The College Football Playoff committee released their week 13 rankings last night, and as expected by your humble chronicler (but not by most of you, who thing the fix is in), Oklahoma surged into the #3 spot in the committee's rankings after a close win over TCU.
The Sooners were the beneficiary of losses by Ohio State and Oklahoma State, sweeping forward and passing Iowa, still grossly overrated. As far as the computers are concerned, the team with beef right now is Ohio State -- and unlike Oklahoma, who proved their problem would resolve itself with wins, Ohio State has no such benefit. The Buckeyes need Michigan State to lose in order to reach the Big 10 Championship Game, but Michigan State losing would actually hurt the Buckeyes' argument in comparison with Notre Dame and/or Baylor. The Big 10's spot very much appears to be either the Hawkeyes, Spartans, or nobody.
As for the Pac 12, barring some sort of mass chaos over the following two weeks you can kiss them goodbye. But the Cardinal would help themselves both directly and indirectly with a win this week; they'd move up at least one spot as Notre Dame tumbles past them and they'd stand to gain at least one more spot thanks to the Big 10. A Big 12 screwup or two and an Alabama loss to Florida would get Stanford right back into the picture. They're hurt, though, by the next Pac 12 team being #20 Washington State. The other four Power 5 conferences have at least two teams in the top 12.
But these are details you can all argue amongst yourselves with as much aplomb as your typical television talking head. What our goal is here on a weekly basis is to shine a bright light on the absolute absurdity of the committee's thought processes. As usual, they have the top three right compared to the consensus of statistical measures as denoted by the Massey Composite Ranking.
Two teams in the composite top 25 are not in the CFP top 25: #20 LSU and #25 Houston. The two teams who don't belong, and are easily the two most overrated teams by the committee, are #33 Temple and #35 Washington State. The other really terribly overrated team is, again, Northwestern, although they are still a top-25 team in the eyes of the computers. So it probably doesn't matter whether they're #16 or #22 in the eyes of the committee, with their stupidly arbitary "top-25 wins" metric. Florida State and Iowa are also significantly overrated, but nobody else represents a glaring error.
The most undervalued teams are Ohio State and TCU. I'm already on record as being baffled as to how Ohio State is still #4 in the computer rankings. I can argue in favor of Alabama, as they actually have a large number of decent wins. Ohio State, not so much. TCU, on the other hand, is a really glaring issue. One can only surmise the committee is actually counting Trevone Boykin's absence against the Horned Frogs just as the NCAA basketball committee will shun a bubble team who loses a star player in February who won't return for the tournament. But there is no excuse at all for TCU being behind Northwestern, and one could also make a case that North Carolina has no business being ahead of the Frogs. I can understand the arguments for 3-loss Mississippi and Oregon being ahead, however, as they at least have marquee wins; TCU does not. Beating Baylor would solve that, but folks concerned about the Big 12's January payday probably don't want that to happen.
The only other team that's underrated enough to really mention is Utah, but the difference between 20 and 23 is probably negligible. There are a lot of other one- and two-place discrepancies, but in the larger scheme of things those are excusable, and since the one that's actually important involves Michigan State being overrated by two spots, it's a moot point. Two weeks from now they will either not be overrated, or they'll be out of the picture.
Last note: Navy, Temple, and Toledo are now the only Group of Five teams in the top 25. Toledo's problem: they cannot win the MAC unless Northern Illinois loses to Ohio on Saturday, and if they don't win the MAC they would not be entitled to the New Year's bowl bid regardless of their ranking. That means that there are two games in the American of vital importance to the major bowl picture, although one would expect Houston to return to the top 25 should they beat the Middies. In short, you can safely expect the American champion to be playing in a major bowl unless South Florida somehow stumbles into it... which would open the door for Air Force or San Diego State. It would be an absolutely insane turn of events for Air Force to grab the major bowl bid that many thing belongs to Navy at this point.
As with previous installments, we present the CFP ranks alongside the computer composite. Green means overrated, red means underrated, and the darker the hue the more egregious the discrepancy.