, valuing good losses and devaluing bad wins — except in the case of golden-child Alabama.

Cincinnati and Oklahoma have not lost a game all season. No matter how ugly it may be at times, the two schools get it done week in and week out.

According to the committee, though, Oregon has a more impressive resume with one good win and one loss that’s just as bad, if not worse, than Penn State’s.

The committee also decides to turn a blind eye to Alabama’s near-upset to a bad LSU team, and still ranks the Crimson Tide second even with a loss.

Ohio State is also in the top four, maybe more deservingly so than Alabama and Oregon, but still had a bad win against Nebraska, yet gets the benefit of the doubt over undefeated teams with bad wins.

There’s still more disconnect near the top of the rankings, though, as Michigan is ranked ahead of Michigan State, both one-loss teams, except the kicker is Michigan State beat Michigan head-to-head.

Both teams have a very similar strength of schedules, too, but Michigan’s is still one place worse, as the Wolverines’ sit in 45th in terms of schedule strength while Michigan State ranks 44th.

As for strength of record, Michigan State is once again higher, sitting at seventh whereas Michigan is eighth, yet somehow the Wolverines sit above the Spartans in the eyes of the committee.

The College Football Playoff Committee, once again, fumbled the ball in its latest rankings, constantly circling its own logic.

Sometimes it values good losses, sometimes it doesn’t. It sometimes docks teams for bad wins but sometimes doesn’t. Sometimes bad losses are okay, sometimes they aren’t.

There is no semblance of consistency throughout the rankings, leaving dozens of questions about teams’ placements, how a Group of Five team can ever make the Playoffs and what exactly goes into why teams are ranked where.


Zech Lambert is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email zbl5146@psu.edu.