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College Football Playoff Roundtable: Do Wisconsin and Miami pass the eyeball test? And is that enough?

Are these two newcomer national powers the beneficiary of weak divisions?

NCAA Football: Miami at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Here is have our third installment of the RBR College Football Playoff Roundtable. The first two have generated some excellent discussion: The first, we addressed whether Notre Dame should be penalized for failure to play a conference schedule, including that 13th game -- a conference title appearance and potential opportunity to take a loss. Yesterday, we covered some new ground: Should teams’ past performances count for or against them as the Committee makes its choices? And, does it count, whether the committee acknowledges those biases or not?

If you’ve not read those, then check them out. Today, we have Bobby Kunz and Ben Sears tackling our questions and raising their own interesting points.

If the playoff field were announced today, what would the field be and the seeding (in order)?

BMS: Alabama, Penn State, Georgia, and TCU. I’m tempted to move Georgia to number two, but I’m tempted by a lot of things and manage to keep it pretty much on the straight and narrow.

BK: If I was picking the CFB playoffs today I would go 1) Alabama 2) Penn State 3) Georgia and 4) Miami.

Alabama and Penn State are obvious picks for one and two. Their talent alone puts them at the top, but both teams play disciplined, hard and are well-coached. Georgia is playing at an extremely high level and every week that one point win over ND keeps looking better and better. Last spot is where I have some some discrepancies. I love Wisconsin, good Midwest team who plays extremely hard. Only problem is they haven't proved enough yet and they lost two key starting LBs before the season started. I think Miami has their swagger back and can hang with the top teams.

What undefeated Power 5 team needs to remain undefeated to enter the field of four, and why: Alabama, Wisconsin, Miami, TCU, Georgia or Penn State?

BMS: My immediate thought is Wisconsin because all they have in front of them, not counting a conference championship, is a sour-faced Michigan team derping about with its khakis around its ankles. But Miami is out there. Da U is getting zero attention right now. If they drop a game to Notre Dame, VA Tech, or Pitt, we hear nothing about them. They are completely forgotten. But if they finish out and take down whoever they face in the ACC Championship, they have a solid case to be in the top four.

Is that non-committal enough?

BK: I think if Wisconsin and TCU want to get into the field of 4, they both must go undefeated. The Big-12 isn't all that strong this year and B1G has three true contenders with Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio-State. Unless Wisconsin wins out, I think both PSU and OSU would leap frog them.

As of today, what one-loss Power 5 team is in the most trouble and why?

BMS: I don’t think Ohio State makes it past Penn State this weekend.

BK: Oklahoma is in the worst place right now for all P5 one loss teams. I don't see Oklahoma getting into the field of 4, even if they win out.

With the unsteady play by the PAC 12 and the ACC, as well as the cannibalization in the Big 12, is this the year that a conference gets two teams in? Penn State-Ohio State, Alabama-Georgia, Bedlam winner-TCU, etc?

BMS: I certainly hope so. As I said, I think Penn State removes Ohio State from contention. Alabama and Georgia may take the SECCG down to the wire.

You may remember that in 2014 the committee put Alabama, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss in their top four,fully aware that those teams would knock each other off as the season played out. They pretended to prize ability over probability, but they bought courage on the cheap. They got to claim that they put the best teams in the top four despite conference affiliation.

That was as nonsensical, nonconsequential, and unimportant as any of their rankings that didn’t come at the end of the season. It’ll be interesting to see what they do when conference partisans come at them with actual end of the year complaints.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

BK: Honestly, this year I not only think two teams from the same conference can get in the playoff, but I am predicting it. Alabama-Georgia is the most likely outcome IMO. Georgia wins out and keeps the SECCG against Alabama within two touchdowns, I think Georgia gets in.

The playoff committee has, by and large, seemed to adhere to the old BCS computer rankings to determine the field, especially when making determinations between No. 4 - 8. Along the way, the committee cobbles together differing reasons each week for the Top 25. Should we have just used a BCS plus-one model then, or is the playoff format preferable? Why?

BMS: I’m a pre-BCS curmudgeon who’s made it well past my sell-by date. Amongst the great pleasures of college football are the arguments. In the heyday of the game, when bowls matched teams no matter what the ranking, you could have two to four teams citing any number of certifying bodies awarding national championships. The resulting disagreements fueled decades of resentment. It was glorious. Why we let that go in favor of a system that pitted one vs. two every damn year is beyond me.

Clarity is the enemy of belligerence.

Do you see the playoffs expanding in 2026 when the present deals are up? And, should they?

BMS: There is too much money involved for the playoffs not to expand. As to whether they should, I’ll refer to my “Get off my lawn” argument above.

BK: I would love nothing more than to go to an 8-team playoff. I think it would be beneficial for all parties and a lot of college football fans would be happy. Do I think it happens? Probably not, but I'm not counting it out.

Can one-loss Notre Dame overtake a one-loss conference champion for inclusion in the field? Why or why not.

BMS: I doubt it, if for no other reason that they won’t play a conference championship game. That said, if the one loss is against someone like, say, Syracuse… that Georgia loss is looking pretty good.

BK: I honestly like Notre Dame a lot. Their O-Line is one of the best in the nation, and they are phenomenal on the ground. I don't think they are quite there yet, as their passing game isn't anything scary. If they win out, beating Miami and NC State, they absolutely get in. Especially with a national brand, how could the committee deny them?

Switching gears for a second, who is the Group of Five champion and making a big money bowl?

BMS: I’m not the best person to ask about this. I purposely try not to see who is doing well outside of the P5 so that I can YouTube random games during the week and watch them unaware of who is likely to win.

From what I see in the rankings, South Florida and University of Central Florida seem to be well regarded. So, those guys.

BK: The Group of 5 champion has to be Memphis. They are playing well and I think can snag a New Years 6 bowl.

Finally, what is your end-of- season projected field and seeding, including national champion.

BMS: Alabama, Penn State, Georgia, and TCU. That’s my call until I see differently. We win.

BK: Alabama-Miami Penn State-Georgia

I see Alabama playing Penn State in the national championship and Alabama winning a ground and pound game against PSU. Alabama just looks like they can't be stopped this year.


What did Bobby and Ben get wrong? What did they get right? Why do we give some teams the benefit of the eyeball test while we omit others and demand they have more on the resume? Is Penn State the real deal as the authors suspect?