Two weeks to go and there is still quite to battle to take place for the four slots in the College Football Playoff. The worst loss amongst the top seven contenders is held by Ohio State, but its hard to hold it against them too much considering how much they’ve improved since Sept. 6.Baylor also has an underwhelming loss to West Virginia. TCU, on the other hand, has an impressive win against Kansas State, but lost head-to-head to Baylor. All three of these teams are going to need someone in the top four to maintain hope. Mississippi State and Alabama each only have one win against a top 25 opponent, but with losses to quality opposition have the edge over Baylor, Ohio State, and TCU.
A few seasons ago, the world of baseball analysis was swept up by an increasingly popular way to analyze player performance. Used by some as a key stat to determine season ending award winners and player contract values, Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, shows the extent of a player’s contribution to their team. Some people love this sabermetric; others still aren’t buying into it. Similarly, a new stat has become a key component involved in selecting the four participants in the new College Football Playoff.
As a whole, sports fans love stats, and we love finding ways to analyze which player is better than other players, and which team is better than the other teams. If you’ve been keeping up with the college football playoff talk, especially on the ESPN networks, you may have noticed a new phrase being thrown around by analysts and reporters — game control.
It was about that time. Mississippi State was bound to lose soon enough. They’ve played one of the tougher conference schedules in the SEC, and battled through perfectly, until Alabama. Before the season the writing was on the wall, MSU would be a winning team. But no one expected them to do this well. Against a greater talented Alabama they couldn’t pull out another surprising victory and a week after putting them in my top spot, they’ve now fallen to No. 5. Florida State, after another shaky performance, takes over No. 1. Why, you ask? Because they keep winning. The final three weeks of the season are going to provide an exciting race to make the playoffs between the top seven, and my betting favorites are my current top four.
Three weeks into the weekly College Football Playoff Rankings, strength of schedule is the phrase on everybody’s tongue. Unlike the traditional polls, the playoff committee has proven to have no problem with ranking certain teams ahead of others with fewer losses, based on SOS. Likewise, other teams with weaker schedules have suffered the consequences. With such an apparent heavy emphasis on body of work, it would seem we are working towards finding the best four teams. However, there are some interesting dilemmas at hand. Florida State, Baylor and Nebraska are three teams I’ve yet to figure out, and I think the committee too.
I’ve finally followed suit with the rest of the nation and moved Mississippi State up to No. 1. They’ve played well enough to earn it, and while I still don’t view them to be as talented as Florida State, you can’t take away their three wins over top 25 teams, which I value more than FSU’s. Wins over Texas A&M and LSU look much stronger today than a week ago, while FSU’s win over Notre Dame looks weaker. The two teams I still haven’t figured out are Baylor and Nebraska. By season’s end I can see them being in dramatically different slots than where they are currently. Part of me wants to place them higher than their respective Nos. 7 and 14, but they’ll have opportunities to earn it on the field. The complete ranking is as follows.
The Playoff Committee’s week 11 ranking is out, so in fitting time here is mine. There are some small differences between ours, most notably at the No. 1 position. Mississippi State is the consensus top team in the nation with very strong wins over LSU and Auburn, but watching FSU in their last two I saw a team who at the flip of a switch can turn into the most dominant team in the nation. MSU on the other hand, has been the most consistent team throughout the season. If it came down to it, I think FSU would beat MSU head-to-head. At No. 3, Auburn is the most dangerous team in the country and has the body of work to prove it, but that one loss is keeping me from placing them first. The entire rankings are as follows, and this week promises to shake things up, but also provide more clarity in regards to teams like Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State, and even Alabama, who also has yet to defeat a top 20 opponent.