The Difference Between Number 4 and Number 25? You Tell Me

by Paul Grossinger
(Baltimore, Md )

When I read the rankings on Sunday, the first thing I thought of was an incomplete puzzle. To me, the current Top 25 looks like a puzzle everyone keeps trying to put together even though we all know its missing a few key pieces.

What are these ‘pieces’ I’m referring to? First off, there is not a legitimate 6-10 group in college football right now. While the top four, currently Florida, Texas, Alabama, and LSU, seems well entrenched, the rest of the rankings are a complete crapshoot. What separates number five Virginia Tech from undefeated Boise State and Cincinnati or perennial powers USC and Ohio State? How can one rank Tech, which has one loss, and a convincing one at that, to Alabama already on the books, above a Boise State that hasn’t even been challenged yet? Or a Cincinnati squad that has rules the Big East? Or, if one were simply ranking these lower on account of the inferior competition they have faced thus far, how can Tech still be a full 5 places ahead of an OSU team whose one loss came on a last minute play against USC or, conversely, four places above a USC group that has already defeated two ranked teams on the road? While I think VT is a strong football team and I was duly impressed by their romp over the Hurricanes, none of that makes much sense to me.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t just this weeks’ rankings, its endemic inside of a system that is entirely subjective. How does one ‘rank’ all of Division I Football? It is a motley collection of different conferences and teams, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses and match up against different opponents in a rainbow of combinations that no rankings voter could ever take into account. For instance, how does one rank Boise State with any degree of accuracy as this season goes on? Its schedule, which features no more games against opponents ever likely to be ranked, should see it go undefeated unless it pulls a Pete Carroll (no disrespect to the great coach but USC does choke on one freebie each year) and loses to the likes of Idaho.

How then, when the rankings come out at the end of the season, will the BCS justify leaving BSU out of the national championship when at least one of the two teams playing for it will have a loss or two? We’ll have to wait and see. For the moment, however, it strikes me that there are a lot of good teams and absolutely no way to tell who is best after the top four.

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2017

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