Saturday, January 03, 2015

Random College Football Thoughts

So far the college football bowl season has been going good for a change. A few thoughts:

I guess they belong

Ohio State was the last of four teams in the college football playoff. Boise State was the "group of 5" team that squeezed into the access bowl. Both one close games, that really weren't all that close.

PR firms don't help on the football field

Baylor hired a PR firm to plead their case for inclusion in the playoff. They had only lost one game and beat the other one-loss team in their conference, therefore they should be in the playoff. What the conveniently did not mention was that they also lost by two touchdowns to West Virginia - a team that TCU beat. And that victory over TCU? Well, it was come-from behind win by 3 points at Baylor. If you go by Sagarin's example of a 3 point home edge, that amounts to a tie. A quick eye test shows that TCU looks like the better team. They also had a stronger non-conference schedule, with the game against Minnesota. The playoff committee saw that also and had TCU ranked higher than Baylor. Alas, Baylor played spoiled brat, and claimed it should be conference champion and thus be in the playoff. Luckily, Ohio State provided an easy way out. Its dominant performance in the Big 10 championship game allowed it to take the final playoff spot. The rankings could then show Baylor ahead of TCU. However, the result was largely meaningless as they would both make New Years games. TCU then pummeled Mississippi, while Baylor lost as Michigan State managed a come from behind win. The law of averages to the rescue.

Boise State to the rescue

Marshall had left the playoffs in a pickle. They were undefeated, but they hadn't played a strong schedule. The playoff rankings barely even included them. But they had not lost. Florida State was also undefeated and seemed a shoe in, despite barely squeaking by many of its opponents. Luckily, Eastern Carolina defeated Marshall in overtime, freeing things up. Boise State was conveniently the Mountain West champion and had only two loses. They had the brand reputation. Everybody heard of them and nobody would complain if they played in a "big bowl". It was also very convenient that they lost a game to Air Force early in the season. Without that loss, Boise's only loss would be to Mississippi. That's the same team that gave Alabama its only regular season loss. It would make for a nice controversy if Boise and Alabama both won. Luckily, the Air Force loss meant there was no argument for playoff inclusion. Boise's victory over Arizona further showed that Boise belonged with the Big Boys.

Florida State really was that bad

It was a good thing we had 4 teams in the playoff this year. Otherwise, we may have ended up with a Florida State/Alabama snooze-fest. One was the lone undefeated team. The other had a few recent championships under their belt. How could you go against either? Ugghh. Luckily, there were four teams. Oregon nicely avenged their lone loss to Arizona. Alabama and Ohio State were one-loss conference champions that were both playing well. TCU also looked great. That would make a great playoff. Alas, we still had to have some politics. Florida State was the undefeated defending champs. They had to be in, even though they were not that great. There was also the bickering in the Big-12. Put the two together and Florida State takes TCU's position. Oregon promptly destroyed Florida State and Ohio State held on to beat Alabama. Was the SEC really deserving of all its championships or did it just get the luck of the draw?

How do the conferences look?

Looking at the Conference Rankings, Conference USA was on top. Alas, none of their teams were ranked. Perhaps we will see some ranking love in the final poll? The Pac-12 was the best of the major conferences. The two loses were both by less than 10 points in Arizona bowls. Oregon also won a semifinal bowl game. The SEC was the next major conference. Alas, their position was held up by the bottom of the conference and the "weaker" eastern division. Ranked teams were 2-5, with all teams in major bowls losing. Big-10 ended up at .500, with victories in the big bowls. Sun Belt, Mountain West and American were all right at or below .500, with the lone ranked team (Boise) vindicating itself well. ACC and Big-12 did finish above the MAC. Can you say overrated?

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