The College Football Playoffs Rankings and Unpleasant Truths

Kin Kinsley
November 15, 2016

Updated College Football Playoff Rankings were released tonight and West Virginia fans across the universe are losing their minds, bless their hearts. There is probably no fan base with more of a “nobody respects us” inferiority complex than WVU. For me, the fan base has become the little boy that cries wolf. I hear it so often that I just roll my eyes. Tonight, there may be truth in it. However, I do have the ability to look beyond the ol’ gold and blue colored glasses.

For whatever reason, there are some things that many just can not wrap their heads around. Like it or not, they are truths. Unpleasant truths.


Unpleasant truth #1 – The committee is more concerned about big wins against top opponents than losses. You may not agree, but we are into the third year of the College Football Playoff and it’s been this way from year one.

Unpleasant truth #2 – Just because you have more wins or less losses than someone else does not mean that you will, or should, be ranked higher than them. This isn’t 1987 anymore. You need to look deeper.

I readily admit that there are some teams and things that I see above West Virginia that I cannot explain. Nobody outside the committee discussion room seems to be able to explain them either. When you have humans deciding, well…anything…there will always be subjectivity.

On an only somewhat related note, stop saying that the playoff needs to be expanded. Exclusivity is one of the things that makes college football the greatest game in the world. It’s like they hand out participation trophies in other sports. In college football you have to be good. Really, you have to be great.

National Basketball Association – 16 of 30 (53%) make the playoffs
National Hockey League – 16 of 30 (53%) make the playoffs
National Football League – 12 of 32 teams (37.5%) make the playoffs
Major League Baseball – 10 of 30 teams (33%) make the playoffs
NCAA Division 1 Basketball – 68 of 351 (19%) will make the tournament this season
NCAA FBS Football – 4 of 128 (3%) make the playoffs

Yes, there is some subjectivity in who gets in. People will get left out. On NCAA Basketball Selection Sunday, what is the first thing discussed once the teams are announced? Who was left out. You can keep adding and adding, but someone will always feel like the jilted bride. Unless you win every game and beat top tier teams out of conference you have no gripe. You should have done more.

That brings us to the Mountaineers, ranked 14th in tonight’s released rankings. One of the common themes I see tonight is “WVU is 8-1 and all other (major conference) one loss teams are in the top six.”

You are correct in that that assessment. You’ve looked at the wins and losses. Good for you!  Please, inform me of how many wins against the top 25 WVU has. If you need a hint, it’s a round number. Yes, they have ZERO wins against the top 25. If the Mountaineers had beaten Oklahoma State, they would have one. It would be over a team in the 20s, but a top 25 win nonetheless. It’s not about the “good losses.”

But hey, keep beating the “we’re 8-1” drum all day. I agree that WVU should be higher, but I’m simply pointing out a very significant reason that they are not.

Moving on to teams ahead of them:

#13 USC (7-3) – Yes, the Trojans have three losses.  At previously stated, teams aren’t punished as much for them as they are rewarded for wins.  Also, two of those three losses are to not only top 25 teams, but teams ranked ahead of them (Alabama and Utah).  The third loss?  To #24 Stanford.  They have also defeated two teams (Colorado and Washington) ranked ahead of them.  All of that is much more impressive than what West Virginia has done.  Sorry not sorry.

#12 Utah (8-2) – This one is a little tougher to explain.  However they do have one win over a top 25 team (USC) and one of their losses is to #6 Washington.  That’s one more top 25 win.

#11 Oklahoma State (8-2) – The Cowboys defeated WVU by 17 points.  That is all.

#10 Colorado (8-2) – This is a little questionable to me, but they do have an ugly 10-5 win over #25 Stanford.

#9 Oklahoma (8-2) – Though I think that Oklahoma is the better team, this one would have truly rendered me catatonic, if I wasn’t already used to some stupidity (see: Texas A&M in the first poll) this season.  They have 0 wins against the Top 25.  When Kirby Hocutt was asked about Oklahoma vs. West Virginia, this was his reply.


All I can come up with is that they just believe Oklahoma is better.  There’s no rationale saying they should be higher than WVU and may other teams they are ahead of.

#8 Penn State (8-2) – The schedule has been weak so far, other than two games.  They were destroyed by Michigan but defeated Ohio State for their lone Top 25 win.

#7 Wisconsin (8-2) – Not as it pertains to WVU, but I wonder about the love that Wisconsin is receiving.  They’ve lost to both Michigan and Ohio State and their lone win against the top 25 is against an LSU team that at the time was just not playing well.  Two of their wins (LSU and Georgia State) are against teams that fired coaches mid season.

#6 Washington (9-1) – Two wins (Stanford and Utah) against Top 25 teams.

#5 Louisville (9-1) – I do wonder about the smoke and mirrors here.  I get that the media loves them some Teddy Bridgewater…errrr…Lamar Jackson.  However, they have ZERO wins against the Top 25 and just two wins against teams with winning records.

#4 Clemson (9-1) – “How did Clemson not fall out after losing to Pitt?”  They have three wins against the Top 20 and also the best win (Louisville) of all teams in the top ten.  That is how.

#3 Michigan (9-1) – “How did Michigan not fall out after losing to Iowa?”  I admittedly asked that myself.  I don’t like Michigan, so I don’t pay attention to Michigan.  They have wins over three other top ten schools (Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin).  They defeated Colorado by 17 and Penn State by 39.

#2 Ohio State (9-1) – The Buckeyes have two wins (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) against teams in the top nine.  Their only loss was to #8 Penn State.

#1 Alabama (10-0) – If you don’t think that Alabama is the best team in the country, please go watch NFL football or something and leave college football to people that know it.

Even if I take out the two teams ahead of WVU that also have zero Top 25 wins, that would only move the Mountaineers to #12 and fans would still be complaining.  I’ve laid out the how and why for you.  If you think the Mountaineers should be in the top four, nothing I’ve written is going to change your mind.


If WVU had taken care of business against Oklahoma State, that zero in the loss column would hold a lot of weight.  For what it’s worth, I believe they would be sitting at #5 tonight.  Ohio State and Michigan still have to play.  If the Mountaineers were 12-0, I do believe they’d have made the College Football Playoff.  They didn’t take care of business and they didn’t beat the man.

They left a doubt and the committee has pounced on it.



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