Anyone who tuned in expecting Michigan and Clemson to plummet following their respective upset losses to Iowa and Pitt must have been disappointed. The No. 3 Wolverines remained right where they were last week. The No. 4 Tigers dropped two spots but still control their destiny.
If it’s not yet abundantly clear three years into this system, let me try to make it so: The committee values big wins far more than it punishes for bad losses.
As committee chair Kirby Hocutt noted, the Wolverines have three wins over current Top 10 teams (No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 8 Penn State and No. 10 Colorado). No other team can claim that. And Clemson has three Top 25 wins (No. 5 Louisville, No. 15 Auburn and No. 17 Florida State), two more than the Louisville team directly behind it – which it also beat head-to-head.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
Ohio State and Louisville are in much different positions
Both teams are 9-1 with their only losses to fellow Top 10 teams. And both teams could win out and not play for their conference championship. Were that to happen, though, it’s hard to imagine the committee won’t keep No. 2 Ohio State in the top four given it can add a win over No. 3 Michigan to its already impressive resume.
The No. 5 Cardinals, on the other hand, are likely going to finish with just one Top 25 win (FSU). What will Louisville’s best argument be? That it has Lamar Jackson and you don’t?
“We talk about teams, performances of the team,” said Hocutt. “We don't talk about individual players in that regard."
Getty ImagesGregory Shamus
Washington lost on Saturday but won Tuesday night
While the committee can arbitrarily reorder teams at any time, don’t dismiss the significance of the sixth-ranked Huskies (9-1) remaining a spot above 8-2 Wisconsin. I thought the order might be reversed given the Badgers’ superior schedule strength to this point.
Both teams can still win their respective conferences, and could end up fighting directly for the fourth spot. And while Wisconsin could get a chance to beat a Top 10 opponent in the Big Ten title game, Washington might play two ranked foes -- No. 22 Washington State and the Pac-12 South champ. It also picked up another Top 25 win Tuesday when 7-3 Stanford debuted at No. 24.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY SportsTroy Wayrynen
The committee hates West Virginia
At least it seems that way. Not only are the 8-1 Mountaineers buried all the way down at No. 14, but a three-loss team, USC, moved one spot above them Tuesday. Hocutt cited the fact Dana Holgoresen’s team has played just one Top 25 foe, Oklahoma State, and lost that game.
But do you know who’s also 0-1 against current Top 25 teams? No. 9 Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma is a team that has a tremendous offense,” said Hocutt. “They've continued to bounce back from two early season losses. They're on a seven-game winning streak.”
Maybe the Sooners will get that first big win Saturday – at West Virginia.
John Rieger-USA TODAY SportsJohn Rieger
The committee might spoil Western Michigan's party
The 10-0 Broncos were the committee’s highest-ranked Group of 5 team the first two weeks, but this week 9-1 Boise State moved up to No. 20, one spot above Western. That doesn’t automatically guarantee Boise will beat out P.J. Fleck’s team for a Cotton Bowl berth, because Boise still needs help in order to win its division, but it still doesn’t bode well.
Clearly the committee feels the Mountain West is a tougher grind than #MACtion.