The College Football Playoff Committee gets it right…and they will continue to get it right. After all, the playoff rankings are a subjective conglomerate of opinions from a bunch of people that are “in the know”. By now, we’ve all heard the same tired arguments about why each team should or should not be in the playoffs. Where a lot of us get lost is in that there are a few ways to argue which team is the best. Today, we are going to define that. And with that accomplished, we can do our best to try and find the top 4 teams by turning this into an objective exercise using computer ratings that account for these targets.
How do we define the “best” team?
To keep this simple, there are really two ways to define this:
- The politically correct way: These are the teams who “earned” their way in. Did you ring all of those bells and whistles? Did you win those head-to-head match ups? Did you win your conference championship game? Did you have a conference championship game? Did you go undefeated?
- The eyeball test: These are the more complete football teams. Did you win all your games without any issues? Did you win big? Did your team win with flash?
Who gets in under the politically correct system?
The DII Standard Rating is the perfect rating system to look for teams that fit the above criteria. The Standard Rating looks at game outcome, date and score differential (to a lesser extent) only. Record is, by far, the most important factor in this rating system. As of the season end, this is what the rankings look like:
1. Florida State
6. Mississippi State
7. Ohio State
Under the BCS system, we would have had an Alabama vs. Florida State match up. Florida State, being the undefeated winner of the ACC would have been a top of the computer polls, since those polls had their hands tied by not being allowed to use margin of victory. (Please note the irony in that).
Who gets in using the eyeball test?
Lucky for us, we have two rating systems that rank this. The first is the DII Aegis Rating system. It heavily weighs the margin of victory of the game. This is system is a much better predictor of future game outcomes. The second is the Vegas Rating. Here we use an algorithm that takes in all of the information from the sportsbooks and transcribe it into a number that suggests who would actually win in a game played today on a neutral field. As I’ve said in blogs before, Vegas knows best and it really is the best system there is for determining who is good and who isn’t As of the season end, this is what the Aegis rankings look like:
4. Mississippi State
7. Ohio State
16. Florida State
And what Vegas thinks:
10. Ohio State
12. Florida State
This stuff is all over the place, so who gets in
Even the most objective ratings have some subjectivity to them. To get the final rating at the end of the season, we use 60% of the Standard rating and 40% of the Aegis rating. It’s a personal belief that “earning” your way in should play a slightly bigger role than looking good doing it. The final four by this method is Alabama, Oregon, FSU and TCU. We have Ohio State at a distant seventh, but to argue that TCU, Baylor or Mississippi State should be in over them would be like arguing that tuna is better than salmon.
Stop being a homer, your team isn’t that good
Did people really think that the complaining would end when we got rid of the BCS. People argue over who gets left out of the 68 team NCAA basketball tournament so of course they are going to argue over who is going to be #4 instead of #5. There has been a barrage of complaining that we’ve all had to listen to over the past month while the committee has released the rankings. Below is why your team did NOT deserve to get in the 4 team playoff.
Actually, we have nothing on Alabama and Oregon. Both are in the Top 4 on every rating system out there so we think it is pretty clear that they deserve to be in the playoff, it’s the rest where it gets a little fuzzy.
Mississippi State, were you ever really in the final picture? We know that you are in the best conference in college football, but losing two out of your last 3 games, especially against a depleted Ole Miss team just isn’t going to cut it. No one is really going to look kindly on the only two loss team in the mix and aren’t we all a little sick of the SEC by now?
Baylor, is your defense really good enough to play against the big boys? 4-8 Texas Tech threw up 46 against you. How many points do you think ‘Bama would score? You had the weakest strength of schedule of the all the Top 7 teams, and sorry, you didn’t play in the championship game to make that schedule a bit tougher.
TCU, see Baylor rant. We actually feel bad and think you should have gotten the number 4 spot.
Ohio State, oh my, where do we begin? We all know that you want to throw that Wisconsin game in our face, but that is the first time you held a team under 24 points since you played Illinois back on the day after Halloween. The Big 10, is, well, the Big 10 and let’s not forget about that loss to a Virginia Tech team that needed to win it’s final game just to be bowl eligible. The good news is that you are in! That bad news is that you have to play Alabama and Vegas gives you about a 22% chance of winning. Shaq has a better chance of making two free throws blindfolded.
Florida State, your fans think you are the best team in the land. What is it, 29 straight games? How can anyone leave you out of the playoffs!?! We can start with the fact that there are 10 or 11 teams that would be favored over you on a neutral field. Don’t believe us? Mississippi State is a 7 point favorite in their bowl game against Georgia Tech. You were only a 3.5 point favorite over them in the ACC championship game. Should the “number 3” team in the country really be 9.5 point underdogs to the “number 2” team in the country, Oregon?
Stop complaining! The committee is doing a good job
We all wanted a playoff and we got one. This is a clear improvement over the BCS system and we should be thankful for it. Gone are the archaic “win and you don’t drop in the poll” days. Do you really think the AP and Coaches polls are a good indicator of the best teams? There are a variety of teams that had an argument and the committee did a great job. So please take off your team cap for a second, relax, sit back and enjoy the best sport in the country.
The ratings themselves can be found at: FBS Ratings.
More information on how these NCAA computer ratings are computed can be found on the Methodology page.