Projecting The College Football Playoff: Mississippi State, Florida State, Oregon and...


The College Football Playoff committee releases its initial Top 25 tonight. We have a few quibbles with this.

The committee itself is a cop out. The committee will use math, but not conclusive math. It will consider conference championships, but not mandate them. It will move away from flawed polls, but still decide by polling. It will have guidelines, but not specified ones that could force the committee’s hand. It will make a decision, but one that has no conclusive value. As with the BCS, it will only work when there is no decision to make.

Publishing weekly Top 25 polls is asinine. It is irrelevant to the task at hand. Who cares whether the committee thinks Alabama is better than Auburn in October? That will be settled for them on the field. It opens the process to criticism, criticism that will bully it toward prevailing public wisdom. The only purpose is to build publicity for the playoff, publicity the playoff demonstrably does not require.

Breaking down game film is just busywork. This decision is about evaluating a set of information. Any 12 humans can do this. One does not need to grasp the finer points of pass blocking. Extensive eyeball testing just breeds distortion and irrefutable opinions. Comparing across conferences may be tricky. You don’t need the All 22 to figure out seven B1G teams rank in the Top 30 of yards/play defense because B1G offenses stink.

Quibbles accounted for, here is our college football playoff at this stage. Again, this isn’t a ranking. We’re not choosing between Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss. That’s not a decision the committee will have to make. While we think multiple Pac 12 teams have more impressive resumes than Michigan State, one of them will be contending with the Big Ten champion for selection.

Four In

1. Mississippi State: A no-brainer for No. 1. The SEC West is the nation’s best division. Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs remain unscathed. Beating Auburn by two touchdowns may be the best stand-alone win.

2. Florida State: This Florida State team looks vincible. But, thus far, no one has accomplished it. The Seminoles are 7-0 playing in a major conference. Whatever credit Notre Dame derives from that great game, FSU won it.

3. Auburn: Auburn’s schedule is absurd. The Tigers are still 7-1. They won on the road in Manhattan. They obliterated LSU by five touchdowns. Their loss was on the road to the nation’s No. 1 team. They have done the most among the other one-loss teams. They belong here now. This place could be taken by Alabama. It could be taken by Ole Miss. It could be Mississippi State should one of the aforementioned win the division. We will find out.

4. Oregon: The Pac 12 is not the nation’s best conference, but it is the deepest. Even Colorado is frisky this year. The Ducks beat Michigan State by three touchdowns. They went away from home and won against competitive Washington State, UCLA and Cal teams. They crushed a decent Washington at home. Oregon’s one loss came to a Top 20 Arizona team in a back and forth game, on a weird call while the Ducks were dealing with extensive injuries.

Three Out

TCU: The Horned Frogs beat Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. We’ll see how those wins look at the end of the season. They came extremely close to dumping Baylor on the road. They dropped Minnesota, one of the better Big Ten teams, by three touchdowns. Do they have that marquee win that says they belong? Will they get it?

Notre Dame: The Irish looked playoff ready against Florida State, while losing. The problem for them, right now, is their major victories or lack thereof. Their best win was a narrow one at home against a good, but not great Stanford. Their second-best win was evading a 4-4 North Carolina team in a shootout at home?

Michigan State: The Spartans may be among the nation’s four best teams. How does one prove that exactly? Michigan State played Oregon, and lost by three touchdowns. Their best win was a narrow one against Nebraska at home, where the Spartans gave up three 4th quarter touchdowns and nearly blew a 24-point lead. Their second best win thus far is…Michigan. Seriously. Mark Dantonio can take things as personally as he wishes, Michigan State still needs teams in front of his to lose.

For Fun: An Eight-Team Playoff

We preferred an eight-team playoff. For fun, here is that projected forward. Our parameters below.

* Mathematical formula ranks all teams

* Five major conference champions earn automatic bids, three at large teams.

* Four top champions, or independent with a ranking within top four get home field in 1st round.

* No inter-conference matchups in 1st round

1. Mississippi State (SEC) vs. 8. Arizona (AL)

2. Florida State (ACC) vs. 7. Michigan State (B!G)

3. Oregon (P12) vs. 6. Notre Dame (AL)

4. TCU (B12) vs. 5. Auburn (AL)

Anyone not glued to the TV for that? Or not think that’s going to happen sooner rather than later?

[USA Today Sports]