The College Football Playoff selection committee finally released its first top 25 rankings for the 2015 season on Tuesday evening, and there were few surprises — especially when you compare the positioning of the teams by the committee to what the BCS formula would have spit out more definitively in seasons past.
The chart below compares each of the committee’s top 25 teams against where the BCS would have placed each squad, along with where each team stands in our Pigskin Rating System here at Sports Unbiased.
Here are a few quick thoughts about the relative positioning of the CFP’s top four teams between the three sets of numbers:
- Defending champion Ohio State is the only team that would make a top-four playoff field no matter which set of numbers one uses to rate the teams. The Buckeyes, which won the inaugural CFP title last season as the fourth seed entering the postseason, is third this time around after an 8-0 start that has been relatively underwhelming despite remaining undefeated. The raw numbers on defense and offense are there, though, and the talent remains to make another championship run.
- Clemson rates as the top team in the first CFP rankings of the year, and would have also been a top-two squad in the BCS era. The Tigers would have been the first team out under the PRS numbers, demonstrating that the last remaining unbeaten team in the ACC is entirely deserving of top-five status. Dabo Swinney’s squad already played an elimination game and won against a Notre Dame team that isn’t yet out of the race, dealt Miami its largest defeat in school history, and survived a shootout at NC State last week, solidifying its spot as a national elite.
- LSU is the only undefeated team left in an SEC that has hardly looked as mighty top-to-bottom as the league has been in past years. This set of Tigers has lived and died by the run so far, with Leonard Fournette chewing up yardage from the offensive backfield and the defense stopping other teams on the ground. If and when teams go to the air, Les Miles’ squad is far more susceptible to upset. But we’ll know soon enough whether they are a real contender or not, because…
- … they have a date with Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday that will serve as a herd-thinning exercise of sorts. The Crimson Tide made it into the last slot in the first ranking of 2015 ahead of five undefeated teams from Power Five conferences, and would have been left out by the human pollsters if the BCS still operated. They have depended heavily on defense and Derrick Henry this year, and they are hardly at the juggernaut level of past seasons. The Tide aren’t as good as Nick Saban’s best recent vintages, but they are certainly legitimate contenders for the bracket.
Other things pop out looking further down the list. Here are a few more observations about the biggest disparities between the series of numbers, along with other notables:
- The Pigskin Rating System loves Oklahoma far more than either the CFP or BCS, which both had the Sooners at 15th. Bob Stoops’ crew, despite the defeat to Texas in the Red River Shootout, was considered the top team in the country by the CFP numbers. Ole Miss is also beloved by our system, sitting 12 spots higher in the CFP than the former and current championship systems rated the Rebels. Houston also gets far more love by the PRS; the last team in the CFP top 25 would be 19th in the BCS calculations and a top-10 team by our house numbers.
- The PRS rankings, meanwhile, can’t stand teams like Michigan State or Memphis, which are ranked at 30th or lower by the PRS instead of the seventh and 13th respectively held by the Spartans and Tigers. Utah is also ranked outside the top 25 despite its still-legitimate chance at taking the Pac-12 South championship. Northwestern also received far more love from the CFP and BCS than they did after we crunched our numbers, with the committee putting them 40 spots higher than we had the Wildcats ranked.
- Four mid-major teams were ranked in the first CFP rankings of the season, with Memphis the clear favorite to at the very least claim the Access Bowl slot as AAC champion. Toledo’s loss to Northern Illinois mere hours after being included in the first list of the year will see the Rockets certainly plummet out next week, while Houston and Memphis still need to play one another. Temple remained above both Toledo and Houston entering the start of this week of games despite their narrow defeat against Notre Dame.