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#DearAndy: Playoff ranking surprises, committee biases
4:27 | College Football
#DearAndy: Playoff ranking surprises, committee biases
Wednesday November 12th, 2014

I put out the call for questions on Twitter a few minutes after the College Football Playoff selection committee announced its rankings, and boy howdy did they come flooding into the feed. If the goal of these silly weekly rankings was to get us talking more about the sport, mission accomplished.

Here are the questions answered in the video:

  • Which team stands to gain the most this weekend?
  • Is the committee biased toward higher scoring teams?
  • Does Ohio State still have a chance to make the playoff?

Read on for more questions and answers…

From @Baylorado: If strength of schedule weighs heavier than head-to-head, would you make Alabama the champion even if they lose to Florida State in the national championship game?

The Twitter handle should give away where he’s going with this. The committee ranked TCU ahead of Baylor even though both play in the Big 12, both are 8-1 and Baylor beat TCU head-to-head.

In the scenario described in the question, obviously the team that won the national title game would be declared the national champ. But using the logic the committee is using to rank TCU ahead of Baylor, that wouldn’t be the case. TCU’s win against Minnesota is better than any of Baylor’s out-of-conference wins, but 7-2 Minnesota could be 7-5 Minnesota in three weeks after playing Ohio State and at Nebraska and Wisconsin. That probably shouldn’t trump the head-to-head result. Considering that TCU barely got out of Morgantown with a win, Baylor’s loss at West Virginia also shouldn’t be enough to trump head-to-head.

My guess is that if both teams finish 11-1, Baylor will eventually move ahead of TCU by virtue of the fact that the Bears would be the real Big 12 champs. Co-champs are fine when coaches want to make championship rings, but everyone saw the game. If both are 11-1, their resumes will be nearly identical. Head-to-head should be the ultimate tiebreaker when two teams have close resumes.

• ROUNDTABLE: Does TCU deserve No. 4 in the playoff rankings?

From @clayivester17: Will the TCU/Baylor logic apply to Alabama and Mississippi State if Alabama wins Saturday? It’s the same situation.

Almost, but not quite. If Alabama beats Mississippi State on Saturday in Tuscaloosa and Mississippi State wins the remainder of its games, Alabama would have the head-to-head win but the worse loss (at Ole Miss, where Mississippi State would have won in this hypothetical). The Crimson Tide would be analogous to Baylor in this situation. Mississippi State would have the best loss (at Alabama) but would have lost the head-to-head. The Bulldogs would be TCU.

Because the SEC has a championship game, someone would have to represent the West. That would be Alabama, which would get a chance to win another game.

What makes this situation different is that like Baylor, Mississippi State scheduled nothing but ham sandwiches in its out-of-conference slate. Alabama scheduled West Virginia and three ham sandwiches. Alabama’s win against West Virginia would negate any debate. (Though I don’t think there would be any debate even if Alabama had gone full ham-sandwich. Head-to-head would have been respected in this case.)

• ​INSIDE READ: Early NFL exodus allows other teams to catch Alabama

Of course, all the TCU backers arguing that performance against West Virginia explains why the Horned Frogs should get the nod over the Bears should be careful how strenuously they argue that point. If how a team did against the Mountaineers matters that much, Alabama should be ranked ahead of Baylor and TCU.

From @MDance86: Why is no Group of Five team (Colorado State, Boise State, Marshall) ranked yet?

A Group of Five team has been ranked by the committee. East Carolina came in at No. 23 in the first rankings the committee released, but the Pirates fell out after they lost to Temple. It’s likely East Carolina would have fallen out anyway as its signature win (Virginia Tech) continued to look less impressive.

Why aren’t Colorado State, Boise State or Marshall ranked? Because the committee doesn’t think their resumes are as good as the teams ranked ahead of them. To explain, let’s do a little role playing…

Committee member No. 1: This team is 9-1. I think we should consider it.

Committee member No. 2: Oh, that’s a great record. Who did they lose to?

Committee member No. 1: Boise State.

Committee member No. 2: That’s not terrible. The Broncos are 7-2. So who did this 9-1 team beat?

Committee member No. 1: The best wins are against Colorado and Boston College.

Committee member No. 2: And?

Committee member No. 1: Nevada and Utah State.

Committee member No. 2: Oh.

Aaaaaaaaand, scene.

A Power Five team whose best wins were Boston College and Colorado would stand no chance of getting ranked. The committee isn’t supposed to grade on a curve.

From @SirDuxALot: If the committee includes injuries, why aren’t my Ducks LOWER? Two All-Americas out and a potential All-America in tight end Pharaoh Brown. They should drop, no?

This is a very interesting question because the committee is supposed to consider injuries and their effect on a team. With Oregon, the committee is obviously using the rash of early offensive line injuries to excuse the loss to Arizona, but it clearly wasn’t concerned about the injuries Brown and center Hroniss Grasu suffered at Utah or else it wouldn’t have pushed the Ducks to No. 2 this week. I guarantee Oregon coaches were very concerned when they saw Grasu hurt his knee Saturday.

If Grasu can recover by the Pac-12 title game, Oregon should be OK, but playing without the glue of the offensive line against another potential playoff contender would be troublesome. That the committee bumped Oregon up in spite of Grasu’s injury could be interpreted as positive news for the Ducks. While they don’t discuss injuries publicly, injury information can be passed along discreetly to the committee. So maybe Grasu will be fine.

From @couple_of_guys: If Alabama wins out and Mississippi State only has one loss, does Florida State get left outside of the top four?

Prior to Tuesday’s rankings, I would have immediately dismissed this notion. Now I’m not so sure. The committee dropped the Seminoles from No. 2 to No. 3, and the worst-case scenario for all the non-SEC teams in contention is Alabama winning Saturday and the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs winning the rest of their games. If the Alabama-Mississippi State game in that scenario is close, it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see both of those teams make the playoff.

What would be shocking is to see an undefeated Florida State left out. Oklahoma State has not helped the Seminoles’ strength of schedule, and Notre Dame’s loss at Arizona State further harmed Florida State’s case, but it’s still tough to imagine a 13-0 Florida State team on the outside looking in.

It’s less difficult to imagine Florida State losing a game. Vegas has cooled on the Seminoles, evidenced by the fact that they are favored by only 2.5 points Saturday at Miami. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston publicly chided himself for his six interceptions in the Seminoles’ past three games. If those continue, Florida State could get upset. Plus, Florida developing a semblance of an offense to go along with what has become a salty defense makes that game appear a tad more challenging for Florida State.

Realistically, the Seminoles should make the playoff if they finish undefeated. But this week’s rankings prove the committee is #TalkinBoutTheNoles.

• RICKMAN: Florida State clings to top spot in this week's Power Rankings

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