College Football Playoff Rankings: Why Ohio State Deserves Top 4 Still & Oregon Is Overranked

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Written By Kelley Ford | Last Updated
college football playoff rankings

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee released its penultimate rankings, and the four undefeated teams occupy the top four spots: Georgia, Michigan, Washington, and Florida State. The CFP committee is the ultimate authority in choosing the four playoff teams that will decide CFB national championship futures, and the best college football betting sites adjust their odds accordingly. Here’s the problem. The methodology for the CFP playoff bracket is archaic and often inconsistent. Ohio State should still be in the top four conversation despite losing to Michigan, and Oregon is being overranked.

In today’s environment of advanced statistics and more sophisticated mathematical models, better ways exist to rank college football teams. Enter the KFord Most-Deserving Rankings. Let’s further explain the case for the Buckeyes below.

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MOST-DESERVING COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS

To summarize, my KFord Most-Deserving (MD) Rankings are a results-oriented (résumé-based) measure of how a team has performed against its schedule (including scoring margin) relative to how the average top-25 FBS team would be expected to perform against that same schedule. It is not a power rating.

For a full explanation of the inputs and concepts to keep in mind, refer back to my first CFB rankings post of the season. According to my MD Rankings, which teams are the most over- and under-ranked by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee? Let’s discuss.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL Playoff VS. KFORD MOST-DESERVING Rankings: Week 12

IT HAS NEVER BEEN THIS CLOSE AT THE TOP

I have been publicly generating the Most Deserving Rankings for five years now. During that time, never have three teams – let alone four – been tied to the nearest one-thousandth in this metric. Not only is that the case this week, but it’s four critically important positions in the four-team format: Nos. 2-5!

  1. Michigan 1.029
  2. Georgia 1.000
  3. Washington 1.000
  4. Ohio State 1.000
  5. Florida State 1.000
  6. Texas 0.995
  7. Alabama 0.988
  8. Oregon 0.901

By my numbers, as of right now, there is effectively nothing separating the résumés of Georgia, Washington, Ohio State, and Florida State. The question becomes how the committee will treat the Seminoles with a two-game sample of starting a back-up QB.

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Since the first 2023 College Football Playoff Selection Committee top 25 was released on Halloween, the same eight teams have occupied the top eight. Since I’ve already outlined how little separates the top five of my Most Deserving Rankings, I feel comfortable saying no team in the top 4 is grossly over- or underranked. Instead, let’s focus on a team just outside the top 4, which is positioned to do something no team has done in the past five years: make the College Football Playoff despite not finishing in the top 4 of my Most Deserving Rankings.

No. 5 Oregon Ducks (11-1, 8-1): +3 spots compared to KFord Most Deserving Rankings

Results

  • W 81-7 vs FCS Portland State
  • W 38-30 at No. 34 Texas Tech
  • W 55-10 vs No. 121 Hawaii
  • W 42-6 vs No. 59 Colorado
  • W 42-6 at No. 105 Stanford
  • L 33-36 at No. 9 Washington
  • W 38-24 vs No. 47 Washington State
  • W 35-6 at No. 21 Utah
  • W 63-19 vs No. 51 California
  • W 36-27 vs No. 17 USC
  • W 49-13 at No. 87 Arizona State
  • W 31-7 vs No. 17 Oregon State

That’s right. Since I started generating my Most Deserving Rankings in 2019, not only has my final top four matched the Committee’s top four, it has always been in the exact same order. Ranked No. 5, and as a nearly double-digit favorite against No. 3 Washington this week, Oregon poses a serious threat to breaking the streak.

It boils down to the age-old philosophical debate: do you want the four best teams or the four most deserving?

If you want the four best teams, it’s hard to make the case against Oregon. The Ducks are No. 3 in my power ratings with the nation’s No. 1 offense and a defense that is playing its best football of the entire season, ranking a season-high No. 14. Since the preseason, Oregon has improved its power rating a whopping 10.6 points. Only Jacksonville State (11.4) and Arizona (11.1) have been upgraded more.

But if we truly wanted the four best teams, we should just let Vegas power-rate every team and tell us which are the four best. Why even keep score? No. I have always contended that when it comes to inclusion in the College Football Playoff, it should be about deservedness or merit, not about which team we – or Vegas – think is best. The games have to matter. Otherwise, what are we even doing?

And from a deservedness standpoint, it’s hard to make the case for Oregon, at least right now. The Ducks are No. 8 in my record achievement metric and No. 8 in my Most Deserving Rankings. Oregon’s best wins, by my numbers, in order, are: at No. 21 power-rated Utah, vs. No. 17 USC, vs. No. 17 Oregon State (remember, it’s opponent power rating at the time of the game or current, whichever is better), at No. 34 Texas Tech and vs No. 47 Washington State.

Currently, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Texas, and No. 8 Alabama have more impressive résumés than Oregon.

KFord Résumé Metrics

  • MD: No. 8
  • REC: 16% (No. 8)
  • SM: 14.5 (No. 2)

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FULL FBS COLLEGE FOOTBALL MOST DESERVING RANKINGS: Week 12

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