2016-17 FBS Playoff Preview

2016-17 FBS Playoff Preview

This football season, like all the others it seems, failed to disappoint! There were a few raucous weekends when the unexpected happened (i.e. several Top 10 teams were upset).

Diamond RankingsTM is once again proving its worth and value by having steady rankings week-in and week-out and leading the way with a truly scientific method which could reduce the potential legitimate arguments against the current unscientific method. The College Football Playoff (CFP) committee is very fortunate that this seemingly unreliable method gets as close to correct as it does.

The first three teams in each ranking (CFP and Diamond RankingsTM) are the same but, not in the same order – Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson. Things go off the rails a bit from there.

Diamond Rankings has Michigan at #4 while the CFP felt that Washington was the better of the two teams. As you can see in the Diamond Rankings, the difference between the two teams is razor thin.

Table 1 – Top 10 FBS – Diamond Rankings
Rank Teamname Measure Standard Error of Measurement
1 Alabama                     102.80       5.45
2 Ohio State                   96.93        5.07
3 Clemson                      91.42        5.10
4 Michigan                     89.77        5.23
5 Washington                89.45        5.31
6 Western Michigan    87.39         6.89
7 Penn State                  85.57         4.84
8 Colorado                     85.12         5.10
9 Oklahoma                   83.45        5.55
10 Wisconsin                83.22         4.86

Table 2 – Top 10 – College Football Playoff Rankings
1 Alabama                13 – 0
2 Clemson                12 – 1
3 Ohio State             11 – 1
4 Washington          12 – 1
5 Penn State             11 – 2
6 Michigan               10 – 2
7 Oklahoma              10 – 2
8 Wisconsin              10 – 3
9 USC                          9 – 3
10 Colorado              10 – 3

Given the team measures and standard errors of measurement, Alabama should have little trouble winning the two games of the CFP. ‘Bama’s measure is more than 2X SEMs better than Washington and a little more than one greater than Ohio State. With ‘Bama’s defense, they will win the College Football Playoff Championship. Anything less than a National Championship will be one of the greatest upsets in college football history. Alabama is THAT good. There are at least seven players, reportedly, projected to be NFL first round draft picks on defense for the Crimson Tide – it’s like a rookie NFL team already!

Ohio State will likely beat Clemson to set up the highly anticipated Alabama-Ohio State championship game. It is rather peculiar that the experts heaped love on Ohio St all season saying they’re clearly the #2 team in the country but, the CFP committee saw fit to lift them into the #2 slot even though OSU is #2 in all of the polls and Diamond Rankings’ measure is a full SEM higher than Clemson’s. That must be Clemson’s reward for winning their conference championship. That does not make them better than OSU. Isn’t the CFP supposed to be the four best teams? Sure, OSU is still in the playoff you say but, OSU is still clearly the better team. One loss to a very good team and they drop a position because they didn’t win their conference??

Other notes from the Diamond Rankings:

Western Michigan was the anomaly of the 2016 regular season by going undefeated to finish 13-0 and winning the Mid-American Conference Championship. Because of their weak schedule, #6 is the highest they could climb despite winning every game. They are only #12 in the AP Poll and #15 in the CFP. Their weak schedule is shown in the Diamond Rankings by their high SEM. Their error is high because they are a relative unknown quantity from a traditionally weak conference. They did beat two Big Ten teams – their season opener at Northwestern and a convincing road win at Illinois.

The only other teams with SEMs >6.0 are at the bottom of the rankings. There are 128 teams in the FBS and the first other SEM >6.0 is Rutgers (6.57) at #120! The teams near the bottom of the rankings have 0 to 2 wins and are also rather unknown quantities. Now you’ll say, well Alabama is undefeated and their SEM is 5.45! Correct! Look at their schedule – it is one of the most difficult schedules in the country! They’ve played a great schedule and have won each game while allowing a minimum of points. Bama is a known quantity. WMU, not so much.

My next article will discuss strength of schedule and conference strength and how all of these different measures are all on the same ruler (all measures are in the same unit of measurement like inches, for example).

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