Here is this week's installment of the College Football Playoff rankings-
- Florida State
- Mississippi State
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
- Kansas State
- Arizona State
- Georgia Tech
- Ole Miss
- Boise State
Alabama beat a team last week which is ranked #160 in the Sagarin computer rankings. Florida State kicked a last minute field goal after Jameis Winston pushed a ref aside down the stretch, and the ref did not throw a flag to show solidarity with the Tallahassee PD. The team that Florida State nipped last week, at home no less, is ranked #56 in the Sagarin ratings. And yet, the top four teams remained the same. If the playoffs were held right now, Alabama and Mississippi State would meet in the Sugar Bowl, and Oregon and Florida State would meet in the Rose Bowl.
TCU had a bye, which did not hurt their #5 position. Ohio State had a one point lead at home at the end of the 3rd quarter, before pulling ahead for a 15 point win. The team they struggled with is TIARA's alma mater, which is winless in conference play and is ranked #91 in the Sagarin ratings. Baylor had by far the best win of the teams in the 5-7 range in the rankings, and was only able to hold their spot at #7.
With the logjam at the top, UCLA was only able to leapfrog Ole Miss, which was trounced on the road at Arkansas. So the Bruins sit at #8 this week, after being at #9 last week. Of the top nine teams, UCLA was the only one to play a ranked opponent last week, and the Bruins cruised to an easy win, but only gained one spot in the rankings.
This week, although Stanford is still dangerous due to their defense, a UCLA win will presumably not mean much for the rankings, because Stanford is not ranked. The only way to get big movement will be to beat Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. This would be a win over the team which will be ranked #1 or #2 in the country at the time of the game. And if you beat the #1 or #2 team, a team which is playing for a spot in the playoff, then you should be in the playoffs with the win.
Let's hope that logic prevails.
As a reminder, the College Football Playoff committee selects the four teams for the National Semifinais, and also selects the teams for the other top tier Bowl games- Fiesta, Cotton, Peach and Orange. The committee is supposed to take geography into account and to avoid rematches in making the selections for the other bowls. Also, this year, if Florida State remains in the top four, then the committee must place a 2nd ACC team into the Orange Bowl (to replace the ACC champion Florida State). And they also must pick the best team available from either the Big 10 or SEC as the other team in the Orange Bowl. Finally, they need to determine the best conference champion from the next five conferences (American Athletic, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sunbelt), and that team will get one of the slots in the Fiesta, Cotton, or Peach Bowl.
Based on this week's rankings, beyond the top four (Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State), the following teams would receive spots in the other top bowl games-
TCU (presumably bound for Cotton or Fiesta Bowl based on geography)
Ohio State (presumably bound for Orange Bowl, as the highest ranked team available from Big 10 or SEC)
Baylor (presumably bound for whichever of Cotton or Fiesta Bowl is not taken by TCU)
UCLA (presumably bound for Cotton or Fiesta Bowl based on geography)
Georgia (presumably headed for Peach Bowl based on geography)
Michigan State (could presumably go to any game but Orange Bowl)
Georgia Tech (bound for Orange Bowl, as the highest ranked ACC team not in the national semifinals)
Boise State (presumably headed for Cotton or Fiesta Bowl based on geography)
With this lineup, the 12 teams in the six prestige games would be distributed as follows- ACC two, Big 10 two, Big 12 two, Pac-12 two, SEC three and Mountain West one. This would accomplish an unwritten goal which I believe the committee would like to follow- spread the wealth among the top five conferences, so that at least two teams are in from each conference.
A return trip to either the Cotton Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl would obviously be a welcome change for UCLA from such prior bowl appearances as the Silicon Valley Classic, the EagleBank Bowl, and the Fight Hunger Bowl. But just as obviously, we want more.
By the way, digging deeper into the mechanics of the College Football Playoff committee workings, there are 12 members on the committee. Three have West Coast ties- Pat Haden (Southern Cal ID), Condeleeza Rice (who is at Stanford, and apparently knows football cold) and Ty Willingham (ex- Stanford, Washington and Notre Dame coach). Andrew Luck's dad, who is the AD at West Virginia, is also on the committee, so presumably has a sense also of how the Pac-12 rolls. This can only help.
The committee meets in person to determine the rankings. And they are supposed to start from scratch each week. This doesn't always work out in practice, as the following transcript will demonstrate. As background, whenever a school is on the docket with a member with a vested interest, that member is supposed to recuse himself or herself. This is what transpired this week when Southern Cal came up for discussion with Pat Haden. This could help explain UCLA's small bump.
Committee chair Jeff Long (Arkansas AD)- "Pat, you need to leave the room, while we discuss your sorry ass excuse for a team."
Pat Haden- "Sorry ass?"
JL- "Yes, sorry ass. We didn't have you in the rankings at all two weeks ago. But then you brought really good danishes and coffee for everybody last week. So we moved you in at #19. And what did your team do? There wasn't a player from your team in the same zip code on that first TD pass to Lucien. And there wasn't a player from your team in the same zip code when Hundley waltzed into the end zone on his TD run. Like I said, sorry ass."
PH- "Listen, we could have done a little better. Is it my fault that we have players who do things like lie about being the human equivalent of Lassie, rescuing a nephew? Actually, don't answer that question. But UCLA is a great team. You need to move them way up in the rankings. Nobody could have come close to them on Saturday. So don't punish my team just because we played a real opponent, instead of those stupid SEC joke games. I'll leave now, but I only have one other comment. Condi- if they are out of the blueberry danish, I will pick up a pumpkin muffin for you, if that's okay."
So the upshot is- we didn't get the bump we hoped for because Southern Cal is indeed sorry ass. We need to keep taking care of business on the field the next two weeks. And then the chips will hopefully fall our way.
Go Bruins !!