college football playoffs

College football should realize playoff pressure

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 3:08pm
Cliff Pfenning
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Three weeks into the college football season, the race to predict the four teams headed to the national championship semifinals is in full swing.

Ohio State is No. 1, but barely beat a Northern Illinois team that's not a gimme to win its own conference, the Mid-American. Mississippi played its way up to No. with a resounding win at Alabama Saturday. TCU continues to remain the pride of the Big 12 and a prime contender for one of the four spots. And Notre Dame is No. 6 with its legitimate hope of getting in with an unbeaten record. If the Buckeyes, Rebels, Horned Frogs and Irish all win out, then there's no problem picking the playoff semifinalists.

Trouble is when those teams start to lose, even once. Then, the decision to name the four teams turns to persons who aren't involved in the action on the field, which is a problem that the game can actually resolve fairly easily. College football needs a conference ranking system, not a team ranking. The conference schedule then becomes the integral part of the playoff system, as it should be.

Michigan State and Oregon are in key positions to illustrate this argument especially if Oregon should happen to win the Pac-12, but lose another game. The Spartans have a win over then No. 7 Oregon - a thrilling game that featured playoff pressure. But, it wasn't a playoff game because the teams are in different conferences so the outcome only affected people's opinions. And opinions don't win games, teams do.

The big potential challenge could very well happen November 21 when OSU plays host to MSU. If both teams win out until then, they should be No. 1 and 2. Should OSU win, and then win the Big 10 title the following week, they're in the semifinals. Easy.

Michigan State's 31-28 win over Oregon in the second week of the season gives Spartans fans that feeling of confidence that even if they lose to OSU and Oregon wins the Pac-12, they should be one of the four semifinalists ahead of Oregon because of the head-to-head win. That conundrum gets better, though, if Oregon should lose to USC when the teams meet November 21, but then return to beat the Trojans in the Pac-12 final two weeks later ending the season at 11-2 and with its conference title. 

Unbeaten Mississippi beats unbeaten Florida for the SEC title and earns its spot.

Notre Dame loses twice: to USC and Stanford, and is out.

TCU has a loss to Baylor, which also has a loss - to eventual 7-5 Nebraska, and those two schools finish as the only two ranked teams from the Big 12 (which actually only has 10 schools). Baylor is ranked as the conference champion.

Clemson goes unbeaten through the season, but loses in the ACC title game to 10-2 Duke, which has losses to Northwestern and Georgia Tech. Duke is 11-2, while Clemson is 12-1.

How does a two-loss Oregon team get into the semifinals over teams that have one loss? Same for Duke, which also has a conference title.

Easy, the Ducks and Blue Devils would be two of four conference champions, having won the games that mattered most - those that got them to their conference title games, and then that game, too.

With five Power Conferences, the only rankings the playoff committee would need to make is the one that ranks the five conferences - with No. 5 getting left out of the playoff. That was TCU and the Big 12 last year.

MSU has only one loss and a win over Oregon. But, that was a non-conference win. The Spartans' key game is Ohio State, assuming they beat their other four division rivals. That takes on the pressure of a playoff game, with the game's loser being dropped from the playoffs.

The five conference champions might very well be ranked this way: Ohio State, Mississippi, Baylor, Oregon and Duke.

Duke gets left out. Florida, Clemson, Michigan State, TCU - all one-loss teams, scream to be ahead of Oregon, but none have a conference title.

That Michigan State loss is out there for the college football world to salivate over at the right time because of insider opinions, but it shouldn't be, even if the Ducks lose another game. Oregon has five division games, which lead to a conference title game, and that's the playoff system that every other team has, too - the Big 12 has more conference games, so that's its argument to overcome the lack of a conference title game.

The Power 5 conferences will each have a champion, and those are the only five teams that should be considered for the four semifinal spots, regardless of their records. That's how a playoff system works - the better team doesn't always win because which team is better is from an opinion based on stats and records. The actual better team wins on the field, and every team in the Power 5 (plus Notre Dame) has its shot at winning the games that matter.

 

 

No cooking like home cooking

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 8:19am
Cliff Pfenning
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The College Football Playoffs seem to be the University of Oregon's to win, or Oregon's to lose depending on how you look at them.

The Ducks are in the semifinals, ranked only behind Alabama and playing defending champion Florida State in the Rose Bowl, Jan. 1.

So, with a win over Florida State, then a win over either Alabama or Ohio State in the title game 11 days later, the Ducks will be national champion in one of the major televised sports for the first time since 1939.

And, America expects they'll win, too.

In voting conducted on espn.com, Oregon beat Alabama, FSU and OSU to the answer - "Which team will win the College Football Playoff?" With more than 780,000 votes tallied Tuesday morning, the Ducks were at 39 percent, to 35 percent for Alabama. Ohio State was third with 14 percent and Florida State fourth with 12 percent.

Some interesting points from the voting - FSU didn't own Florida, and only Ohio voted decisively for Ohio State. Oregon owned the West and Northeast, and no state voted as emphatically for one school than Oregon did: 78 percent for the Ducks. Alabama, in contrast, voted 63 percent for the Crimson Tide, while Ohio voted 61 percent for OSU. Florida gave the nod to 'Bama with 36 percent to 30 percent for the Seminoles. Oregon had 25 percent in that state amongst more than 30,000 votes.

Alabama still owns bettors, though. The Crimson Tide sit at almost even money to win - 11/10, while the Ducks are second at 17/10 at oddshark.com.

 

Semifinal pairings could not be better

The storylines make the College Football Playoff Committee shine
Dec. 7, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

No matter what Texas Christian fans might be thinking today, and those from Baylor, too, college football fans definitely got their money's worth out of the committee that selected the four teams that will play for the national title - they got drama and excitement.

There could not have been a better finale to the regular season than Saturday's games - none of them upsets, which led to all the hype over what the committee would do with Big 10 champion Ohio State and the two co-champions of the Big 12: TCU and Baylor.

Would TCU drop from its spot at third last week to lower than fourth and miss the playoffs?

Would Baylor move up to fourth because of its win over TCU during the regular season?

Would Ohio State's stunning victory over Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game boost it to fourth, despite being No. 5 last week?

Would the Big 12 teams get the shaft for not having a title game? And, why doesn't the conference have a title game - it doesn't like money?

So many questions, so much hype. It's exactly what the playoffs are supposed to create, and it did - the SEC West even played its way out of any discussion it should have two teams involved thanks to Mississippi State losing not only to Alabama, but then to Mississippi.

Ultimately, Ohio State got the nod as the fourth playoff team, and it was clear-cut in the voting, too, in remarks made following the release of the pairings. And, that's what should have happened - the four conference champions earned their spot in the semifinals, while the Big 12 co-champions were left to ponder what would have happened if they had played a conference title game ... or just went unbeaten.

TCU lost 61-58 to Baylor (defense, eh?), while Baylor lost at West Virginia the week after its win over the Horned Frogs.

What a season, and it's not over. Remember Mississippi State's rise from being unranked to No. 1? That seems like such a long time ago. And, Oregon dropping from No. 3 to 12 in one week after it's humbling loss at home to Arizona. But, that was the week before seemingly the entire nation got upset on a single day - Baylor included.

The semifinals are not just great in terms of teams involved, but storylines, too. Oregon and Florida State are likely to have two Heisman Trophy winners involved, while Alabama and Ohio State have coaches with numerous games between them.

There's nearly a month to pump up the games.

Look out ratings records.

 

 

 

College football committee did its job right

Sun, 12/07/2014 - 11:07am
Cliff Pfenning
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No matter what Texas Christian fans might be thinking today, college football fans definitely got their money's worth out of the committee that selected the four teams that will play for the national title - they got drama and excitement.

There could not have been a better finale to the regular season than Saturday's games - none of them upsets, which led to all the hype over what the committee would do with Big 10 champion Ohio State and the two co-champions of the Big 12, TCU and Baylor.

Would TCU drop from its spot at third last week to lower than fourth and miss the playoffs?

Would Baylor move up to fourth because of its win over TCU during the regular season?

Would Ohio State's stunning victory over Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game boost it to fourth, despite it having the worst loss of all the teams involved?

Would the Big 12 teams get the shaft for not having a title game? And, why doesn't the conference have a title game - it doesn't like money?

So many questions, so much hype. It's exactly what the playoffs are supposed to create, and it did - the SEC West even played its way out of any discussion it should have two teams involved thanks to Mississippi State losing not only to Alabama, but then to Mississippi.

Ultimately, Ohio State got the nod as the fourth playoff team, and it was clear-cut in the voting, too, in remarks made following the release of the pairings. And, that's what should have happened - the four conference champions earned their spot in the semifinals, while the Big 12 co-champions were left to ponder what would have happened if they had played a conference title game ... or just went unbeaten.

TCU lost 61-58 to Baylor (defense, eh?), while Baylor lost at West Virginia the week after its win over the Horned Frogs.

What a season, and it's not over. Remember Mississippi State's rise from being unranked to No. 1? That seems like such a long time ago. And, Oregon dropping from No. 3 to 12 in one week after it's humbling loss at home to Arizona. But, that was the week before seemingly the entire nation got upset on a single day.

The semifinals are not just great in terms of teams involved, but storylines, too. Oregon and Florida State are likely to have two Heisman Trophy winners involved, while Alabama and Ohio State has coaches with numerous games between them.

Look out ratings records.

 

 

 

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