Poor Georgia. The Groundhog Day recurring nightmare happened yet again. They played over their heads for three and a half quarters, led by two touchdowns, knocked the probable Heisman Trophy winner out of the game, and still lost to nemesis Alabama. They can’t be blamed if they develop a serious inferiority complex.
Like a cagily-crafted novel, the protagonist—Jalen Hurts—loses his job to the understudy who wins a National Championship and leads the team to a stellar following season while the protagonist—Jalen Hurts—licks his wounds on the sidelines. But wait, in the biggest game of the new season the understudy’s fatal flaw is revealed—he is injury-prone. And then the protagonist is called out of the bullpen to save his team and claim his moment of redemption. It’s a beautifully written script for a Hollywood feel-good movie and we all cried at the end before we all cheered for the good guy.
So, what becomes of Georgia? Unlike the hidebound, inside-the-box thinking of the College Football Playoff committee, our system had the Bulldogs at No. 3 in the nation going into the SEC title game and leading No.4 Oklahoma 91.84 to 90.02. (Notre Dame was No. 5 at 88.88 and since they didn’t play this weekend their grade remained unchanged.) In its win over Texas, Oklahoma earned a grade of 88.36 meaning that their seasonal average DROPPED to 89.89. Just because the Sooners won doesn’t mean their win had the same quality as every other win on Saturday.
In its close loss to Alabama, Georgia earned a grade of 73.80, dropping their seasonal average to 90.45. Therefore, Georgia was still ahead of both Oklahoma and Notre Dame if we’re ranking teams based upon how good they are and NOT based upon their record.
There are a lot of 20th Century thinkers out there (remember that we’re well into the 21st Century) who say things like, “Georgia lost twice and didn’t win their conference championship.” That’s no longer valid thinking. We are now ranking teams to find the four best to play in the playoff. So, we have to stop looking at won/lost records and start looking at how well teams play the game.
The archaic old school won/lost record must be tossed on the trash heap with land line telephones and bell-bottomed pants. Since teams don’t play the same opponents in the same locations under the same circumstances, won/lost records can’t be compared. Since a team can play poorly and still win (Notre Dame did it many times this season), or play well and still lose (as Georgia did), won/lost records aren’t a valid or logical way to judge how good a team is.
Here’s how the RPG system ranked the top teams conference championship weekend:
Ranking Team Game Grade Season Grade
1 Alabama 82.56 99.59
2 Clemson 108.95 99.28
3 Georgia 73.80 90.45
4 Oklahoma 88.36 89.89
5 Notre Dame DNP 88.88
6 Ohio State 94.94 86.59
7 Michigan DNP 86.51
8 UCF 89.39 85.71
Using the factual and scientific RPG rankings as the measure, Kirk Herbstreit was right in his preferences for the field. The ESPN computers set lines for games between Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Notre Dame. Georgia was the favorite in every game; Notre Dame was the underdog in every game. So, the committee was the only group to get it wrong. The playoff committee has made a mistake in its playoff invitations for the fifth consecutive year, this year by inviting Notre Dame simply because they have an unbeaten record and not because they are one of the four best teams in the country.
Like last year, when the committee struggled to choose between Alabama and Ohio State, the committee again struggled to choose between the WRONG TWO TEAMS. Last year they should have chosen between Ohio State and Clemson (and Clemson was the right choice). This year they compared Oklahoma and Georgia when they should have compared Oklahoma to Notre Dame (with Oklahoma being the right choice).
The good news is that we’ll see the two strongest candidates for the Heisman Trophy compete against each other and we’ll get to see if Oklahoma can outscore a team that actually plays defense (that’s talking to you, Joey Galloway).
And, what of the other unbeaten team—UCF? Without their star quarterback they came from behind to defeat the 56th best team in the country—Memphis—to win another non-Power Five conference title. I guess that means they’ll be changing the sign on their stadium wall to say “2017 and 2018 National Champions.” UCF will be in another New Year’s Day bowl game. Who will be this year’s Auburn?
You might wonder why the NCAA doesn’t intervene and make UCF take down their sign. The reason is that the college football national champion does not win an NCAA title. College football is the only sanctioned NCAA sport in which the NCAA neither conducts a tournament nor awards a trophy. Why? Too much money involved to let the NCAA screw it up.
For a complete list of ranked teams and weekend playing performance grades, visit www.nemosnumbers.com. If you want to know how the numerical grades are calculated, find a copy of Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics wherever you buy books.