WELL, YOU’VE REALLY DONE IT NOW, BIG TEN!
Thanks to some questionable officiating and, sure, fine, many incredible plays, Ohio State beat Michigan in The Game, arguably the biggest game of the season so far. And what does the Big Ten have to show for it? Thanks to Penn State, nothin’!
Its two best teams are out of the conference championship, and the Playoff committee is going to have to make the hardest call in its short history in just a few weeks. Do you leave out one of the clear best teams in the country in Ohio State? Or do you respect the drama of conference play and recognize that to be considered one of the top four teams in the country, you must surely at least win your division?
Enjoy the bar-guments for the next month folks, both before and after the Playoff teams are announced. Unless a long list of upsets happen, there’s probably no way somebody isn’t left out feeling robbed. This may be an unpopular opinion, but here’s one Power Rankings’ bloggers take: conference titles matter!
Look, I get it. I get it! A lot of people think the playoff should be the four best teams, and the four best teams nationally, period. I just can’t get on board that you should be considered one of the best teams in your country if you can’t even win your division, let alone your conference title. I understand that’s wanting it all, that we want big teams to play tough out of conference schedules (and OSU certainly met that criteria this year, while Washington most definitely did not) but then we also want to say “but don’t forget, you also better win your conference.”
But I also think that, for those of you wishing for the Playoff to expand to 6 or 8 or 64 teams, you’re missing the playoffs right in front of you. Conference games are de facto playoff games! By agreeing that you have to at least make your conference championship to be considered for the playoff, you’ve now made that early November game to Ames, Iowa, or Chapel Hill, N.C., or Tucson, Ariz. into a playoff game. Want to win your conference and get into the top-four? Don’t slip up in the games that aren’t circled on the calendar.
For what it’s worth, the “Selection Committee Protocol” states that there will be an emphasis on winning conference championships, strength of schedule and head-to-head competition when comparing teams with similar records and pedigree. Are Ohio State and Wisconsin or Penn State similar teams worth comparing? Sure, but I would argue the conference champion aspect makes a big difference. But they also take great pains to note that they’re free to choose anyone, they’re not restricted to the Power-5 conference champions, so who knows?
In the meantime, all we can do is rank the teams to our own wildly varying sets of criteria, and with that in mind, let’s welcome the Hawkeyes to the Power Rankings for the first time this year. Joining them is South Florida, Navy, and West Virginia, all returning for the final regular season edition. See ya next year, Boise State, Washington State, UNC and Arkansas.
Here we go folks: only a few teams have meaningful games to play in this weekend, but everybody’s got meaningful games to watch. Let’s roll for the FINAL POWER RANKINGS OF THE SEASON.