Diving into the College Football Playoff Poll

The College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday evening. The Bears were ranked 13th in the nation, in the lower half of the 1-loss teams. Why were the Bears ranked so low, and what do they need to do to rise up the rankings?

Tuesday night was a bad night for Baylor football and Baylor nation. The Bears, with just 1-loss on the season, were ranked 13th in the first ever College Football Playoff rankings. Ahead of them were teams they had beaten (TCU), teams with worse losses on their resume (Arizona) and teams without a marquee win like the Bears have (Michigan State). Everyone sound the alarms; the Bears were screwed. Right? Well, let’s take a look at the data to see if this is actually true. Were the Bears undone by the committee, or did their unraveling start much sooner?

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

College Football Playoff Committee Chair appeared on ESPN last night to “defend” or explain his rankings, depending on which side of the street you happened to be on when it comes to this poll. When it came to the Bears, the lack of a strong game outside of TCU was given as the main reason the Bears were so low.

“Baylor has not had a strong schedule outside its win over TCU. Head to Head is important, but there are other factors, not just head-to-head along,” stated Long. Simply put, the Bears fell because they had just beaten one good (or even great) team instead of a few good teams.

So, let’s take a look at the strength of schedule of the teams ahead of the Bears. Now, we will only go up to 7th ranked TCU, since I doubt any logical Baylor fan thinks the Bears deserve to be higher than that. (For all Metrics, I used Massey Composite Ratings, for average win, only FBS games included)

7. TCU (6-1) (Massey Ranking - 8)

Average Win – 59.40

Top 50 Wins – Oklahoma (14), Minnesota (38), Oklahoma State (40)

Loss – Baylor (14)

Average Remaining Game – 54.6

Top-50 Games Remaining – @West Virginia (21), Kansas State (11)

8. Michigan State (7-1) (10)

Average Win -78.83

Top 50 Wins – Nebraska (13)

Loss – Auburn (4)

Average Remaining Game – 42.5

Top-50 Games Remaining – Ohio State (16), @Maryland (44), Big 10 Championship?

9. Kansas State (6-1) (11)

Average Win -63.4

Top 50 Wins – Oklahoma (14)

Loss – Auburn (4)

Average Remaining Game – 37.2

Top-50 Games Remaining – Oklahoma State (40), @ TCU (8), @ West Virginia (21), @ Baylor (15)

10. Notre Dame (6-1) (12)

Average Win -62.67

Top 50 Wins – Stanford (29),

Loss – Florida State (5)

Average Remaining Game – 42.0

Top-50 Games Remaining – @ Arizona State (18), Louisville (26), @ USC (24)

11. Georgia (6-1) (6)

Average Win – 59.17

Top 50 Wins – Clemson (17),

Loss – South Carolina (37)

Average Remaining Game - 29.75 (1 FCS team as well)

Top-50 Games Remaining - Florida (39), @ Kentucky (43), Auburn (4), Georgia Tech (33), SEC Championship?

12. Arizona (6-1) (19)

Average Win -68.83

Top 50 Wins – Oregon (7), Nevada (50)

Loss – USC (24)

Average Remaining Game – 39.6

Top-50 Games Remaining – @UCLA (22), Washington (41), @ Utah (23), Arizona State (18)

13. Baylor (6-1) (15)

Average Win -77.40

Top 50 Wins – TCU (8)

Loss – West Virginia (21)

Average Remaining Game - 49.00

Top-50 Games Remaining – @ Oklahoma (14), Oklahoma State (40), Kansas State (11)

Overall, out of these 7 teams, the Bears have the second lowest average win according to the Massey Composite Rankings, have the 2nd best win overall, and the 3rd worst loss (only better than Arizona and Georgia). Their remaining schedule is the 2nd easiest, only ahead of TCU and that is without taking into consideration possible conference championship games for Michigan State, Georgia and Arizona which could improve their remaining schedule considerably.

With three Big-12 teams in this, at least one of them will be falling off this list, and there is a chance two of them does. Kansas State still has to play both Baylor and TCU. With a loss, any of these teams will likely fall behind any other 1-loss team however, so there are pitfalls for all of these teams (and everyone else above them in the CFP Poll, with the possible exception of Florida State after this weekend).

What does all of this tell us? I have no idea. The Bears have a great win, albeit one that is apparently not worth as much due to the comeback nature of it for some reason, but the Bears do not have a single other Top-50 win on their resume. They have three more chances to add to that total however, and will need a lot of luck and complete and utter chaos to break into the Top-4. Never count out chaos to win in the end though.


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