College Football Playoff Rankings judgments: LSU getting too much credit, Auburn overrated
We had to wait a little longer than usual thanks to a college basketball game between Kansas and Michigan — scheduling the rankings show between the basketball games every season is sadistic — but the latest College Football Playoff Rankings are out, and you know what that means: I have thoughts on them.
So let’s dive in.
No. 7 LSU — Overrated
I understand what the committee likes about LSU. It’s a team with wins over No. 24 Auburn (more on the Tigers later), No. 5 Georgia and No. 16 Mississippi State. You could argue that as far as wins are concerned, there might not be a team with a better set of wins in the country. But the Tigers also have two losses. Yes, those losses are to No. 1 Alabama and No. 15 Florida, but LSU’s flaws were made bare for the world to see on Saturday night against Alabama.
Simply put, LSU is a good team. It will likely finish the season as a top 10 team in the country, but it can’t compete with the elite. It has a strong defense, but offensively, it’s limited at best. Also, it has no shot to get back into the top four or win its division, so it’s playoff hopes are essentially dead. So why do we even need to keep it ranked ahead of other teams who still have real playoff hopes at the moment?
Again, this Tigers team is good. Losing to Alabama doesn’t make it bad, even if it looked hopeless doing so. But it shouldn’t be ahead of a few of the teams behind it right now. Not until they have a second loss of their own, anyway.
No. 8 Washington State — Overrated
No. 9 West Virginia — Underrated
This is a simple case of two teams I believe should be swapped in the pecking order. Both have one loss on the season, but West Virginia’s lone loss was by 16 on the road against No. 22 Iowa State. Wazzu’s loss was by three on the road to an unranked 5-4 USC team. When it comes to wins, West Virginia has a win over No. 19 Texas; Washington State hasn’t beaten a team currently in the rankings, though it may have a chance against a ranked Washington team to end the regular season.
Finally, according to the Sagarin ratings, West Virginia has played the 45th most-difficult schedule in the country. So both teams have one loss, but West Virginia has the best win, the best loss, and it has played the more difficult schedule. These teams should be swapped.
No. 24 Auburn — Overrated
You know, I’m one of those people who doesn’t think the SEC is overrated. I think it’s just a very good conference, and it’s the best conference in the country, even if the rest of the league gets a bit too much credit for what Alabama has done. But crap like this makes it hard to deny there’s an SEC bias with the CFP Selection Committee.
How the hell is Auburn ranked? We’re talking about a team that’s 6-3, one that literally needed its athletic director to publicly go on the record Tuesday that they won’t be firing their coach this season. This is a team whose best win, according to the committee, was 21-16 over No. 25 Washington on opening weekend. You know what’s happened since then? The Tigers have lost three times, including a home loss to a Tennessee team that could only manage 14 points against Charlotte on Saturday.
Listen, I know that when it comes to the bottom of the rankings, it’s hard to find worth teams, but it’s much more difficult to look at this Auburn team and deem it as one of the 25 best in the country.
Utah State — Underrated
You know who would have been fine in the 24 or 25 spot that wouldn’t have been a problem? Utah State. Is it a team that deserves a top 10 or top 15 spot? No, of course not. But what Utah State is is an 8-1 team that’s only loss was a seven-point loss on the road against No. 18 Michigan State. Now, the Aggies have only beaten one team with a winning record — Hawaii — so they don’t have the strength of schedule to warrant being ranked much higher, but even if they haven’t played the most challenging schedule, they’ve annihilated everyone in their path. Utah State’s eight wins have come by an average of 32.9 points per game.
Utah State’s only crime is that it’s a Group of Five school, and if we start putting too many Group of Five schools in the CFP Rankings (there are two, compared to four in both the AP and Coaches Polls) then we might run the risk of giving teams like UCF too much credibility and leverage when it comes to how we rank them.
And we can’t have that, can we?
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