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College Football Playoff Rankings Analysis - 2023 CFP Scenarios After Championship Week

Michael Penix Jr. - CFB DFS Picks, Daily College Fantasy Football, NFL Draft Rookies

I don't envy the CFP committee right now. This is only the second time in the 10 years of the committee that they have a really difficult decision to make. It wasn't my Armageddon scenario, but it's close. There are five deserving teams this year. Six if you count back-to-back national champions Georgia, who had their best receiver and All-American tight end limping all over the field trying to make plays against Alabama.

We know that the committee values conference championships and even appearances in conference championship games. For that reason, one-loss Ohio State is out of the picture completely. They have also not penalized teams for playing a marquee out-of-conference game. Remember this tidbit for later.

Georgia messed up the CFP easy button. Leaving out a two-time champion is going to be tough and it's going to be an unpopular decision, but that's what will likely happen. Let's take a look.

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Who's Number 1?

If you have read my ranking piece this season, you know that Washington has topped my rankings for a while now. It's always a little unfair that a team drops after you beat them, making the win look less important. Washington beat Oregon twice – a team that I still think is a top-5 team. Top six at worst. Wins over Mountain West Champion Boise State and bowl-bound Cal, Arizona, USC, Utah, and Oregon State make a great case for the Huskies.

The Undisputed Number 2

I took a lot of shots at Michigan's schedule. UNLV and Bowling Green turned out to be solid wins, but the Big Ten outside of the Big Three was terrible. Iowa should be an 11-win team. That tells you how weak the rest of the Big Ten is/was. However, Michigan beat Penn State and Ohio State who are both going to big money bowls. And they beat Citrus Bowl-bound Iowa. That still counts for something, right?


Who's Number 3?

The CFP committee has never left the SEC champion out of the playoff. They won't this year either. I know that Texas is going to complain about beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa. That's a huge win. It deserves respect. However, the weak Big 12 schedule doesn't help the Longhorns. Beating up a hapless Oklahoma State team in the Big 12 championship didn't help either.

Look at Alabama's schedule. They beat Ole Miss. They beat LSU. The Tide have wins over bowl-bound Texas A&M, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Auburn as well. Texas' loss to Oklahoma in a rivalry game is understandable, and if the officials hadn't blown a blatant pass interference call, Texas might have gotten a rematch. It definitely would have helped their cause to beat the Oklahoma team that beat them instead of their little brother.


The Decision. Who's Number 4?

The committee has never left out an undefeated Power-Five team. To be fair, they've never had a reason to. This is where the loss of Jordan Travis really hurts Florida State. That said, the Seminoles stepped up and won the ACC with a true freshman quarterback in his first start. Why? This is a championship-level defense.

Reducing what Florida State did this year to the success of Jordan Travis is unfair. With the exception of the Boston College game, this Florida State defense was really good. Holding LSU to 24 points is a tough task...a task that even Alabama couldn't complete. This is obviously a less explosive team without Travis, but Florida State can still run the ball and they play excellent defense.

Let's not pretend that Texas doesn't have a significant injury as well. The loss of Jonathon Brooks is big. CJ Baxter is an excellent replacement, and like it or not, it is much easier to replace a running back than a quarterback.


Who's Getting In?

Michigan and Washington are both locks. There should be no debate there. The committee has also never left out a SEC Champion. Their set precedent says Alabama is in as well. That leaves three teams for one slot since we already eliminated Ohio State.

As previously stated, the committee has never left out an undefeated Power-Five team. Florida State's win over LSU looms large, but the weakness of the ACC (North Carolina and Miami falling apart) is going to hurt them. They are relying on convincing wins over Duke, Pitt, and Syracuse. Yikes. Playing a Louisville team that folded like a pop-up tent for the conference championship hurts too.

As for Texas, the close calls with Houston and Kansas State (they should have lost BOTH of those games) are not a good look. The convincing win over an Oklahoma State team that got stomped by UCF and lost to South Alabama is much less convincing. Their loss to Oklahoma is also the worst loss among one-loss teams. Even with the win over Alabama, that's going to be tough to ignore.

We know the committee loves the SEC. How much? Only Texas A&M in 2016 was left out of the playoff as a one-loss at-large SEC team. Georgia checks some committee boxes as well. They made the conference championship game and lost. Historically, teams haven't been penalized for that if possible.

The aforementioned stat of SEC at-larges looms large as well. Their loss is to the likely number three team and they beat a still top-10 Missouri on the road. Only Texas matches that. Washington's wins over Oregon were home and neutral. Bama's wins over Ole Miss and LSU were at home. Michigan beat Ohio State at home but did beat Penn State in Happy Valley. We can argue the merits of Penn State as a top-10 team all you want. I give the edge to Missouri there.

As I stated in the prior piece, Georgia will be weighed differently. They won back-to-back titles and had an undefeated regular season. The committee is going to have to buck a precedent that they hold dear. Do they leave out Alabama for losing to Texas at home? They have never left out the SEC Champion and haven't penalized teams for a tough OOC game.

Do they leave out undefeated Florida State? This one is a move they will think they can justify because of the Jordan Travis injury. It is so unfair to the other athletes on that team, but it is understandable.

Leaving out the Big 12 Champion is nothing new, but they haven't left out a Big 12 champion with a marquee OOC win. The Big 12 was also much worse this year than in most prior years. Sorry, but they are.

All this said I have almost zero confidence that this committee will make the right decision. Any decision will upset at least one fanbase, but this shows just how clueless they really are.

Also, their verbiage in the criteria is purposefully vague. They want the "four best teams." Well, if you go by the Bo Nix comment, that's Oregon, LSU, Alabama, and USC.


Gut Feelings

I hate the 12-team playoff. All of you know that. However, I am okay with an eight-team playoff because I always knew that something like this would happen at some point. This year, we would have Georgia, Alabama, Florida State, Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, Washington, and Oregon. No one should be able to poke holes in that.

The comment above has me nervous about what absolutely baseless excuse they could have for leaving out anyone but Michigan. Seriously. There is a toxic bias towards the West Coast on this (and all prior) committee(s). There always has been. Michigan and Washington made it easy. Florida State, Texas, and Alabama made it hard.

To make this perfectly clear, I don't know that I could narrow this field down to four teams either. If I were in a situation where I had to choose, it would be Washington, Michigan, Alabama, and Florida State in that order. Trust me, leaving out both Texas and Georgia is a really hard thing to do.

This season exposed the inherent flaws in a four-team playoff with five power conferences. So the conferences realign to make four power conferences and they expand the playoff anyway.

I have a feeling that Florida State gets left out because of the Travis injury. I also believe that Texas gets left out despite the win over Alabama. If the committee doesn't weigh a loss on those big OOC games heavily, it stands to reason that they won't weigh the wins heavily either. I honestly think this committee puts both Alabama and Georgia in.

First of all, Georgia's stars will all be healed by the first semifinal game. Jordan Travis wouldn't be. The committee values conference titles, but they have always valued the SEC over other conferences no matter what the conference SOS was in any given year. Texas won a weak conference and beat a weak number two team (yes...even weaker than Louisville or Iowa) in the conference title game.

We're scrapping this system after this year anyway. All of the bowl logistics are in place, so I want to see the committee come out tomorrow and say "This is too tough. We're going to be fair and have an eight-team playoff this year." That is the only rational solution to this.


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