The second set of College Football Playoff rankings was released last night, much to the dismay of anyone who really still thought the playoff committee wasn’t microdosing quaaludes every Saturday before turning on the television. For those of you out there thinking, you just complained about this last week! Are you going to keep complaining every week? My response is that I probably will feel an ethical complaining responsibility every Wednesday morning until the committee sorts a few things out and/or is altogether abolished.
Let’s start at the top: Georgia is the obvious No. 1 spot. I don’t think there’s an individual in the country who would disagree with that, which is why it’s nothing short of a miracle that the CFP committee agrees with that statement. And after that, it’s anyone’s game. That’s both the problem and the fun part of this season — when no one’s a playoff team, everyone’s a playoff team! Perhaps we should give the committee a little leniency when it comes to that challenging situation — or at least, I would have said that had the CFP, in their infinite wisdom, not ranked Michigan ahead of Michigan State. With the same record. After Michigan lost to the Spartans TWO. WEEKS. AGO.
And that’s just getting started. Let’s take a look at this week’s top 10.
Cyberbullying the committee last week clearly didn’t work, as Alabama is still sitting right up at No. 2. Is there anyone particularly more deserving of that second spot? Not necessarily, but there are several teams who I think could make an argument for No. 2, and when the committee staunchly claims that previous years don’t affect this season’s standings, it’s hard to believe that the 2021 Bama squad is truly the most deserving. They barely pulled a win out against a 4-4 LSU team who fired their coach a few weeks ago. To be honest, I’m shocked that LSU didn’t claw its way in at No. 25 this week as a result of keeping it tight with Alabama.
It’s hard to shake this mindset after watching the Crimson Tide for the past decade, but we — and the committee — have to realize that a team like LSU keeping it close with Alabama might not mean that LSU is way better than we’ve given them credit for. It actually is much more likely that Alabama has more weaknesses than we expected, but when they’re cemented into our collective CFB hivemind as the standard, a close win isn’t a demerit against them, but is instead credited as an impressive showing for their opponent. LSU isn’t a quality win just because they almost beat Alabama — they’re simply opening a conversation about the very real shortcomings of the 2021 Crimson Tide. But I will give them this — A&M, Bama’s only loss, is looking better every week.
Cincinnati has yet to make its way into the Top 4 after their own close win against Tulsa this weekend (of course, their close win will be seen as a sign of unpreparedness and lack of playoff potential, while Alabama’s will be perceived as a demonstration of grit and strength). The undefeated Bearcats sit behind three one-loss teams, one of whom lost to a very bad Stanford team. Despite that loss, Oregon still sits ahead of Ohio State, as the Buckeyes’ only loss was against the Ducks. Well, at least the committee is letting the head-to-head results speak for themselves between closely ranked teams. Right? Right??
Wrong! Committee Chair Gary Barta called Michigan “the more complete team” and put them at No. 6, with MSU at No. 7, after Sparty took a bad L to Purdue this week. Now, to preface — none of this will matter when Ohio State beats Michigan over Thanksgiving weekend, but that’s several weeks from now. Whether Jim Harbaugh’s statement this week that the Big Ten office admitted to several officiating mistakes from the MSU game had anything to do with this ranking will remain a mystery. I ask, then: why even play the games? Clearly, Barta and his committee have it all figured out! If Michigan was the more complete team on both sides of the ball, why didn’t they simply win the game?
Why play the games? Undefeated Oklahoma is sitting allllll the way down at No. 8, under five different one-loss teams based on what seems to be an assumption that they’ll drop a few late in the season to Oklahoma State and Baylor. Yeah, I assume that too. I’m not an Oklahoma fan, and I very firmly do not believe that this is a playoff-caliber team that they have, but they’re undefeated! We can’t be ranking them this low based on the simple assumption that they’ll lose eventually — because then why are we playing the games?! If they can put Michigan above MSU, what’s stopping them from putting the Sooners up there too? Let them lose before tanking them, at least. Ugh, now I’m defending Oklahoma! What has this come to?
After the Wake Forest loss to UNC, Notre Dame continues its slow and terrifying climb to sit at No. 9. As Deadspin’s own Jesse Spector tweeted last night, “Notre Dame is going to make the playoff, and it’s not even going to be a crazy series of events that makes it happen. It’s going to make complete sense, and they will lose by 31 points to Georgia in the semifinal.” Full disclosure here: I’m a diehard ND fan, yet there is no part of me that wants to see them in this year’s semifinal facing Georgia, but every week that the Irish win and someone just ahead of them loses, we creep one spot closer to national embarrassment. (Not that anyone won’t be embarrassed against Georgia this year. They’re operating in another realm.) But again — without even wanting Notre Dame to be higher in the rankings — if we’re putting Michigan above MSU, why not Notre Dame? MSU’s loss came from a team that Notre Dame beat, and ND’s only loss is a top-five team. Why play the games?
Rounding out the Top 10 is Oklahoma State, followed by Texas A&M after soundly thrashing Auburn this past weekend.
A lot of it just doesn’t make much sense. Wisconsin and Auburn, both three-loss teams, are ranked in the top 20, but Penn State, a three-loss team who beat both Wisconsin and Auburn, is noticeably absent. Newcomer UTSA, at least, is finally ranked (meep-meep!), clocking in at No. 23 with a 9-0 record after notable backlash last week regarding that snub. Gary Barta continues moonlighting as a clown and there are a multitude of issues with the committee arrangement itself that probably deserve their own article, so I’ll leave you with a tweet that made me laugh. See you all next Wednesday.