CFP’s explanation for ranking Michigan ahead of Michigan State is troubling
Michigan and Michigan State are both 9-1 this season. Michigan State also defeated Michigan when the teams met on Oct. 30 in East Lansing. You would think the teams having the same record and Michigan State winning their head-to-head matchup would lead the Spartans to be ranked ahead of the Wolverines. But that’s not the case with the College Football Playoff committee.
For the second week in a row, the CFP had Michigan ranked No. 6 and Michigan State No. 7.
The explanation from the CFP Selection Committee Chairman Gary Barta for this difference is baffling.
“Set aside watching the games, that’s certainly a part of it. But statistically in just about every category offensively and defensively, Michigan comes out on top over Michigan State,” Barta said Tuesday in explaining the decision.
That explanation is hard to deal with. Shouldn’t what happened in a head-to-head matchup, providing the teams’ records are the same, be the tiebreaker? What statistic matters more than who won the game when the teams played?
The issue might temporarily be moot; Michigan State faces Ohio State this weekend and will either jump or fall in the rankings based on what happens in that game. However, Michigan faces Ohio State the following week, and we could end up right back in the same spot with both teams having two losses and the Spartans holding a head-to-head advantage.
No matter how you view it, it’s troubling that the committee isn’t making the head-to-head outcome between teams the priority. They’re not even being consistent about it either, because statistically, Ohio State (ranked No. 4) is better than Oregon (No. 3) across the board despite losing to them.
Photo: Sep 3, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker walks on the field during warmups before the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports