Should PSU, WI or CO jump UM? A look at the data and the debate.

Submitted by BlueKoj on December 1st, 2016 at 8:30 PM

I was motivated to write this diary by a debate I had with a Hokie and a Buckeye. The Buckeye is pretty level headed and talks mild smack before during and after The Game, but actually said this year, “You guys looked good! You didn’t deserve to lose. I’m excited the B1G is back on top of CFB again.” This opinion, and his want to torture our Hokie friend helped him lead the charge for UM’s inclusion in the final 4.

Our Hokie is not level headed, rather he’s more an angry elf when talking CFB. He started the debate like this, “This year will prove above all others what a sham the CFP is…putting the BS UM/OSU game aside, the fact that 2 Big 10 (don’t get me started on how these institutions of higher learning can’t count) teams may make the playoffs and neither one played in their own conf. champ game…is beyond a joke.

The Hokie wants conference champions to represent and thinks there should be 6 births to allow for all P5 champs to participate. He wants objectivity, and is sick of the bias and human foibles that lead to AL vs. LSU rematches. He thinks the NFL system is best, and “it is the order of things.” You can’t win the league if you don’t win your division/conference first.

My point was there’s better criteria to determine the 4 best teams who also deserve to play for a title. It is key to determine the best and most deserving teams. Human guidance is necessary to correct errors in blind faith in formulas (e.g. BCS), and undeserving conference champions (e.g. 2012 WI 8-5/4-4). It is also necessary to keep out the 3 & 4 loss teams “nobody wants to play.”

Who are the best teams?

The humans have spoken. The AP and Coaches mostly agree with the CFP Committee’s top-8 except they push OU into the mix. The Hokie, Buckeye and I summarily dismissed the Big 12 from discussion. Looking at five computer rankings, UM should be 3rd and not 5th, and CO should jump PSU. The computers also suggest the top-5 are pretty tightly bundled and then there’s a gap to WI/PSU/CO. The computers fill that gap with a teams like LSU, USC, UL, AU, and OU. B1G and Pac12 champs will get bumps in the rankings, but I don’t think that will change the computers perspectives on UM’s superiority.

 

 

AL

OSU

Clem

WA

UM

WI

PSU

CO

vs CFP top-10

0-0

3-1

0-0

0-0

3-1

0-2

1-1

0-1

vs CFP 11 - 25

3-0

0-0

3-1

2-1

0-0

1-0

0-1

2-1

FEI Rank

1

2

4

5

3

7

13

6

S&P Rank

1

3

4

6

2

10

11

15

FPI Rank

1

2

4

5

3

12

14

13

Sagarin Rnk

1

2

4

5

3

7

14

11

The Power Rank

1

2

4

5

3

11

13

14

Avg Rank

1.0

2.2

4.0

5.2

2.8

9.4

13.0

11.8

FEI SOS

38

23

51

85

10

8

16

25

TeamRankSOS

3

1

9

17

2

5

14

11

Sag SOS

7

15

47

60

33

20

39

23

Avg SOS

16

13

35.7

54

15

11

23

20

Who is most deserving?

Champions

The Hokie says only P5 conference champs should participate. This is silly. 1-loss OSU is out, and 3-loss VT and FL might be in? Even if you can somehow twist your head around that, 2012 8-5 WI would have been ridiculous. This isn’t the NFL. The conference schedules are imbalanced. Divisions are won inequitably. The B1G East crossovers looked like this: UM played 1, 3 & 7. OSU played 1, 2 & 5. PSU played 3, 4 & 7. Some years it might be worse than that. VT did not play 1) Clem, 2) UL, 3) FSU, 4) NC St and 5) WF! VT also opened the season vs. Liberty. The P5 conferences don’t have consistency in number of teams, division alignment, championship games, scheduling rules (NC and in conf), tie breakers, etc..

I have to admit that the inconsistency argument doesn’t apply as much this year since it’s PSU and WI we’re talking about. I do have a hard time with two non-participants jumping over the conference champ. This is especially true for the one with the same overall record and worse conference record. Obviously, this is compelling for B1G and less so for the Pac-12 champs. I could be compelled.

Versus ranked teams and SOS

UM’s 3-1 record vs. top-10 is impressive. PSU’s 2-1 would be impressive as well. SOS after this weekend will be pretty close. WI has the edge in people’s minds due to “ranked at the time” nonsense, and an already better computer SOS. But close losses don’t mean as much and they’d need to pummel PSU IMHO to come close in this category. I'm hoping for an ugly "no one wants to win this game" BTCG.

Head-to-Head

Of course, the conference champ thing and the close SOS would be easier to argue for if UM hadn’t smashed all three wanna be contenders. They more than passed the eye test for anyone who saw the game or even the box score. The committee looks at film so they know. UM won, was clearly the better team, and not even delirious PSU fans can argue with that (although, they try). The Buckeyes didn’t dominate nearly as much, but they were on the road.  The Hokie and some pundits like to almost dismiss UM’s dominance due to it being done in the Big House, but film don’t lie. 

 

 

UM

PSU

 

 

OH

@PSU

score

49

10

 

score

21

24

1st Down

25

12

 

1st Down

19

13

Rush

326

70

 

Rush

168

122

Pass

189

121

 

Pass

254

154

Yds/Play

6.1

3.5

 

Yds/Play

5

4.6

Pts/Poss

4.9

0.9

 

Pts/Poss

1.5

1.7

             

 

UM

WI

 

 

OH

@WI

Score

14

7

 

score

30

23

1st Down

21

8

 

1st Down

23

22

Rush

130

71

 

Rush

185

236

Pass

219

88

 

Pass

226

214

Yds/Play

4.6

3

 

Yds/Play

5.6

6.1

Pts/Poss

1.1

0.5

 

Pts/Poss

2.7

1.9

             

 

UM

CO

       

Score

45

28

       

1st Down

20

15

       

Rush

168

64

       

Pass

229

261

       

Yds/Play

5.6

4.9

       

Pts/Poss

2.6

1.6

       
             

 

UM

OH

 

 Regulation

UM

OH

score

27

30

 

score

17

17

1st Down

16

23

 

1st Down

15

20

Rush

91

206

 

Rush

74

164

Pass

219

124

 

Pass

205

116

Yds/Play

3.9

4

 

Yds/Play

4

3.7

Pts/Poss

1.8

2

 

Pts/Poss

1.3

1.3

Conclusion

So, UM wins a close "vs. ranked/SOS" category in a split decision. UM destroyed WI/PSU/CO H2H. UM loses huge with the conference champ thing. How big is this? It would have to override the other criteria completely. Perhaps conference championship does tip SOS + H2H in the “who is most deserving” category. Perhaps that gives the slightest edge to WI and PSU as “more deserving by the tiniest bit”. I still cannot get by the fact that UM is clearly the better team, and has performed better on the field the whole year. The gap is significant. UM also has a better shot by far vs. the other CFP participants.

It’s a good and tough debate. Not everyone will be fully satisfied with whatever the results will be, but I don’t think CO, WI or PSU should jump UM. I have a sinking feeling the committee might plant a flag in the conference champ camp, though.

GO BLUE!

Go Hokies

Go Buffs

 

 

 

 

Comments

mgodragon

December 1st, 2016 at 9:43 PM ^

As much as hope UofM gets in to the CFB and am exctied by where the commitee placed us, I kind of think they just did so people would talk ad tune in to ESPN for a week as everyone debates the possibilty of two (2!?) non champions from the same conferences even(!) getting in. Here's hoping they actually look at best teams and not just champions!

TrueBlue2003

December 2nd, 2016 at 12:09 AM ^

put us in the worst spot that they reasonably could have.  We were third going into The Game.  We lost in double OT on the road by literally an inch to the 2nd place team.  That couldn't have changed the committee's opinion that we are extremely close to OSU.  The fact they squeezed Clemson and Washington between the two teams that played on Saturday was the worst case scenario.

There was no way they were dropping us below Wisconsin or PSU given the head to head results.  But now that we're only one spot ahead of them, it's far more reasonable for the winner to bump ahead based on the additional quality win and the conference championship.

We're the third best team in the country.  Fourth at the absolute worst.  But clearly the committee is just counting losses and doing the same stupid stuff the AP does instead of actually considering margins, circumstances, etc. We should not have dropped to 5th.

YoOoBoMoLloRoHo

December 2nd, 2016 at 9:36 PM ^

is often easy to spot.  They have all the flexibility and impunity in the world with our 5th place. They do not want UM in the mix, but UM is a good 3rd option.

Homefield advantage is worth 3.5 pts according to the betting experts? Then UM was better thru 60 minutes despite 3 turnovers.

The committee has a political interest in spreading spots to as many conferences as reasonably justifialbe.

Cranky Dave

December 1st, 2016 at 10:16 PM ^

There is consistency in scheduling, even divisions, etc with a 4 team playoff insisting on conference champions doesn't make sense I would like to have an 8 team playoff in which case having automatic bids for conf champs might make sense. But the champion should achieve some minimum. Ranking to keep the automatic bid.

BlueWaldy

December 1st, 2016 at 11:00 PM ^

I would tell your Hokie friend that the following NFL teams would disagree with him:

1980 Oakland Raiders

1997 Denver Broncos

2000 Baltimore Ravens

2005 Pittsburgh Steelers

2007 New York Giants

2010 Green Bay Packers

All wild card teams that won the Super Bowl without winning their division.

Hail-Storm

December 2nd, 2016 at 12:07 PM ^

The Patriots lost in a thriller of a game and won 19(?) others. The Giants had lost 6 games during the regular season.  Yes they won the Super Bowl, but I don't see how anyone can argue that they were the best team that year. The college football post season is not perfect, but I'm happy that we don't have to debate a 4 or 5 loss P5 team is better than a 1 loss P5 team at the end of the day.

There are also only 32 teams in the NFL and they play 16 regular season games with 12 teams making it to the post season.  The Big 10 alone has over half that in 14 teams and only plays 9 games against the other members. The college system cannot be the NFL, and I'm ok with that. 

You Only Live Twice

December 2nd, 2016 at 12:15 AM ^

We were not going to wait around and see what you came up with after last year.  This year, we're not chancing all this money on you to know WTF you're doing. You thought MSU was the better team to play Alabama? Please.

Waiting to see what Colorado can do (especially since Washington had to schedule non conference cupcakes),

Love always

CFP Committee

 

P.S. Can you please hire yourselves some halfway competent officials,  You're ultimately making the whole sport look bad with this crap.

 

 

AlaWolverine

December 2nd, 2016 at 12:52 AM ^

Thanks for putting this together. I agree that none of those should pass Michigan especially Penn State. Colorado's argument will be that they lost their starting QB during the Michigan game and he missed most of the USC game. CU happened to lose both those games. Will the committee take that in account? I personally don't think so. The fact that the committee struggled with UM and Washington at the 4 spot shows me that there will be no issue sliding UM up if Washington falls

M_Born M_Believer

December 2nd, 2016 at 2:04 AM ^

I think that the CFP is looking at the major conferences and see a heavy weight v underdog in most of the games:

Heavy Weight v Underdog

Alabama         v  Florida

Clemson         v  Virginia Tech

Penn St          v Wisconsin (or vise versa, while we and OSU watch)

My point is that FLA, VaTech, PSU, and Wisconsin got into these one game playoffs via unbalanced schedule and playing in a clearly inferior division within a conference (except for PSU)

So if the CFP is thinking of rating "Winning you conference" as a significant criteria.  They could (in theory) be stuck with Florida, VaTech, and Penn State and none of those teams certainly do not stack up as "top 4 teams".  So that is why they are downplaying the conference champ line.  And honestly, this has been consistent in the past with at least 1 conference.

The SEC East has consistently been inferior to the SEC West and before the Big 12 crumbled, most could tell you the South division was clearly better than the North.

Winning the conference championship would mean something if there weren't the consistent imbalance between divisions,

They have repeatedly stated, they are looking for the 4 best teams,  This is why I believe that Michigan is a good position (relatively speaking).  They had to give Clemson and Washington the opportunity to secure their playoff births as the are only 1 loss teams, but if either slip up, then the committee and slide Michigan back into the playoffs and point to overall metrics to support their position.

Come on Buffs.......I'll even forgive you for the '91 game if you can do this one later tonight.

BlueKoj

December 2nd, 2016 at 8:55 AM ^

I think you mean 1994. It's a funny thing. I heard announcers in the CO-UT game talking about UM fans not being able to forgive the Buffs due to the series history.

While its true that game gutted me, UM really didn't have a great season regardless. It was one loss in a meh season. The rest of the series UM has owned them. That game is historic and shitty, but UM has dominated them and I don't hold much of a grudge. 

Go Buffs is pretty easy. Time heals all wounds and so do 3 or 4 curb stompings.

Tony Soprano

December 2nd, 2016 at 5:19 AM ^

MUST, MUST, MUST remove "most deserving" as part of the criteria. What does "most deserving" even mean?  It could mean something different for each person.

 MUST, MUST, MUST remove "conference champion" as a criteria.  The conference champion isn't always the best team in its conference, and in this case neither team playing in the chamionship is one of the two best in the conference. 

The committee's task and what they have verbally indicated is their task is to choose the 4 BEST TEAMS - that is the only criteria.  If they do that, Michigan cannot be excluded.  Go Blue!!

BlueKoj

December 2nd, 2016 at 8:48 AM ^

This may be a problem with semantics. The "deserving" part requires that you play the best all year and have a resume to go with your talent. There are people who would say USC is one of the 4 best teams if everyone played tomorrow. So, by "deserving" I simply mean do you have the talent, and did you execute through the season. So, are you one of the 4 best now, and have you played the best throughout the season overall. 

Soulfire21

December 2nd, 2016 at 8:58 AM ^

To be fair, the conference champion is meant to be a tie-breaker between similar-looking teams.

When circumstances at the margins indicate that teams are comparable, then the following criteria must be considered:
* Championships won
* Strength of Schedule
* Head-to-head result (*snickers*)
* Comparative outcomes of common opponents

So when evaluating Michigan compared to Penn State (should they win Saturday), they have won the Big Ten East + Big Ten Championship, Michigan edges them out in SoS but not by a ton, Michigan won by 40 in the head-to-head, and Michigan went 5-2 against the same opponents that Penn State went 6-1 against. Of particular concern is our loss to Iowa whereas they blew Iowa out.

TrueBlue2003

December 2nd, 2016 at 6:55 PM ^

PSU SoS will probably even up with ours.  I think you're counting the head to head in the common opponents? PSU will be 6-0 against common opponents not counting us.  This is all why I think PSU is troublesome as a comparison.  The only thing we have in those four criteria.  Yes, it's a 39-point win, but will that be enough to ignore everything else?

Wisconsin is even worse, because their SoS is better than ours and their loss to us was closer.

Doesn't look good for us.  The only hope is head-to-head is heavily weighted (which would be reasonable since that's actually allowing the results on the field to determine the "best"). 

BlueKoj

December 2nd, 2016 at 9:26 AM ^

I don't think many people think UM and PSU are tied. There is an element of who are the 4 best, and I think the committee sees the gap as significant.

Zarniwoop

December 2nd, 2016 at 9:57 AM ^

We are in the unusual position where we have beaten every team that would be a threat to jump us.

At that point, I just gotta say, "Duh".

But, we're dealing with college football, so of course it will be some otherworldly decision based on logic that would make a Jerry Springer guest insane.

kyeblue

December 2nd, 2016 at 10:06 AM ^

and two of the three were not even close. The Wisconsin game we did not put them away but we sit comfortably the entire game

if you are 3:0 against all other three that are in consideration, it is a no brainer.

as far as I concern, JT was short and we did not lose the Game.

I certainly hope that  the committee watched the game and came away with more or less the same impression. 

 

Greg McMurtry

December 2nd, 2016 at 10:22 AM ^

Since they didn't play in the reg season, the PSU vs. Wiscy game will only tell you which team is better. But Michigan beat them both, so it's a "who cares" BIG champion. If Clemson and Wash win, it would be hard to rank Michigan ahead of them. I actually wouldn't be pissed staying at #5 in that scenario.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

charblue.

December 2nd, 2016 at 11:17 AM ^

as a playoff selection based on TV ratings and ticket sales, which are clearly unstated reasons for keeping Michigan in the fifth spot, and a nice insurance policy if Washington and Clemson both fall this weekend. Even with their losses, the margin and play by both Colorado and Wisconsin or Penn State could move them ahead of Michigan.

At this point, I am totally expecting Michigan to go to the Orange Bowl for a matchup against Florida State. I am sure the Rose Bowl would love to take Michigan in a game with USC, but that won't happen either.

TrueBlue2003

December 2nd, 2016 at 9:03 PM ^

reasons we're still there?  Not that we're clearly a better team than Wisconsin and PSU and Colorado right now? What are you talking about?

Cumong man.  Ticket sales are the reason the committee put us in a spot on a ranking that has zero impact on any ticket sales. This is merely an interim ranking before the one that actually does matter.

And if they cared about putting us in a spot that truly reflected the "best" teams, we'd still be third.

Ecky Pting

December 2nd, 2016 at 1:23 PM ^

My sense is that the CFPC will give a significant amount of weight to a team that not only wins a conference championship, but also exposes itself to the risk of playing a competitive 13th game. Looking at it another way, being lumped in the pool of two-loss teams, the teams that are pulled out will be the ones able to capture an additional win - and a quality one at that. M is locked out of that opportunity and with 2 losses is unlikely to see its standing improve.

So, I'm not going to be surprised if M gets jumped by UW/PSU or even Colorado. I think if Washington loses, the CFPC would deliberate more over which team to put ahead of M than whether they should or should not put a team ahead of M. It gets a little dicier if Clemson loses too, but I still think M is out in that case as well, just because no way will the B1G get either 3 teams in the CFP or 2 two teams that don't include the conference champ.

ColeIsCorky

December 2nd, 2016 at 2:04 PM ^

A four-team playoff that only allows conference champs in is a joke. If you want to pull for conference championships, then you have to expand the playoffs. Otherwise you completely discard wins and losses in the non-conference, for which those games won't mean crap.

The Big 12 doesn't have a conferene championship (currently). What if they were undefeated going in? Is it fair that an undefeated conference champ without playing that 13th game would be allowed in? What if they did play a conf. championship game and lost? I'm guessing they wouldn't be allowed in since they didn't win the championship game, correct? I understand the Big 12 is going to start having a championship game next season, but I'm just rolling with the current circumstances.

To go along with the above, what if Alabama somehow gets beat by Florida? All of a sudden Florida has a chance to be in and not Alabama even though they went undefeated in the regular season? Same as Virginia Tech beating Clemson?

If conference championships mattered and were required, we could potentially have a straight up AWFUL playoffs which would be a TV viewership nightmare. Imagine this...

Colorado beats Washington

Penn St./Wisconsin are a wash.

Virginia Tech beats Clemson

Florida beats Alabama

Oklahoma beats OSU in the final game - No conference championship.

In this scenario, with conference championships being requirement, who deserves to go?

This is why you must take the four best teams in a four-team playoff since there would be no option for at-large bids under the "conference championship" requirement. Noone would watch a playoff with some combination of four of those teams. And the Big 12 winner technically would have an advantage over other conferences since they didn't have to play that "winner takes all" conference championship game.

You are going to ruin the non-conference season if you require conference championships as long as a four-team playoff is in place. Right now, teams like Washington are hurt by playing a crap non-conference schedule, and that's the way it should be. Once it expands to 8 (or 6), put a requirement on championships but still allow for at large bids. This is the only way to do it without hurting the league itself.

That's all I got, folks. Good work here. Loved seeing the statistic comparisons.

columnatedruins

December 3rd, 2016 at 10:17 PM ^

10 PM Eastern with Wiscy & Clemson leading in their games... I think the 4 teams are determined (barring a big surprise)...

I have struggled with remaining objective over the past week.  I love our Wolverines & I believe we COULD beat just about any team, including Bama, tsio, Clemson, UDub, Oklahoma, etc.  But twice this season, we didn't. 

It is disappointing... and part of our coping mechanism is to hang onto that thread of hope that IF this and THEN that, maybe UofM will get that 4th playoff spot.  Going into Friday evening, tsio & the Tide were both locks.  Either a Clemson or UDub loss would have given us a chance... but the Buffs didn't do us any favors and the Hokies don't appear to be surprising anyone tonight (lots of game left though)...

but (from that objective side) how can they send the 2nd & 3rd ranked teams from the B1G East and leave their conference champ at home without rendering the "qualifying" conference championship games pointless?  I've read a few posts & blogs from people who aren't B1G homers who say B1G is the best conference in the country this year, top to bottom... so how does that conference's "champion" warrant a Rose Bowl consolation?  It MIGHT yet turn out that UofM & tsio both make the cut (with a Hokie win) and if you want to create the scenario that makes the playoff system look just as bad as the BCS system, send Bama, the Pac12 champ, and two teams that didn't even go to the conference championship game from the B1G.

It begs the question about expanding the playoffs to 6 or 8 teams.  A 2x2 play-in (Clemson, UofM, Huskies, & PSU/Wiscy) with winners facing Bama/tsio in semis ahead of a NC game would suit this season - almost perfectly.  But isn't every playoff system rife with the potential controversy of who is/isn't in?   One year there are 6 teams who are consensus invites but the next year it might be 4 or 5... another year its tough to separate 6th from 10th.  Or you send a "champ" (like last year) who is so conspicuously overmatched that their inclusion is an embarassment to every other team in their conference. And, to be honest, I think either Wiscy or PSU as a 4th seed vs Bama risks being little more than a repeat of the Spartan debacle in last year's Cotton Bowl. 

I don't think the committee can win either way.  I think this is one of those years where there are a few teams who will have a case (conference rank, h2h, sos, etc) for inclusion but if Clemson hangs on, it will be the easiest thing for the committee. 

Having said ALL that, I don't think there is a team in the playoffs that is a "better" team than UofM.