Covering WVU for three years now I’ve obviously become somewhat bias toward the Mountaineers. However, bias it not necessarily needed when looking at the final college football playoff (CFP) rankings.
The Mountaineers finished the regular season ranked No. 16 in the nation. While that is a commendable accomplishment something simply did not sit right with me. The ranking seemed too low.
There is no doubt there has been a bias toward the Big 12 this season. It all started with Oklahoma losing to both Houston and Ohio State early and by week three the Big 12 had lost respect.
Let’s be honest, the Mountaineers had a chance to better their position. Beating Oklahoma State and Oklahoma would have arguably made WVU a prime candidate for the CFP. Alas though, that was not meant to be this season. However, looking at the teams ranked above and below WVU I started to notice trends. Below is the resume of four different teams, there is one glaring difference, see if you can find it.
Team A: Finished the season 8-4 and 3rd in their respective division. Their best win came early in the season against a team that ended ranked in the final CFP poll. Two of their four losses came at the hands of, now, unranked opponents. SOS rank: 21
Team B: Finished the season 9-3 and also 3rd in their respective division. Their best win came against a non-conference (ranked) opponent late in the season who finished 8-4. One of their two losses came to an unranked opponent. SOS rank: 18
Team C: Finished the season 9-3 and 2nd in their division. Their biggest win came against a ranked opponent who finished 9-3. Two of their three losses came at the hands of unranked opponents late in the season. SOS rank: 70
Team D: Finished the season 10-2 and ranked 3rd in their conference via tiebreaker. Their biggest victory came against an 8-4 unranked opponent. Both losses came to highly ranked opponents. SOS rank: 43
Team A is Auburn ranked No. 14. Their biggest win came against LSU (ranked 20th with final record of 7-4) early in the season. They lost to unranked oppenents Texas A&M and Georgia.
Team B is Florida State ranked No. 11. The Seminoles biggest win came late in the season against Florida (ranked 17th with final record of 8-4) at home. Worse loss was to unranked UNC.
Team C is Louisville ranked No. 13. Their best win came against Florida State (finished ranked 11th with final record of 9-3) in the beginning of the season. They lost to both unranked Houston and Kentucky to end their 2016 campaign.
Team D is WVU ranked No. 16. The Mountaineers best win came early against BYU. Only losses were to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, both of which are ranked above WVU in the final poll.
Do you see the differences here? First and foremost WVU is the only 10 win team among those listed above. Secondly, WVU is the only team to not lose to an unranked opponent this season.
WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen held nothing back criticizing the committee after the Mountaineers final victory of the season. And in his assessment he was correct.
“Somehow the committee don’t like us because somehow we win too ugly. I thought it was about winning football games, and we’ve won 10.”
He’s absolutely correct. How can a 10 win team out of a power 5 conference be ranked below 8 and 9 win programs, all of which whom lost to lower ranked opponents? The biggest gripe here is Louisville. The Cardinals finished the season with a strength of schedule ranking of 70, 37 spots below WVU, finished with one more loss, and lost to two unranked opponents.
WVU, Auburn, and Florida State all notched their biggest wins against opponents that finished 8-4, Louisville’s biggest win came against a 9-3 team. Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers deserved better and still deserve a better explanation other than, “just because.”
You can read more in-depth analysis of how the Committee left the entire Big 12 in limbo HERE.