Week 14 Network Ranking

by Patrick Rhamey

The 2017 season has created a lot of potential issues and highlights a lot of potential problems with the current system, almost like Auburn in 2004 being undefeated but not the champion.  Normally, an undefeated Group of 5 team isn't that big a deal because 1) they're not the only undefeated and/or 2) the quality of their wins is sufficiently low that the remaining 1 loss teams leapfrog them.  That didn't happen this year for two reason: UCF's wins are actually pretty solid (as are Memphis, who doesn't get punished much for losing to the undefeated), and there is relative chaos in the rest of the ranking, at least more so than any year since I started doing this.

A combination of solid wins combined with relative chaos is the exact scenario, and really the only scenario, where we might expect a Group of 5 team to sneak into the top 4 for the playoff committee.  That's obviously not going to happen, suggesting that it pretty much won't ever happen under the current system.

Furthermore, what will later be released by the committee will no doubt commit the error of very short memories.  Clemson doesn't deserve to go.  They lost to Syracuse.  SYRACUSE.  The idea that the American champ shouldn't go, but some team that lost to Syracuse should, is absolutely mind-boggling.  But, humans have very short memories and dramatically overweight the last bit of evidence they remember.  Clemson walloped Miami, so I wouldn't be surprised if this team that lost to SYRACUSE was the number one seed going into the playoff.

Also worth noting is that this ranking is about the total body of work, not predicting what will happen.  I do the latter with some success from time to time, but not using these rankings (at least not the rankings by themselves).  Doing the latter is also dangerous and hopefully not part of the CFPC's calculus (it probably is).  That crummy team that lost to Syracuse could very well win the whole thing - still doesn't mean they deserve to be there.  So the ranking respects that UCF has the best total body of work.  If we're just looking at best wins, and we ignore that teams lose games too, that ranking has (1) Georgia (2) Clemson (3) Notre Dame (4) Wisconsin.  The fact that Notre Dame is number three illustrates exactly why we can't excuse Clemson's losses either.  By the way, all this same argument applies to Oklahoma.  Oh well, the CFPC system is what it is.  

In the debate that is likely now occurring with the playoff committee between Ohio State and Alabama for the number 3 spot, it should be Alabama.  I have a sneaking suspicion it won't be.

A graph of the network is  at the bottom.  In particular, interesting how Notre Dame sits in the middle and ties everything together.

Top 25 (Explanation; Full Ranking):

  1. UCF
  2. Memphis
  3. Georgia
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Alabama
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Ohio State
  8. Penn State
  9. Clemson
  10. Miami (FL)
  11. USC
  12. San Diego State
  13. Stanford
  14. Washington
  15. TCU
  16. Oklahoma State
  17. Michigan
  18. Auburn
  19. Virginia Tech
  20. Washington State
  21. Notre Dame
  22. Northwestern
  23. Michigan State
  24. Iowa
  25. Louisville