College Football Playoff Selection Committee Misses The Mark With Latest Ranking

It’s still not clear whether or not the College Football Playoff selection committee’s decision to leave Michigan ahead of both Penn State and Wisconsin — the two teams competing in this weekend’s Big Ten Championship — is indicative of what’s to come.

Specifically, will the committee railroad whichever team that wins the Big Ten in favor of the Wolverines? Any logical thinker would believe such a scenario to be preposterous. How could the champion of arguably the best conference in college football be left out of the playoff? We generated some predictions after last Saturday’s East division-clinching victory — none of which included the Wolverines.

But those predictions relied on calculations, not emotion. The point of the College Football Playoff was to eliminate the need for computers to determine who plays for the national championship, but now it feels as though the tables have turned a bit. Human emotion — the antichrist to the BCS system — could wind up shooting itself in the foot if a team like Michigan were to somehow make the playoff.

Speight Penn State Football vs Michigan 2016

The point of the committee is to consider factors no computer ever could. Sure, the Lions were blown out in the Big House in late September, but the team’s dynamic — and health — have both drastically changed. These Lions have linebackers, extremely capable ones at that. The Wolverines faced mostly backups in what wound up being a lopsided affair. Instead of falling back on what could be considered an anomaly given how well Penn State has played since that game, the committee should take a “what have you done for me lately” approach.

So, what have the Lions done lately? Win.

Penn State’s won eight straight games, victories that include a close win over a talented Minnesota team, the upset of the year over No. 2 Ohio State, a commanding victory over a hot Iowa team, and blew out Michigan State — a feat Michigan was unable to do. What has Michigan done lately? It’s gone 1-2 in its final three games — which included a last-second loss on the road against the Iowa team Penn State steamrolled a week earlier. Shouldn’t these important factors be taken into consideration? According to this week’s Playoff ranking, it seems they haven’t.

Sure, Michigan’s loss came to one of the nation’s elite programs in a hostile road environment, but despite the loss, Michigan remains a spot outside the playoff picture. I suppose time will tell, especially if the Lions take down the No. 6 Badgers this weekend — a team that’s beaten the likes of LSU but fell to Michigan and Ohio State.

Paul Finebaum had some interesting comments on the selection committee’s latest rankings this morning on ESPN, and it all starts with the Wolverines and the importance of conference championships on a team’s resume. “If Washington wins close, I still think they would get in,” Finebaum said. “This committee, yes they start with a clean slate, it would probably get them in because it’s a quality win. Colorado now is a good win, we all know that. Michigan’s sitting at home replaying the controversial calls from Columbus. It would be close, but [Washington] would have something on their resume that Michigan doesn’t.”

Finebaum’s comments also reiterate the importance of a Washington loss for Penn State’s Playoff hopes. Although Michigan hasn’t lost by a wide margin, it’s still lost both games and won’t have the chance to compete for a conference championship. Penn State will, and if the Lions emerge Indianapolis victorious and Washington loses on Friday, the committee should put Penn State into its field of four.

That’s not opinion — that’s fact.

This week’s rankings hopefully don’t imply a potential injustice to come, but it’s troubling — especially since those of us who aren’t on the selection committee (read: everybody) can only sit, watch, and attempt to predict how 12 individuals might select the Playoff field.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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