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An Inconsistent CFP Committee is Good for Alabama, But Bad for Ohio State and Michigan State

SEC Gains and the B1G Loses

Michigan v Michigan State
Bama Bumps Sparty?
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Today in College Football Bullshit with Your Friend Townie...

I came across Joel Klatt ranting about college football on The Herd with Collin Cowherd.

And while I’m not a fan of either one, Klatt brought up the College Football Playoff Committee being inconsistent in its rankings (color me shocked, right?).

But his argument involved Penn State football…so I listened. And dammit, he made sense.

First I’ll summarize his argument. Then we’ll dig into the stats to see if he’s full of shit or not. Then I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to either agree or disagree with ol’ Joel.

The Summary

On3 did a great summary, so I’m just stealing their write up:

During his weekly appearance on The Herd with Collin Cowherd, Fox’s Joel Klatt said the committee was inconsistent with their rankings. His main concern was with Mississippi State being ranked at No. 17 despite not having an impressive resume.

The team he used as a comparison was Penn State. Both hold 5-3 overall records with a couple of bad losses respectively. The Nittany Lions even have two wins against CFP ranked opponents.

Despite the similarities between the two, Klatt argues the committee is saying they are nothing alike.

“One is ranked seventeenth and the other is unranked,” said Klatt. “The committee is telling me there is a significant difference between the two. Penn State currently has two wins against teams that are currently ranked in the CFP Top 25. They beat Wisconsin Week 1, they beat Auburn at home. They’ve got three losses. One of those losses was a bad loss in which they controlled the game against Iowa then they got their quarterback hurt — which the committee is supposed to look at. Then also got beat the next week by a bad Illinois team, there’s no doubt, but Mississippi State got beat by Memphis.”

Even though the Bulldogs have won three of four (loss to Alabama), Klatt believes a loss early in the season such as Memphis is too much to justify a near top 15 rankings.

Klatt’s point wasn’t that PSU should be ranked in the CFP. Instead, he said the committee inflated Mississippi State to make Alabama look better. Because if you blow out a good team 49-9, like Bama rolled Miss St., then you can argue for putting them at #2.

The irony is that, by leaving PSU out of the CFP ranking, Ohio State does not have a win over a CFP ranked team yet.

Klatt was fine with Mississippi State being in the rankings, but he thought the Committee wasn’t being consistent.

The Data

So, let’s take a hard look at the two teams on our own. Here’s a simple breakdown of PSU and Mississippi State’s 2021 performance so far:

From this, I don’t see a ton of difference between the two. That supports Klatt’s argument that there is an inconsistency in the Committee’s ranking system. And it does seem a touch odd that Mississippi doesn’t make the AP poll, but Penn State does.

But if a little data is good, a lot is better. So let’s follow that up with more from our own Hoegher’s Rankings:

According to Hoegher’s metrics, it isn’t close. Penn State’s offense is better, its defense is better, and it has a tougher strength of schedule (by a ton). In summary here, I refer to the resume rating. Which, according to Hoegher, is “…based only on win/loss, just converted to a points scale.”

In that regard, Mississippi is ranked 50th, while PSU is ranked 18th. To put a finer point on that, let’s look at the wins and losses of both teams.

In Conclusion

Mississippi St. beat NC State and Kentucky, which are ranked 18 and 19 in the CFP, respectively. They lost to Memphis (4-4) 29-31, LSU (4-4) 25-28and Alabama (7-1) 49-9. Alabama is ranked 2nd in the CFP.

Penn State beat Wisconsin and Auburn, currently 13 and 21 in the CFP poll. They lost to Illinios (3-6) 18-20, then #3 Iowa (6-2) 20-23, and then #5 OSU (7-1) 24-33. Both OSU and Iowa are currently ranked in the CFP, 5 & 22, respectively.

And in the end, Mississippi State is ranked 17th in the CFP Poll and Penn State got left out.

While it doesn’t really matter for PSU, I do think Klatt had it right. To quote the unerring Iowa fan base…I think I smell a rat.

Your Friend,