Outside of the top six, which teams are truly in the 2016 College Football Playoff picture? With a dozen to pick from, only Florida and Utah stand out. Just win baby.
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I agree that the second tier is the action area for the next few weeks. When the committee rankings are released, we know who the top six schools are going to be. Here are all the squads that make up the second tier in my mind:
Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford, Iowa, Florida, Oklahoma State, Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida State and Ole Miss.
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I could be talked into adding the three American Athletic Conference teams as well because, as you pointed out for a different point, they will all play each other. Thus, if one finishes undefeated, it will have two more very good wins on its resume, assuming the other two schools don’t wilt before then. (Toledo still gets left out. Sorry Toledo.)
There is no easy way to separate these dozen-plus teams. I suppose Michigan and Ole Miss fall to the back of the pack because they each have two losses. Should Iowa and Oklahoma State rise because they are undefeated? I think it’s time to trot out some blind resumes and see who looks better without the title attached. These won’t be completely blind as you’ll be able to deduce who certain teams are by the information given, but it helps nonetheless.
For ranking purposes of opponents, I am going to refer to ESPN’s Football Power Index listing. I don’t know the formula, but it’s a better ranking than the outdated and biased human polls. Although, for clarification, the FPI ranking is current, whereas the poll rankings were dated at the time of the contest. For example, when Michigan State beat Oregon, the Ducks were ranked seventh in the country, but they have a ranking of 33 on the FPI.
Team No. 1
Zero wins out-of-conference against a top-50 school; two wins against top-15 schools; one loss to a top-10 school, came by one possession.
Team No. 2
One win out-of-conference against a top-50 school; zero wins overall against top-25 schools; undefeated on the road, which included two of its top three opponents.
Team No. 3
Zero wins out-of-conference against a top-50 school; two wins against top-20 schools, including one over a top-5 school; four wins over top-50 schools; one loss to a team outside of the top 50.
Team No. 4
One win out-of-conference against a top-15 school; four wins overall against top-50 schools; one loss to a top-5 school.
Let’s stop there because it’s already getting hard to decipher. What factors are best? Team 1 has good wins in-conference but played no one outside and has lost a game. Team 2 hasn’t really played anyone great yet. Team 3 has maybe the best set of wins but also a bad loss and nothing out-of-conference. Team 4 has a good win outside the conference and a bunch of good wins overall, with a “good” loss; it seems like the best perhaps, at least out of this group.
But Team 4 is Utah, a team that just lost its last game to a team that wasn’t ranked (according to the polls). FPI loves USC, which makes Utah’s loss look superior in this format.
In case you’re wondering, the other three teams are, in order, Florida, Iowa and Stanford.
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You blew the reveal! All joking aside, this is an excellent way to debate which of the second tier schools truly belong in the College Football Playoff conversation. Until one of those top six tier one schools eliminate themselves from the conversation, we can only include one or two of this second grouping. With only four playoff spots, its stupid to discuss more than eight teams at any given time. Half of them won’t make it, so that’s the cut off.
Out of the dozen teams lumped into tier two, I’m shocked that Alabama was not one of the top four teams you identified. The four ‘blind’ teams all have excellent resumes, but we disagree about who stands out. You liked team four, which was Utah. To me, they are second best.
Team one, which is Florida, stands out as the favorite to sneak into the playoff. The resume just jumps ahead of everyone else. Two wins against the top 15 is excellent. It proves they can beat the best teams in the country. One loss to a top 10 school by a single possession proves the same thing. They nearly won that game. If Florida had pulled off the victory, they would be undefeated, with three wins over top 15 schools. No out of conference wins certainly hurts, but their conference is solid. I’m putting them on top of this group.
Without going in blind, I would have picked Alabama or Notre Dame. But digging into the numbers, I love Florida coming out on top. Will they actually make the Playoff final four? Someone is going to have to lose, but that’s likely to happen. Both Florida and Utah will be running this race until the final week of the season.
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Staff Writer, and Featured Vlogger at BuzzChomp. He’s also Staff Writer for NFL Spinzone and a New York Jets Analyst for Pro Football Spot. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a Staff Writer for NFL Spinzone, a Featured Columnist at College Sports Madness, and an Analyst for Tipster Labs, among others. Follow him on Twitter.
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