CFP Selection Committee loves mediocre Big Ten football

The CFP Rankings came out Tuesday night and once again reminded us that teams 11-25 are a tool to justify certain selections at the top. More than that, though, the rankings occur in November in order to create controversy and get people to watch ESPN. That’s before achieving their real goal of getting people to watch ESPN in late December and early January.

The only reason to share CFP rankings this early in the season is for ESPN to build shows around it and please advertisers.

This particular version of the CFP Rankings might be the worst they’ve put out. Mississippi State is one of the prime examples. They are 5-3 and get in at #17 largely due to a win over Texas A&M, who was 3-2 when the game was played.

Gary Barta, CFP Chair, said:

“Really in Mississippi State’s case specifically, I’ll just tell you the committee really focused on – those three wins impressed the committee enough to put them at 17.”

In CFP logic, a win over NC State trumps losses at Memphis and at home to LSU (both came after the NCSU win). Then the Bulldogs beat the Aggies before Alabama embarrassed them by 40 (MissSt never scored a TD in the game and had 21 rush yards). Then MSU beat Kentucky at home which qualifies as a good win even though Kentucky has no good wins themselves.

The MasseyComposite, a football ranking comparison tool that uses over 70 computer models to form a consensus, has Mississippi State 34th in the country. 34th! Sagarin has them at 32. There’s no metric outside of the committee that ranks Miss State 17th in the country.

The Committee is fond of saying that they use computer models to inform but not to make decisions. Fine. But those computer models are all that Wisconsin has propping them up.

Wisconsin, also 5-3, is #21 in the CFP Poll while being one of the worst offenses in the country. They average 21.9 points per game, 110th nationally (I got it wrong on Twitter Tuesday night when I said under 20). They have three passing TDs and 9 interceptions. The Badgers are 125th in passing efficiency, 125th in third down conversions, 115th in turnover margin, and it goes on and on. They are ranked 80th or worse nationally in 18 of 46 statistical categories.

Wisconsin was blown out by Notre Dame (neutral field), blown out by Michigan (at home), and lost to a mediocre Penn State team that has lost three in a row and is not in the CFP. Losing to Michigan and ND aren’t a huge issue but losing by a combined 49 points? In their five wins, Wisconsin rushes for 280 yards a game. In the three losses? 101 yards (in the two blowouts, it was 60.5 yards a game rushing). How does a team like that get rewarded?

How is Minnesota, who lost to 3-6 Bowling Green at home, in the rankings at 20? Their best win is 5-3 Purdue. Pitt is 6-2 and #25 but lost to a mediocre Western Michigan team at home and to Miami at home this week. And what about Iowa? They Hawkeyes have lost two games in a row, scoring seven points in each of those losses but is ranked #22. Their best wins all have three losses. What is the obsession with the Big Ten other than to prop up Michigan State and Ohio State?

Meanwhile, UTSA at 8-0 doesn’t even get a cursory nod at #25.

I say all of this not to suggest UH should be ranked. I don’t think UH is deserving of a CFP spot at this point. The record is great but the schedule has been awful, rated 115th by Massey based on games played to this point. With USF (#107 in Massey), Temple (120), and UConn (129) coming up in November, it won’t be getting any better.

UH has taken care of business since the first game of the season but it hasn’t always been pretty. And while the SMU win was a good one, it’s not enough to overcome Tulane, Rice, and Navy. Massey says UH’s best win outside of SMU is Tulsa, ranked #87. That’s not enough.

But surely there’s an argument to be made for UH vs. MissSt, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Right? Even a present-day BCS simulation says that Minneosta and Mississippi State don’t deserve while putting UH, SMU, and UTSA in there.

The Committee was a mistake.

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