The actions of the College Football Playoff selection committee have been quite divisive through the first two weeks of the poll this season (shocking, I know), and perhaps it’s no surprise that Penn State has been involved in somewhat of a controversy of the first two weeks.
As the CFP Poll debuted two weeks ago, it wasn’t too controversial that a 5-3 Nittany Lions squad that was riding a three-game losing streak wasn’t included among the Top 25 teams in the nation.
Yet, now as the Lions sit at 6-3, with wins over No. 17 Auburn and No. 18 Wisconsin and losses to No. 4 Ohio State and No. 20 Iowa, it’s very, very tough to justify the Lions — at the very least — not cracking the Top 25.
Of course, this is the same committee that ranks Wisconsin and Auburn over the Nittany Lions, despite head-to-head losses, while all three schools currently have the same record. It’s the same committee that ranked Michigan one spot ahead of Michigan State, despite the Spartans beating the Wolverines two weeks ago.
Obviously, head-to-head games aren’t the end all, be all of the ranking committee’s criteria for slotting the teams into their current spots, but… the actual games played have to be a pretty big part of the decision, right?
Iowa athletic director and CFP chair Gary Barta, when asked about Penn State, said the Lions were talked about more during the second week of deliberation and the Lions are seen as a good win this season. When asked about Michigan-MSU, he said Michigan was the more statistically complete team.
Barta on why Penn State is not ranked: "We talked about them more than we did a week ago. They are in the conversation and the committee sees them as a tough team to play. When somebody beats Penn State, it's seen as a good win."
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) November 10, 2021
If the head-to-head matchup isn’t the most important factor, and “statistical advantage” holds weight, then why is Ohio State behind Oregon? Oregon, with a loss to a bad Stanford team, is clinging to that win over the Buckeyes to maintain a playoff spot right now.
It’s just an example of the inconsistency of the committee this season. In looking at other scenarios, Iowa did beat Penn State this season, but if the “statistical advantage” is being played, then wouldn’t Penn State’s lead before Sean Clifford left the game count for something?
It’s clear the committee’s approach thus far has been flawed, but at the end of the day, the four best teams in the country will most likely be in the playoff. While a 12 team playoff is the best method… that’s a discussion for another day.
In the meantime, we can fret over the disrespect that Barta and the committee have given the Lions.
At the end of the day, yes, the CFP ranking doesn’t mean much. With three losses, the Lions’ end-of-season goals are already squashed, but if the Lions manage to run the table against Michigan, Rutgers and Michigan to end the season, a 9-3 record with the chance at 10 wins in a solid bowl game are better than nothing.
And with a loss to Michigan at Beaver Stadium Saturday, that’s all out the window.