Feast or Famine Time: Week 13 CFB Playoff Rankings Preview

Feast or Famine Time: Week 13 CFB Playoff Rankings Preview

WSU Football Blog

Feast or Famine Time: Week 13 CFB Playoff Rankings Preview

Hello Followers.  Hope you are doing great!

Today’s post is directed toward today’s College Football Playoff rankings and their implications for WSU’s chances to secure a bid in a New Year’s Six Bowl.  There are two bowls in the NY6 group that the Cougars could be assigned to:  The Fiesta Bowl, which kicks off the bowl triple header on New’s Day, and the Peach Bowl which is the prelude to the two National Semi-Finals on December 29th. Most pundits who place the Cougs in the NY6 predict a Fiesta Bowl berth due to Regional Considerations, but that may not be automatic if another west coast team (i.e., Boise State or Fresno State) are invited to the party or if there is a regional rivalry that gets played out in the Peach (e.g., Florida vs. UCF).

Tonight’s selection show is critical to WSU’s chances because there are only 3 “at large” slots that are “in play” (under most scenarios), and because the primary contenders for those spots (LSU, Florida, WSU, Penn State) are already in the club house with no chance to measurably improve their resumes.

Before I give you my predictions of what I think is going to happen, let’s quickly revisit the required tie-ins for the non-playoff bowls this year:

Rose Bowl:  Big 10 versus Pac-12 (no matter what)

Sugar Bowl: SEC versus Big 12 (no matter what)

Fiesta Bowl:  OPEN

Peach Bowl:  OPEN

Now, regarding those “open slots,” well, they’re not entirely open.  Under the *new* agreement, a Group of 5 team is required to fill one of the slots in those two open bowls.  For that reason, there are essentially THREE open spots that remain at-large once those tie ins are considered, all else equal.  Of course, all else is not equal when it comes to college football or championship weekend, and we’ll deal with that shortly.

For this reason, we’re going to start with a general rule of what WSU needs to nearly lock-in a New Year’s Six bid tonight, what would keep it alive for a New Year’s Six, and what would KILL WSU’s dreams of playing in a “New Year’s Day” quality bowl this year.

What I THINK WILL HAPPEN

Before I get to some concrete examples, I want to quickly give you tonight’s two most likely set of rankings.  In short, while much of the National Talk will be about the placement of teams 4-6, the real action tonight is what happens in slots 7-12 (and slightly beyond that).  Because while the primary role of the College Football Playoff Committee is to select teams for the Playoffs, it also is the exclusive agent charged with selecting the teams that will play in the Fiesta and Peach Bowls (i.e. the New Year’s Six).  And again, since the primary contending teams are already in the club-house, the rankings tonight will give us a strong indication of which team the Committee ideally wants to be in those games.

Here are last week’s rankings, followed by some quick #analysis:

  1. Bama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Michigan
  5. Georgia
  6. Oklahoma
  7. LSU
  8. WSU
  9. UCF
  10. Ohio State
  11. Florida
  12. Penn State

Okay, so a couple of things to consider about these rankings.  First, I have gone through each team’s resume extensively and if I were ranking the teams, I would have WSU ranked 11 or 12, ahead of Florida but behind a couple of teams that I think made considerable statements last week, including Washington who I think belongs in the Top 10 nationally.  But here’s the deal:

I think the Committee’s ENTIRE decision tonight–outside of the Oklahoma-Ohio State issue– is based on what they want to do with the University of Florida relative to WSU.  And that’s important because I do not see ANY WAY that the Committee can or will drop Florida this week after they beat Florida State by 41-14 in their rivalry game. I also don’t see the committee dropping LSU below Florida since LSU’s resume overall is still better than Florida by virtue of the Tigers’ pasting of Georgia at home in October.

So, if they decide that they want to “all-but” ensure Florida’s inclusion, then the Committee’s course of action will be to elevate them from the 11 slot and put WSU behind them. And if they do that, then the flood gates will be open to put Texas and Washington in front of WSU as well.  I have about 49.9% confidence in this scenario. And if it happens, it will look something like this:

  1. Bama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Georgia
  5. Ohio State
  6. Oklahoma
  7. UCF
  8. Michigan
  9. LSU
  10. Florida
  11. Texas
  12. UW
  13. WSU
  14. Penn State

Now, if this scenario happens it won’t be the final nail in WSU’s Coffin. But it will take multiple things to happen for us to get there.  I’ll get to those scenarios at the end of this post.

The “Other” and More Positive Scenario

Up to this point, the Committee has been remarkably stubborn in their rankings.  Their posture has been to slate the Top 10 teams in a certain order and only re-order them when the results have required them to do so.  Last week, 3 of the Committee’s Top10 teams lost (LSU, WSU, and Michigan). But in spite of those losses, I think the Committee might argue that the overall landscape of the NY6 changed has changed very little since last week, even if the order of the Top teams merit a strong shake-up.  And the way the Committee can advance that argument revolves around 2 points: (1)  LSU remains a Top10 team in spite of their 7-OT loss to A&M; and (2) A 10 win season in a power 5 league takes precedent over 9 win (3 loss) non-Division winner, all else equal.

Now, IF the Committee adopts that mindset, then I think we will see the following rankings tonight:

  1. Bama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Georgia
  5. Ohio State
  6. Oklahoma
  7. UCF
  8. LSU
  9. Michigan
  10. WSU
  11. Florida
  12. Texas
  13. Washington
  14. Penn State

I have 50.1% confidence in this scenario because I think (and also hope) that the Committee is as savvy as I think they are.  By adopting this ranking, the Committee would achieve two important outcomes: (1) They would effectively “set in stone” the order of who they want in the NY6 and (2) they would retain the flexibility they would want and need to elevate either Washington or Texas (or both) over Florida, WSU, and (perhaps) Michigan were either to emerge as 10 win conference champions by Saturday night.  And if either Washington or Texas were to lose, the top part of the rankings would generally remain unchanged, allowing the Committee to focus exclusively on the Ohio State versus Oklahoma debate and less on the NY6.

A FEW CASE EXAMPLES

 “The Optimal Case”

I’m going to start with the last set of rankings, which are obviously favorable to WSU.  What is important to note about these rankings in making projections is not WSU’s actual ranking, but their ranking relative to the other teams who are eligible for an at-large berth.  So, let’s play out a couple of scenarios based on the five most likely scenarios for playoff participation/championship Saturday. I am going to assume that the G5 team is Central Florida (UCF).

Ranking Order for “At-large” Teams.

  1. LSU
  2. Michigan
  3. WSU
  4. Florida

Scenario 1.  Georgia beats BAMA, Oklahoma and Ohio State win

Playoffs:  Georgia, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose:  Washington/Utah vs. Ohio State

Sugar:  Oklahoma vs. LSU

Peach:  Florida vs. UCF

Fiesta:  Michigan vs. WSU

In this scenario, Georgia’s spot in the Playoff vacates a spot in the Sugar. This allows Florida to gain a NY6 spot as LSU slides into that spot based on a better playoff ranking.

 

Scenario 2.   Ohio State in Playoff, Oklahoma wins

Playoffs: OSU, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose:  Washington/Utah vs. Michigan

Sugar:  Oklahoma vs. Georgia

Peach: UCF vs. Florida

Fiesta:  LSU vs. WSU

 

Scenario 3.  Oklahoma in Playoff, Ohio State wins

Playoffs: OU, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose: Washington/Utah vs. Ohio State

Sugar:  Texas vs. Georgia

Peach:  Michigan vs. LSU

Fiesta:  WSU vs. UCF

 

Scenario 4.  Ohio State in Playoff, Texas wins

Playoffs: OU, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose: Washington/Utah vs. Michigan

Sugar:  Texas vs. Georgia

Peach:  Oklahoma vs. LSU

Fiesta:  WSU vs. UCF

 

Scenario 5.  Oklahoma in Playoff, Ohio State Loses

Playoffs: OU, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose: Washington/Utah vs. Northwestern

Sugar:  Texas vs. Georgia

Peach:  Ohio State vs. LSU

Fiesta:   Michigan vs. UCF

So, you can see here that if the above rankings come to fruition, the only plausible way that WSU fails to get to NY6 is if Ohio State loses to Northwestern!

Go Bucks!!

“The Sub-Optimal Case”

Here are the case exampls that follow the other, sub-optimal set of rankings that I think the committee could take tonight.  Again, what is important is how the Committee ranks WSU relative to the teams competing for those at-large berths. So, let’s play out a couple of examples since we already know that a Northwestern win is a virtual death knell for the Cougs!

Ranking Order for “At-large” Teams in Sub-Optimal Case. 

  1. LSU
  2. Michigan
  3. Florida
  4. WSU

(if, at the end of the day, WSU finds itself ranked behind a 4 loss Texas or 3 loss Penn State, the Party is OVER friends!)

Scenario 1.  Georgia beats BAMA, Oklahoma and Ohio State win

Playoffs:  Georgia, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose:  Washington/Utah vs. Ohio State

Sugar:  Oklahoma vs. LSU

Peach:  Florida vs. UCF

Fiesta:  Michigan vs. WSU

In this scenario, Georgia’s spot in the Playoff vacates a spot in the Sugar. This scenario, however unlikely, is favorable to WSU.  LSU gets bumped up to Sugar, vacating an at-large spot for WSU to play in the Fiesta.

Scenario 2.   Ohio State in Playoff, Oklahoma wins

Playoffs: OSU, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose:  Washington/Utah vs. Michigan

Sugar:  Oklahoma vs. Georgia

Peach: UCF vs. Florida

Fiesta:  LSU vs. WSU

This scenario is also okay for WSU, all else equal.  With Ohio State in teh playoff, Michigan, once an at-large team, now goes to Rose which opens a spot for WSU in the Fiesta.

GO BUCKS!

Scenario 3.  Oklahoma in Playoff, Ohio State wins

Playoffs: OU, BAMA, Clemson, and Notre Dame

Rose: Washington/Utah vs. Ohio State

Sugar:  Texas vs. Georgia

Peach:  Florida vs. UCF

Fiesta:  LSU vs. Michigan

Here, WSU gets bumped as two SEC at-larges + Michigan spell DOOM for WSU.

So, that pretty much covers it folks.  Of course, we’ll pretty much know the outcome as soon as they flash that 11-15 group.  But if my hunch is correct, look straight at that #11 line.  If Florida is there, I would bet that we’re good.  And if they’re not, well, that just not good news for us!

I’ll be back near the weekend to sum stuff up and provide a final look at the Cougs’ New Year’s prospects sometime Friday or Sunday.   Let’s hope for the best, but also prepare for the worst!

All for now. Go Cougs!

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