The third set of rankings from the College Football Playoff committee arrived Tuesday, and there’s a new No. 1. Georgia took the top spot, and that would seem like an open invitation for Ohio State to head up our latest installment of the Anger Index, but instead we lead things off this week with the same team that held the top spot last week.
1. Washington (again!) (10-0, No. 5)
Last week, Boo Corrigan gushed that Washington was ever so close to claiming the No. 4 spot from Florida State. Then Washington beat No. 16 Utah — a close game by the scoreboard, but one in which the Huskies had nine more first downs and 75 more yards of offense. Florida State, meanwhile, beat Miami — a good win, but not against a ranked foe — and had one of its worst offensive days of the past two years in the process. (Miami actually out-gained the Noles.)
And yet, here we are again: Florida State at No. 4, Washington at No. 5.
It’s not as if the committee insists on standing pat just because everyone at the top won. Georgia leapfrogged Ohio State for the top spot, despite the Buckeyes playing arguably their best game of the year in a dominant performance against Michigan State. But Georgia was given credit for beating a top-20 opponent in Ole Miss, and — rightfully, we’d argue — ascended to the top spot.
Only, here’s a fun fact: According to ESPN’s Strength of Record metric — which calculates an average top-25 team’s odds of having the same record vs. the same schedule — Georgia checks in at No. 7. Washington is at No. 2.
And if this is just about style points, well — Ohio State and Florida State aren’t exactly embarrassing each new adversary. Washington has played four games vs. teams ranked in the top 25% of FPI, and it has won all four by an average of 7 points. Ohio State has played just two, and its wins have come by 3 (at the buzzer) and 8 (against a team that can’t throw a football more than five yards downfield.
Comparing five undefeated teams with but one common opponent is an impossible task that inherently requires splitting some very thin hairs. But it’s hard not to wonder which hairs the committee is slicing if it sees Washington as the clear No. 5 in this group.
The good news for the Huskies, however, is they travel to No. 11 Oregon State this week, while Florida State plays North Alabama. If they both win and the Huskies stand pat once more, we suggest it’s a conspiracy to kill the Pac-12, and Washington should just quit and go to the Big Ten.
2. Ole Miss (8-2, No. 13) and Oklahoma (8-2, No. 14)
The highest-ranked two-loss team this week is Missouri, and given the Tigers’ wins vs. Kansas State, Kentucky and Tennessee — plus competitive games against LSU and Georgia — that’s fair.
Oregon State checks in next, and we have some questions here. The Beavers best wins are over Utah and UCLA, while they also sport an increasingly ugly loss to Washington State. Isn’t it odd that Oregon (the top-ranked one-loss team) and Oregon State (the second-highest-ranked two-loss team) both get credit for beating Utah, but Washington didn’t?
Then comes Penn State. What exactly is it the committee sees in Penn State at this point? The Nittany Lions have one good win: Iowa. But this is like saying Creed beat Nickleback in a “Battle of the Bands” competition. They’re essentially the same band, flawed in essentially the same way, and frankly no one who witnessed that competition wants to speak of it again. Meanwhile, Penn State’s assumed success is propping up both Ohio State and Michigan at the top of the rankings (questionable) and is somehow considered better than Ole Miss or Oklahoma.
A quick resume check …
Wins vs. FPI top-35 opponents (i.e. the top 25% of FBS)
Ole Miss: 3 (LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M)
Oklahoma: 4 (SMU, Iowa State, Texas, UCF)
Penn State: 1 (Iowa)
OK, so maybe you don’t find wins over Auburn or UCF persuasive. How about this?
Did you just fire your offensive coordinator due to a complete lack of explosiveness?
Ole Miss: Nope, the Rebels average 37 points per game.
Oklahoma: No way, Jeff Lebby’s name is being thrown about for head-coach vacancies.
Penn State: Sure did, and probably a few weeks too late, too.
But right now, it’s Oregon State and Penn State with better positions to make a New Year’s Six game, and that’s just tough to justify.
3. Iowa OC Brian Ferentz
We all had a good laugh about the drive for 325 — Iowa’s (8-2, No. 16) quest to average 25 points per game and thus save Ferentz’s job. Barring a surprising 106-10 win over Nebraska in a few weeks, it ain’t gonna happen, and Ferentz has already been told he won’t return next year.
But what’s the problem here? Sure, Iowa hasn’t topped 26 points against a Power 5 opponent this year (or perhaps this century). The Hawkeyes are still 8-2, soaring up the rankings like a Tory Taylor punt. Indeed, they just racked up 402 yards of offense against Rutgers last week. That’s 74 more yards than Ohio State had against Rutgers a week earlier! Put Marvin Harrison Jr. on Iowa’s offense and it’s averaging — well, at least 24.5 points a game, and we round up.
Casting aspersions against poor Ferentz is all part of our society’s own preconceived notions of beauty and success. So what if Iowa wins differently? So what if the Hawkeyes’ offense makes paint drying feel like a rollicking thrill ride. We’re all so obsessed with antiquated metrics like yards and points that we’ve lost track of what’s important: The wins. Ferentz is a winner. It’s not too late to change your mind, Iowa. Bring this man back!
4. Liberty (10-0, unranked), JMU (10-0, unranked), Toledo (9-1, unranked), SMU (8-2, unranked), NC State (7-3, unranked) and UCF (5-5, unranked)
Oklahoma State (7-3, No. 23) remains in the top 25 despite getting blown out 45-3 last week by UCF.
Let us repeat that: 45 for the other team. Three for Oklahoma State.
We should also note that this was not entirely an anomaly. The Pokes also have a 33-7 loss to Alabama on their resume. Oh, sorry, that’s *South* Alabama.
A team that has two losses by a combined 68 points against teams who currently rank 41st and 61st in SP+ remains ranked in the top 25 ahead of four very good Group of 5 teams and NC State, which is now the lone 7-3 Power 5 school outside the top 25.
NC State is the only 7-3 or better P5 team not ranked by the committee this week.
Pack have wins vs Clemson and Miami.
Losses are to No. 10 (by 3 points), No. 19 and a team that was No. 17 at time of the game.
NC State’s AD is the chair of the committee.
— 💫🅰️♈️🆔 (@ADavidHaleJoint) November 15, 2023
There are rules the committee should have to abide, regardless of any other context. Getting blown out by UCF? You’ve lost your top-25 privileges. End of story.
5. Notre Dame (7-3, No. 19) and Utah (7-3, No. 22)
Notre Dame has wins over NC State, Duke and USC, plus its QB has a necklace made out of his own rib.
Utah has wins over Florida, UCLA and USC, plus its starting safety has 450 yards of offense and five touchdowns.
What does Tennessee have to warrant still being ranked ahead of both of them? The Vols’ best win is against Kentucky. They lost to Florida and were blown out by Alabama and Missouri. They have Georgia next and, no, Hendon Hooker ain’t walking through that door.