College Football Playoff rankings have been released; should you be worried?

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The vaunted College Football Playoff rankings were released for the first time today. I wondered, is it time to start freaking out?

These things always seem to take care of themselves. Most of the top programs are still alive

When it comes to college football, there is always controversy, however, things seem to take care of themselves.

Remember in 2o07, when the chaos of the BCS was still reigning? Going into the final week of the season, here were the rankings:

Week 7

And then teams 1, 2, 4, and 6 lost. The 7th and 8th team didn’t have much of an argument to be in the final game, given they had 2 losses already.

Week 8

Things took care of themselves. The same thing will happen this time around.

Here are my predictions for the CFP:

1. The SEC Champion is in no matter what. It’s still mathematically possible that the SEC winner has 3 losses.

2. Florida State is in, unless they lose the ACC Championship Game (and predictions 3-7 still have only 1 loss, see below…)

3. Oregon is in if they run the table in the Pac 12, including the Championship Game. I believe they will do this.

4. Notre Dame is in if they run the table on their season. This includes beating Arizona State, Louisville, and USC. I don’t think they can do this, but it’s certainly possible.

5. If 2-4 somehow disqualify themselves, the next team in is the Big 12 Champion if they only have 1 loss. Since it’s possible that 2 of TCU, Baylor. and Kansas St. make it through with only 1 loss, my prediction is that the winner of the head-to-head between these two teams will make it.

6. The B1G Winner with only 1 loss

7. A 1-loss team from the SEC: either a team that doesn’t qualify for the championship game, or the loser of the championship game with only 1 loss. I would have completely ignored a 2nd team from the SEC if it wasn’t for 2011, when the SEC had both representatives in the National Championship Game.

There are a couple key considerations that go into these predictions. I just finished reading Thinking Fast and Slow, and there are so many biases I believe the committee will fall prey to. A human committee is more susceptible to biases than a hybrid system:

  1. For example, the Availability Bias: Recent losses will weigh more heavily in this system than in the BCS. A loss in the last week could doom a team
  2. Another bias that will be prevalent is the Anchoring Bias. The rankings that came out this week really matter. The relatively lower ranking of the Big Ten will be difficult to overcome. The fact that Oregon and Notre Dame ended up where the did mean that winning-out is an easy path to the playoff. If all teams win, these rankings will largely persist despite very different win quality. I would prefer a system that didn’t do interim check-ins, and rated the teams only at the end of the season (similar to the NCAA basketball tournament).

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