LET THERE BE CHAOS
We are halfway through the college football season and chaos reigns.
The controversy that plagued the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) may well yet do the same to the inaugural College Football Playoff (CFP). Why? With six undefeated teams left (Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Baylor, Florida State, Notre Dame, Marshall), chances are that four (at the most) will remain that way at season’s end. Not very likely. Some, however, face a tougher road than others.
Florida State hosts Notre Dame this weekend while MSU and Ole Miss won’t tussle until season’s end. FSU’s road to the CFP is the easiest of the undefeateds. Three of Baylor’s final six games are against teams ranked in the Top 25 currently. Same holds true for Notre Dame. MSU and Ole Miss trying to get through a season in the SEC is uncharted waters for both teams in this day and age – not an easy task. For their part, Marshall has three at home and three away in Conference USA. Their opponents are a combined 14-21 on the season. As a team not in a “Power 5” conference, Marshall’s road to the CFP might face more of a challenge from the committee than on the field.
What all of that means is that there is likely to be a one-loss team in the CFP this year. But, which one?
Ay, there’s the rub.
Heading into the season, five of the top six teams with the toughest schedules (D-1 only) were in the Pac-12 Conference according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).
UCLA has toughest schedule in D-I this year, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. 5 of top 6 are Pac-12 teams pic.twitter.com/hLmKcVQFbi
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 12, 2014
For contrast, Sagarin ratings has SMU (0-5), Florida (3-2 ) and Auburn (5-1 ) as the Top 3 in terms of strength of schedule (SOS) based on games played so far.
Today, LSU and Kentucky lead the way in SOS for remaining games, according to ESPN: LSU, Kentucky, Colorado, Oklahoma State, California.
All of the Top 5 teams with the toughest schedules have a loss. In ESPN’s entire Top 20, only Ole Miss and Notre Dame are undefeated.
If BCS history is any indication, there will be at least one one-loss team in the playoff. That scenario is most likely being discussed even now by the CFP committee. Team records are one criteria they will use, as well as strength of schedule (described above), head-to-head match-ups and more. But, they’ll have to sort through conferences like this:
Crazy: UCLA routs ASU, ASU beats USC, USC handling UA, UA won at Oregon, Oregon humbled UCLA. Wacky #Pac12 this is.
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) October 12, 2014
How do the teams in the tweet rank in polls and their remaining strength of schedule?
- UCLA = unranked (SOS = 22)
- ASU = 17/18 (SOS = 13)
- USC = 22/25 (SOS = 33)
- UA = 16/17 (SOS = 28)
- Oregon = 9 (SOS = 34)
That list doesn’t even include Utah who is currently 5-1, ranked 20/23 in the AP/USA Today polls and has the 8th toughest remaining SOS — or Stanford (23/20) with the 7th toughest remaining SOS. That’s just one conference. Trying to sort through the other conferences too before the committee release their first rankings on October 28?