I keep hearing and seeing people write the first College Football Playoff Rankings don’t mean anything.
I heard the same rhetoric about the Associated Press and Coaches Polls, too.
“Clemson should not worry about what the pollsters says because when the College Football Playoff Rankings are released, that’s the poll that matters.”
I have heard that for the last five weeks. Well, what do you think now?
The CFP Committee released its rankings Tuesday night and Clemson became the first defending national champion to be ranked outside the top 4 in the playoff era. Just like they are the first preseason No. 1 team to drop to No. 4 in the AP rankings, at this point in the season, despite not suffering a loss.
“But Will, Clemson almost lost to North Carolina.”
Oh yeah, that is right. I forget! Never in the 86-year history of the AP Poll has the top-ranked team struggled to win a game. I forget that every No. 1 team in history has blown out every team it has played and has never struggled to win a football game. How naïve of me!
Look, the one thing this year’s CFP Committee did say with its rankings on Tuesday night is that public perception does matter.
Clemson isn’t ranked No. 5 in the CFP because of “advanced metrics” or “the eye test.” If those factors were used, they would be ranked ahead of Alabama and Penn State.
Penn State has a better strength of schedule than both Alabama and Clemson, yet, Alabama is ranked No. 3, Penn State No. 4 and Clemson No. 5.
However, Clemson’s offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency rankings are, combined, better than both Alabama’s and Penn State’s. Clemson is ranked higher than Penn State by both the FPI and the S&P. Yet, the Tigers are the team looking in from the outside.
“But Will, Ohio State and Penn State have to play each other, and Alabama and LSU play this weekend. If Clemson just keeps winning, they will be in the CFP because those others will beat each other.”
The committee made a statement last night that Penn State and Alabama are better than Clemson based on the “eye test.” So, if the Alabama-LSU loser drops a close game this weekend, will the committee push Clemson up or will they revert back to the eye test or Clemson’s lack of strength on its schedule?
If Penn State loses a heartbreaker to Ohio State in a few weeks, will Clemson jump Penn State, who the committee obviously views as a better team than Clemson?
Also, how will the national media perceive those games and those losing teams? I can see the narrative now, “Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the world. Even with one loss, LSU is better than Clemson.”
“Penn State went toe-to-toe with Ohio State, who has the greatest team we have ever seen. There is no way Clemson can play with Penn State or Ohio State on a neutral field.”
Yes! If those games go like I wrote above, that narrative will be out there. The chances of Clemson moving up higher than No. 3 is slim at best and the Tigers definitely don’t want to go into conference championship week sitting at No. 4 with a one-loss LSU or Penn State team sitting at No. 5.
The committee has made its stance on Clemson. The national media has done its job to make Clemson look like a weak team and not worthy of making the playoffs. The CFP committee was obviously influenced by this notion because if they truly used “the eye test” when comparing Clemson to Alabama and Penn State, there is no way they would think those two teams are better than Clemson.
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