The College Football Playoff selection committee unveiled its first rankings Tuesday night, and they are, in fact, spot-on.
Based on these rankings, we can easily deduce that strength of schedule is of paramount importance to the committee, and head-to-head results are fastidiously considered. Their rankings are more logical and consistent than the two polls, particularly the Amway Coaches Poll, which should now be thoroughly discredited.
The CFP rankings also vary slightly from what the BCS standings would've looked like. The reason for that is rather obvious: the influence of the polls. In the BCS standings used from 2004-2013, the polls accounted for two-thirds of rankings. That element has been completely suppressed as the committee's list bears much more of a resemblance to computer rankings.
Here are the committee's Top 25 teams, as compared to a facsimile of the old BCS standings, our CFP mock standings and the two major polls:
|Playoff Committee Rankings Comparison|
|CFP Rank||Team||BCS||B/R Mock||AP||Coaches|
|*Top group-of-five team|
Explanations of Rankings
BCS rankings are a simulation of the BCS formula used from 2004-2013 with two exceptions: 1. The AP poll is used in place of the Harris Poll; 2) Sagarin and Massey rankings are their native systems instead of the non-MOV version used for the BCS.
A few highlights, thoughts from committee's first rankings
Committee's rankings don't behave like polls
That is a good thing—a very good thing. The biggest problem with the BCS in its latter years was that the polls were weighted disproportionately. One of the major beneficiaries of this has been Alabama, which always seems to get more support in the polls than it deserves. The Tide, ranked No. 3 in both polls as well as the would-be BCS standings, are much more accurately placed by the committee at No. 6.
Strength of schedule matters, a lot
The Big Ten is being punished as a weak conference, as Michigan State might not be able to play its way into the playoff even if it wins out. Ohio State, at No. 16, virtually has no chance. The committee also is making an example out of Baylor, which is several spots behind its Big 12 rivals with identical records, because of its pathetic nonconference slate.
The only team that's in the Top 25 in both polls and would-be BCS standings but omitted by the committee is Marshall, the only other undefeated team besides Mississippi State and Florida State in its rankings. The Thundering Herd have won their eight games by an average of nearly 30 points, but their weak schedule clearly has been a huge detriment.
As of now, East Carolina is the only team from the group-of-five conferences in the rankings.
The tournament starts now
Don't be fooled by the bracket that's being put out on TV (and everywhere else). Though there are four SEC West teams in the Top Six, there are four guaranteed losses among those teams as they still have to face each other multiple times. Essentially, eight of the top nine teams—except Michigan State—have a chance to play their way into the playoff, which leaves us with the one real surprise...
No luck of the Irish
Despite three members with ties to the school (and are not covered under the recusal policy)—Condoleezza Rice, Ty Willingham and Pat Haden—Notre Dame did not get much love from the committee.
At No. 10, the Irish need some help to get into the playoff field even if they finish 11-1. It's a clear indication that the committee isn't fond of horseshoes or hand grenades: Notre Dame's close loss at Florida State doesn't count for much.
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