Many UH fans insist that, even after the SMU loss, the Coogs are still in prime position to go to the NY6. They believe that all we need is Fresno State to lose a game and for the Coogs to beat UCF.
The data suggests that even at 10-2, with an AAC title and a Fresno State loss, UH is still not in the lead for the NY6 spot. GoCoogs.com takes a deep dive into the data:
What the Committee Seeks
In comments following the first two CFP Rankings, selection chair Rob Mullens has been upfront about what the Committee sees in UCF. It’s a good example of what they’ll want out of any G5 representative.
Here are a few of Mullens’ remarks:
From Week 1: “UCF is an excellent team, and as you know, they’re undefeated. However, they’re the only team in the country that has not played a game against a team that currently has a winning record.” (Since these comments, UCF has beaten 5-4 Temple and Memphis and Pitt have gone above .500).
“They have an experienced quarterback, a quality offense, and that goes into that mix when you line it up. It’s part of the data, including the strength of schedule, but it is also part of what you see on the eye test.
There was a lengthy discussion, obviously, given the strength of schedule issue, but you balance that against what you see when you watch the games. So lengthy discussion, as there is about a lot of teams. But 7-0, quality quarterback, good offense.”
After the Temple game: “Obviously they have a powerful offense. McKenzie Milton continues to lead that powerful offense, but hen you watched their game last week you could see the defensive struggles. They gave up nearly 700 yards to Temple. Again, that is a piece of it. Strong offense, struggling on defense.”
On breaking down offensive and defensive efficiencies: “Our conversations are robust. We discuss in detail the various strengths and weaknesses of the teams we rank. We’ll talk about their offenses, their defenses, and the impact an injury can have. We challenge ourselves to be sure that we get it right.”
On the importance of beating teams with winning records (From week 1): “One reason one-loss LSU is ranked No. 3 ahead of an undefeated Notre Dame is because they’ve beaten six teams with a winning record.”
On the importance of SOS: “Three teams in our top 25 have three losses. The committee looked deeply at the games these teams have played and were impressed with their schedules. For example, Texas A&M is a strong 5-3 team because their losses were against No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson.”
Mullens identified SOS, beating teams with a winning record, good losses, offensive and defensive efficiencies, and the eye test as key metrics. With his comments as the guide, I want to look at who might slip in if UCF slips up.
Higher G5s, Top 50 W/F, and Worst Loss are all relative to each rating system. The numbers vary accordingly.
- Fresno, UH, Boise, and App State each have a really bad loss (Sagarin and ESPN consider UH’s worst loss close to bottom quartile).
- Boise’s schedule stands out and they play the two-best MWC teams in the next 3 weeks.
- The Massey Composite, an average of 111 ranking systems, says there are 10 G5 teams ahead of the Coogs (UCF, Fresno, Utah State, Cinci, Boise, Buffalo, UAB, App State, SDSU, and UNT).
- Five of the 7 teams have regular season games left with top 50 teams (including 2 for Boise) but App State and UH have none. All but App State would play a top 50 team in their conference title game.
- Three of the 4 rating systems – the Massey Composite, the Sagarin, and ESPN FPI – don’t have any of the 7 contenders’ wins in the top 50. Massey has Pitt in the top 50 – a team UCF beat. This will change over the next few weeks.
- According to Massey, UH has the worst schedule among the group and it gets worse if you don’t consider App State a legit contender. UH is 110th overall and 5th among G5 contenders in the Sagarin SOS.
- UH has two games left on the schedule vs. teams over .500. But if the Coogs beat Temple, they are no longer on the list. Memphis, at 5-4, goes to SMU and faces Houston in the final two weeks. They could fall off. And UCF’s 3 wins over .500+ teams are all 5-4 and could drop from this list as early as Saturday.
- All 4 systems have UH as the lowest-rated among the group.
- In team efficiencies, UH comes in last again. While the Coogs are the highest-rated offense, we also have the worst defense by over 30 spots in the ratings. Our special teams are considered second-worst as well.
Can UH Make The NY6 In Any Scenario?
Best case scenario for UH: The Coogs sweep the rest of the season, win the AAC title game, and finish 11-2. Then what?
If Utah State or Fresno win the MWC with 1 loss, that’s the ball game. They go to the NY6. If Boise beats Fresno and Utah State in the next few weeks and then Fresno again in the MWC title game, the Committee will choose 11-2 Boise over the 11-2 Coogs.
Boise’s numbers are better than UH’s currently and, even with a UH win over UCF, Boise’s 3 big wins coming in would trump the Cougar resumé.
I also believe a 12-1 MWC champ goes to the NY6 before a 12-1 Cincinnati, too. If the MWC champ loses a regular season game coming in, UH and Cinci might still be alive. Maybe.
If Fresno loses to Boise tonight then wins the title game, I don’t think UH’s 11-2 resumé is good enough to overtake them. Fresno is ahead of UH in every category listed above except offensive efficiency – but they rank 78 spots higher than the Cougars in defensive efficiency. A loss to Boise doesn’t kill Fresno due to the emphasis on playing quality teams.
If Boise loses to Fresno then Utah State loses to Boise, UH might have a chance at the NY6. Utah State would still go to the MWC title game and if the Aggies beat Fresno and finish with a record of 11-2, their resumé would be closest to UH’s.
But their only loss currently is to Michigan State, #18 in the CFP Rankings. If you think a potential Boise loss is similar to Texas Tech, that’s fine. But their loss to Sparty is far superior than ours to the Ponies.
If UCF fails to win the American, it is highly unlikely that either Cincinnati or Houston goes over a 12-1 MWC champ or an 11-2 Boise State team. A win for Cinci over UCF and a conference title would raise their profile quite a bit. And UH would be bolstered a lot by winning the league title. But enough to overtake the MWC champ? In almost all scenarios, no.
UH would need absolute chaos in the MWC over the next 3 weeks – something like Utah State losing to 1-8 SJSU and 3-6 Colorado State but beating Boise and then winning the MWC title.
A note to our readers:
We have made this Cougars By The Numbers free to you in order to demonstrate the value of a GoCoogs Insider subscription. Most of our data-driven articles like this one are subscriber-only content.
You can subscribe to GoCoogs Insider and get premium content just like this as well as in-depth analytics and our subscriber-only message board. Be a part of the fastest-growing Cougar Community and join GoCoogs Insider.
You can read more about GoCoogs Insider or subscribe below.
Choose Your Membership Plan: