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Texas A&M Football

Around CFB: Reliance on the eye test is blinding the committee's judgement

December 9, 2020
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The eye test now appears the preeminent method of determining college football’s elite teams.

The problem with that is, when appraising Ohio State, the committee seems to be headed by Louis Braille, Helen Keller and the three blind mice.

Ohio State (5-0) remains No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings despite a flimsy resume.

The Buckeyes’ best win was a 42-35 victory over No. 12 Indiana. Of course, Indiana needed a controversial, advantageous and  … OK … erroneous officials’ call to defeat Penn State (2-5), 36-35.

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State defeated Indiana, 42-35, in November. It’s the Buckeyes’ only win over an opponent above .500.

Indeed, Penn State is one of four Ohio State opponents to have managed only two victories in the lackluster Big Ten. Nebraska is 2-4, Rutgers is 2-5 and Michigan State is 2-4.

Proponents argue that Ohio State blew out those teams. True. However, so did Iowa, which defeated Michigan State by a wider margin (42 points, 49-7) than Ohio State did (40 points, 52-12).

The CFP committee was apparently more impressed with the Buckeyes’ win over Michigan State than A&M’s 31-20 victory over Auburn.

Last week, CFP Chair Gary Barta indicated the committee seriously considered moving Texas A&M into the No. 4 spot but did not because the Aggies’ 20-7 win over LSU wasn’t sufficiently “convincing.”

“I clearly shared that the committee believes that Ohio State last week belonged in the No. 4 spot,” Barta said after Tuesday night’s CFP rankings update. “It was important for the committee to see Ohio State play again, and the more we can see Ohio State play, the better because they've played now five games. But when we get ready to rank, there's not a variance — we don't have a degree of variance between 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and beyond, so for this week, the committee felt confident putting Ohio State at 4.”

By anybody’s measure, A&M’s 41-38 victory over No. 6 Florida (8-1) is better than Ohio State’s win over Indiana. Also, Auburn (5-4) has doubled the win total of each of the Buckeyes’ other opponents.

The committee obviously isn’t influenced by A&M’s more challenging schedule. Again, the argument is that A&M’s wins aren’t sufficiently “convincing.”

Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics
Texas A&M ran for 313 yards on Auburn last weekend en route to a 31-20 win.

“SEC wins are very convincing. I promise you that,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said earlier this week. “Anytime you win in the SEC West, it’s very convincing. (It’s the) Best league in ball. The best players in ball. They’re all very convincing.”

So why isn’t the committee convinced? Oh yeah, the “eye test.” Facts and statistics are unnecessary. Just by watching, they can identify superior teams.

In 2018, the “eye test” said No. 2 Ohio State was far superior to Purdue. That is until Purdue spanked the Buckeyes, 49-20.

The previous year, the “eye test” said the No. 6 Buckeyes were much better than Iowa. That is until Iowa blasted them, 55-24.

This year, the Buckeyes have avoided similar missteps for two reasons: Their opponents are weak, and there are fewer of them.

The Big Ten’s decision to get a late start to the season combined with COVID-19 issues has limited the Buckeyes to five games. Potential injuries and potential upsets haven’t been as big of a concern for Ohio State as they would be for teams in the SEC, ACC and Big 12.

In fact, the only real concern is whether or not the Buckeyes would play the six-games required by the Big Ten to qualify for the conference championship game.

Not to worry. The Big Ten appears ready to change its own policy and allow the Buckeyes to play for the conference championship.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State and Michigan will not play in The Game for the first time since 1918.

“We've seen Ohio State play five games,” Barta said. “Based on that performance, we put them in the fourth spot, and we'll just wait and see. Next week is another ranking opportunity, and then we'll have that final ranking opportunity.”

Of course, the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan this week has been canceled. Then, they would face Northwestern for the conference championship. Northwestern managed narrow victories over two-win Purdue and two-win Nebraska by one touchdown. The Wildcats also lost to Michigan State.

Still, a win over Northwestern would probably look good in the eyes of the committee.

See how they run. See how they run.

Heisman watch (If my ballot was due today)

1. Kyle Trask, Florida, QB: Trask is the first quarterback in Southeastern Conference history to throw at least three touchdown passes in nine consecutive games. He threw for 433 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-19 victory over Tennessee. Trask has passed for 3,243 yards and 38 touchdowns with three interceptions.

2. Mac Jones, Alabama, QB: He passed for 385 yards and four touchdowns in a 52-17 blowout of LSU. Jones has now thrown for 3,113 yards and 27 touchdowns with three interceptions.

3. Justin Fields, Ohio State, QB: Fields accounted for four touchdowns in a 52-12 rout of Michigan State. He passed for 199 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two touchdowns. Overall, Fields has thrown for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns with three interceptions. He’s rushed for 239 yards and five touchdowns.

4. DeVonta Smith, Alabama, WR: Smith has been excellent all season, but he’s been absolutely amazing since Halloween. In the last four games, he has had 35 catches for 749 yards and 11 touchdowns. That includes his performance against LSU, in which he had eight catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Overall, Smith is ranked second in the nation in receiving with 80 catches for 1,305 yards and 15 touchdowns.

5. Breece Hall, Iowa State, RB: Hall rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in a 42-6 victory over West Virginia. He also had three catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Overall, Hall has rushed for 1,357 yards and 17 touchdowns and has caught 18 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Predicted playoff participants

1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have scored at least 38 points in every game and have won every game by at least 15 points.

2. Clemson: Expect the Tigers to defeat Notre Dame in the ACC rematch.

3. Ohio State: There are no other really good teams in the Big Ten. Therefore, expect the conference to change its policy and make moves to ensure the Buckeyes play at least six games.

4. Notre Dame: Face it. Barring a blowout loss to Clemson, the Irish will get in. The brand is too big. The committee will give the Irish credit for their regular-season win over Clemson even though the Tigers were without quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a couple of defensive starters

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Discussion from...

Around CFB: Reliance on the eye test is blinding the committee's judgement

9,397 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 11 mo ago by ScudAg56
SEC Champs
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AG
Nailed it.
4
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AG
Until D1 college football has an actual, no sht playoff, it's nothing more than figure skating with bigger dudes.
sharpdressedman
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"The eye test now appears the preeminent method of determining college football's elite teams."

No, OSU is a very large marketing draw and fights like a heavyweight champion in the college football ring of influence.

There are millions of $$$$ and P5 conference pride at stake, and however dishonest, disingenuous, and transparent the decisions may be, I anticipate that the B1G will put OSU into the CCG, and the CFP committee will include them in the playoff.

No one should be surprised in the least or create pretzel logic to explain a straight line.
greg.w.h
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AG
If Texas A&M wins out. Ohio State fails to have a best four resume compared to us. It's that simple for the same reason the Big 12 was elongated prior to first playing round robin and then playing a rematch as a championship game: too few games played.

The stability in the CFP rankings is a flaw not a feature.
LatinAggie1997
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NOT-QCoryatt
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AG
If we had lost to bama by a last second field goal... I believe the eye test argument has more merit. I don't believe there is much intrigue for any potential rematch. There is likely interest in SEC champ v b10 champ. CFP was never about equity nor fairness- it's about interest & intrigue && eyeballs on TVs

We need to get into a NY bowl, win convincingly to set us up for being "unfairly " ranked higher down the road (if we can get past bama)
5 4
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S
Yet Olin has Justin Fields #3 with his Heisman vote.
garysum
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AG
Olin has it nicely summarized and realistic. As Jimbo says, control what you can control. Dominate where ever we land.
ScudAg56
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One criticism is that A&M won't play in its own conference championship. Of course, if Clemson was in Notre Dame's division, neither would they.
ScudAg56
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