Banter Lads college football College Football Playoff Ohio State sport

Rankings and Analytics: Rearing their ugly heads once more.

As it has been argued before, college football arguably has the most passionate fans in the United States. These hardcore followers adhere to their team and the sport like a cult and will complain at the slightest controversies.

It often comes to a head when rankings are released. Whether it be bemoaning the preseason polls only for an initial top ten team plummeting out of the rankings by week four or the relatively non-transparent way the College Football Playoff selection committee selects their rankings. There is no shortage of conversing occurring.

With rankings oftentimes being the focal point of many discussions, that is what we shall focus on.

While the BCS was a much needed shift from the prior bowl system, the CFP was also a needed and refreshing change.

However, it is not perfect.

Yes, many, including myself, love playoffs. But when looking at how the committee chooses teams (i.e. championships won, strength of schedule, comparative outcomes, etc.), they fail to add an additional factor into their eye test.

This comes in the form of analytics with Sagarin and SP+ being the two most reputable sources within college football. It is important to take these models into account when determining the playoff teams for numerous reasons.

Firstly, these analytics take a predictive, actual, and recent analysis and provides four different and an overall view point of each team. Throw in that they also add an offensive, defensive, and special teams’ analysis and you have a near perfect recipe.

Had the committee looked at these analytics, which they do not as they utilize SportSource Analytics, they would have been able to see that Ohio State more than deserved the top spot in the playoff and was the most dominant team in nearly 20 years.

That was potentially the difference in walloping an overmatched Oklahoma squad and losing to an amazing Clemson one.

While it is ultimately a moot point, it opens the debate to why they do not bring in more factual data and then cite it to back their decisions? Could it take some of the heat off their seats? Maybe. But until then, we will never know.

3 replies on “Rankings and Analytics: Rearing their ugly heads once more.”

The ranking system in college athletics will continued to be skewed until they add unbiased analytics into the mix. I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder coming from a mid-major school and having to fight to even be considered in the rankings. Overall, it’s hard to determine which team is more deserving of a playoff spot so why not use all of the resources available to make that decision.


I actually had no idea how much ranking and analytics played a role in all the controversies surrounding football. Obviously I knew how they could upset people, I just did not realize how flawed the system can be. I believe from the information you shared, that the biggest issue with all this is the chance of human error. No matter what rankings come out, someone isn’t going to be happy.


The whole system is still flawed. Although there are lots of analytics involved, the selection of the playoffs is still done by humans at a subjective level and as long as there are only 4 teams that get into the playoffs there’s always going to be deserving teams that get left out. They could expand the playoffs to 8 teams, having AQs for the winners of each of the Power 5 conferences and then 3 at large bids chosen through analytics.


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