College Football Playoff: I have an issue with where Penn State and Minnesota are ranked
Let me start this week by asking a question: are you starting to lose a little more of your hair every Tuesday evening? The vigorous head scratching that I do each week when the College Football Playoff committee releases its rankings has left me with dull fingernails and a prescription for a hair growth supplement.
It was more of the same this week when the third edition of the rankings were released on Tuesday night. The top seven spots remained unchanged and there was some reshuffling at the No. 8 through No. 10 spots on the board. To recap, here’s what the top 10 looked like this week:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
Anything stick out with that top 10, most notably at the No. 8 and No. 10 slots? In case you don’t see a problem there, Penn State is two spots ahead of Minnesota, despite the Golden Gophers defeating the Nittany Lions two Saturdays ago in Minneapolis. It doesn’t make much sense, does it?
While Minnesota can certainly gripe about the current situation — placed two spots behind Penn State despite owning the head-to-head advantage — that’s actually not the issue I have with the selection committee’s rankings. In fact, I really don’t have any problem with the Nittany Lions being ahead of the Golden Gophers this week.
College Football Playoff committee chair Rob Mullens actually had a pretty good explanation why Penn State is ahead of Minnesota this week.
“Well we certainly had a lot of discussion and if you’re in the room there’s a lot of things that we consider. Head to head is one piece, they also had a conference loss to Iowa, an opponent who Penn State beat,” Mullens said. “And then you look at Penn State’s resume and the win’s against Michigan is impressive, and they have the best non-conference win, beating a 7-3 Pittsburgh team.”
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Logically, that makes sense. Mullens is essentially saying that because Penn State has two quality B1G wins (No. 13 Michigan and No. 17 Iowa) and a non-conference victory over Pitt (7-3), a Power Five opponent, it deserves to be ahead of Minnesota despite the head-to-head outcome.
Penn State, without question, should be higher. If the committee is putting that much of an emphasis on quality wins, strength of schedule and non-conference schedule, Penn State should easily be inside the top five, if not occupying that No. 4 spot.
Heading into Week 13, Penn State possesses the following resumé:
- 9-1 overall record; only loss to No. 10 Minnesota
- Four wins over Power Five teams with 7+ wins (Pitt, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana)
- Two wins over teams currently ranked (No. 13 Michigan, No. 17 Iowa)
- Combined FBS opponent record: 54-36
That’s a pretty strong resumé. And it’s even more baffling as to why Penn State is at No. 8 when you look at the three teams sitting in the No. 5 – No. 7 spots. Alabama, Oregon and Utah have combined to make up half of those totals.
Alabama, Oregon and Utah are all 9-1, but have combined for:
- Two wins over Power Five teams with 7+ wins (Texas A&M, USC)
- One win over teams currently ranked (No. 23 USC)
Georgia has been sitting comfortably in that No. 4 spot, and while you can single out that ugly home loss to a bad South Carolina team, I can at least understand the Bulldogs being in the picture. UGA is 9-1 with three wins over ranked opponents, beating No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 11 Florida and No. 15 Auburn.
Piling up that many ranked wins is certainly worthy of some recognition. Putting Georgia ahead of Penn State isn’t all that crazy when comparing schedules and quality wins. But it’s hard to argue that the Nittany Lions should be any lower than fifth based on their credentials.
If Penn State’s resumé isn’t good enough to trump the likes of Alabama, Oregon and Utah, then the committee is essentially saying the Nittany Lions are more comparable to Minnesota. And, if that’s the case, why wouldn’t the Gophers be in that No. 8 spot with PSU at No. 10? The difference should be, in that case, the head-to-head outcome, right?
See why I’ve been scratching my head? It really doesn’t make any sense. Maybe my mind is too simple for the explanation.
Tuesday night was just another example that the committee continues to be inconsistent in its ranking process, leaving us all confused about the criteria each and every week. It’s also why I’m still trying to find the best hair growth supplements through a Google search.