Iowa, Alabama join the Achievement Index Top 4

Ohio State’s dramatic home loss to Michigan State Saturday night opened the door for any top team not named the Buckeyes so far as a possible playoff berth is concerned (and really, OSU isn’t out of it either).  The Buckeyes had established a stranglehold on a Top 4 spot in the actual CFB Playoff rankings and a similarly firm grip on a first tier ranking in the Achievement Index. A putrid offensive performance, fully taken advantage of by Sparty, resulted in a loss that makes these last couple of weeks so much more interesting.

In this space, Sparty’s upset combined with Oklahoma State’s home loss to Baylor actually opened up two slots in the Top 4.  The primary beneficiaries, at least for this week, were Iowa and Alabama.

The Hawkeyes are now the de facto Big 10 representative by virtue of their undefeated record, but they will of course have to win two more games to make that stick.  Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan are all lurking about, ready to pounce if Iowa slips, and certainly that is a plausible scenario with the playoff committee, should they decide that the Big 10 winner is a worthy participant in the playoff.  Here it’s not so clear as that, as each team needs help from the teams they’ve already faced.  Can Nebraska boost its own F/+ rating enough to give Sparty a boost as well?  Will Michigan’s Utah loss continue to look acceptable? These are the sorts of questions that won’t be answered until the regular season is complete.

The situation in the SEC, by comparison, is crystal clear.  Alabama is the best team there, but Florida, with one loss, can force its way into the playoff by defeating the Crimson Tide.  That’s a problem, however, as the Gators currently look barely capable of defeating FAU, let alone ‘Bama.  Still, it’s cut and dried: Alabama has by now done enough to overcome its home loss, and Florida’s resume is nearly as impressive and its own path is obvious.

The Big 12 is as insane as one might expect. Oklahoma State has emerged as the best of the bunch, because the Cowboys have the “best” loss of the group, to Baylor (who is well liked by the efficiency rankings).  Common wisdom tells us the Sooners have the best team and the best resume, and well, common wisdom is often pretty useless. So naturally the playoff committee will take it and run with it.

(This is where I roll my eyes.)

Still, the Sooners are under-ranked here … what they need is Texas to transform itself into a middling team, rather than an atrocious one.  Otherwise, I am perfectly fine with them being penalized for that loss.

But anyway, right now I’ve got it Notre Dame (1) vs. Alabama (4), and Clemson (2) vs. Iowa (3).  The Big 12 is left out, the Pac 12 is left out, and Notre Dame is left laughing all the way to the bank,

It’s a happy ending for everyone!

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Achievement Index likes Clemson this week

The College Football Playoff Committee has a Top 4, in order, of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame.

The Achievement Index’s Top 4 is Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.

That isn’t far off, and we both have rewarded the Tigers for their performance to date.  Where we differ is Alabama vs. Oklahoma State, and well, look at the names on the jerseys to explain that one.

Oh sure, you could argue that Alabama has played a tougher schedule (true) and you could also argue against the Cowboys based on margin of victory/general prettiness (also true).  But I’ve made my own feelings on this clear: The Tide is getting a pass for a home loss to a three-loss team (Ole Miss).  No need to belabor it.  And truth be told, the Tide is surging up my rankings in a major way.  In a couple of weeks, Alabama might actually deserve that Top 4 spot … it’s still hard to project.

Anyway, I can tell you right now who would have the biggest gripe in my system, and it isn’t Alabama…

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Notre Dame haters rejoice: Irish are No. 1 in Achievement Index

The number of undefeated teams in the country has been whittled down to six. And yet the top-ranked team in the Achievement Index is one-loss Notre Dame.

Lovely, eh?

A significant portion of the country is less than pleased whenever the Irish get any kind of advantage over their opponents, and this team getting ranked ahead of several undefeated squads would, on the surface, qualify.

To that I reply: Look at the schedule.

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First Playoff 4 *should* be Michigan State, Notre Dame, Memphis and Clemson (Week 9 Achievement Index)

I’ve run the numbers, and they tell me the playoff committee is batting .250, at least in terms of rewarding the teams that are currently the most deserving.

That’s an important distinction, as some look at this system as trying to pick the best teams, which just COMPLETELY misses the point and COMPLETELY devalues the regular season.  Why play the games if you aren’t going to use them in evaluating teams?

When the committee put Alabama into its initial set of rankings, it created a firestorm of controversy, due primarily to the fact that Alabama had a loss and plenty of other teams didn’t.  The Tide was getting a pass.

Well, yes and no.  It’s true the Tide is getting a pass right now, and it’s indeed okay to call the committee out for this, but it’s not just about the record … it’s about who the Tide has beaten and lost to.

Continue reading First Playoff 4 *should* be Michigan State, Notre Dame, Memphis and Clemson (Week 9 Achievement Index)