Buckeyes, General

WFNY’s CFP Computer Ranks: predicting the Top 4

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The CFP Selection Committee is doing their job. They are generating a ton of buzz and national conversation for college football as the barstool debates here at WFNY and elsehwere have been lively about which teams might be picked. Following statements and rankings, however, some of the most important factors in deciding the order become a bit more clear.

High-profile wins count a ton, high-profile losses do not hurt as much as losing to a bad team. Therefore, it is time for another Rise of the Machines at WFNY as we bring back the dormant CFP Computer Rankings.

What is the point of these rankings?

The idea here is to focus on the same components that the CFP Selection Committee focuses on to see if natural tiers exist that helps us differentiate between teams that are obviously ahead of others. Teams close in score will not necessarily go in exact order as listed in this table because the selections are said to use statistics, head-to-head, conference championships, and other nuances to determine final order. Those, however, are not exactly known. If a team is well ahead here, then there’s a good chance that they will stay ahead when the teams are announced.

WFNY Computer Rankings


Who is safe no matter what happens?

Thanks to dominating schedules with plenty of tough opponents on them, both Ohio State and Alabama are safe. Note that the Tide do not bring forth as dominant a resume as the Buckeyes. It is not that I don’t believe Alabama is better, it is just a construct of the SEC having such a down season and the Buckeyes defeating the Sooners. Even so, once the Tide defeat the Gators even their resume shall be better.

Who is in control of their own destiny this weekend?

Both Washington and Clemson are in if they win. Does that Top 4 sound familiar? Well, it should because it is the same Top 4 as the current CFP Poll heading into Championship weekend.

Can Clemson or Washington still get in with a loss?

Clemson is the cleaner case though there is an argument that the CFP will penalize them with a loss due to Virginia Tech’s lower overall ranking compared to the other championship games. Any of “the other three” from the B1G could jump them in the committee’s eyes as the scores are quite close, but they would have to grant two teams from the same conference despite them having a similar profile for that to happen.

If Washington loses, then it is likely that one of “the other three” from the B1G will be taken. Even official statements noted that Michigan and Washington had a razor close profile. A loss to Colorado whom Michigan defeated should clinch a drop. The only question would be if another B1G can jump Michigan.

Who doesn’t have a shot?

There is really no conceivable way for Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State to get in. Clemson is a better team even with a loss as are “the other three.”

So, if a second B1G team gets in, then who will it be?

By profile, Michigan currently holds the best one due to defeating Colorado, Wisconsin, and Penn State. But, Penn State has a sneaky strong profile as they have the highest ranked win of ANY team (Ohio State) and the Temple team they beat proved to be better than people thought (9-3). The question with them is if they will be punished for losing in such a lopsided way to Michigan. Wisconsin sits ahead of Penn State though their penchant for playing most every team close without having any great wins (best are Iowa, Nebraska, and a LSU that struggled early).

In these computer rankings, Penn State would jump into the Top 4 with a win. But, given the current standings and the selection committee coming out saying how far Penn State was behind Ohio State just last week, it feels as if Wisconsin is the team the committee would jump Michigan with a win. Either way, the Wolverines would be holding their breath as the rankings are announced. They do, however, have a legitimate shot and I do believe they are most deserving. Yuck.

Note: The committee has not treated a loss in a conference championship game against teams. If Penn State loses to Wisconsin, they will still be treated as a two-loss team for the purposes of the winning team below, while also not penalizing them for the loss.

Wins were separated into four categories:

  • Victories over teams from any FCS1 or Group of Five conference2 team with records .500 or worse (+0)
  • Victories over teams from Group of Five conferences with records better than .500 (+1)
  • Victories over teams from Power Five conferences with records .500 or worse (+1)
  • Victories over teams from Power Five conferences with records better than .500 (+2)

Bonuses were then given for the following four categories:

  • Victories over one-loss teams from Group of Five conferences (+3)
  • Victories over two-loss teams from Group of Five conferences (+2)
  • Victories over three-loss teams from Group of Five conferences (+1)
  • Victories over one-loss teams from Power Five conferences (+5)
  • Victories over two-loss teams from Power Five conferences (+3)
  • Victories over three-loss teams from Power Five conferences (+2)

Points were then taken away for the following three categories:

  • Losses to three-loss or better teams from Group of Five conferences or above .500 team from Power Five conferences (-3)
  • Losses to above .500 Group of Five conferences team or below .500 Power Five conferences team (-5)
  • Losses to below .500 Group of Five conferences team or FCS team (-7)

What these rankings do not take into account:

  • Home, Away, Neutral field
  • Point Differential
  • Head-to-head results (unless points were tied)
  • Remaining schedule or prediction of future results
  1. Football Championship Subdivision []
  2. Notre Dame and BYU were considered Power Five conference teams []