Clemson beat Ohio State 31-0, eliminating the Buckeyes from the College Football Playoff. The embarrassing result offered some proof that the playoff committee selected the wrong team from the Big Ten. That argument is…dumb.
The committee could only go on the information available at the time, which did not include the final result of an Ohio State/Clemson game played a month later.
Statistical performance supported Ohio State having a better résumé. Advanced metrics, FEI (No. 2 vs. No. 6) and S&P+ (No. 3 vs. No. 12), both ranked the Buckeyes significantly higher. SRS rankings (No. 2 vs. No. 5) ranked Ohio State higher.
Consensus wisdom supported Ohio State being better. The Buckeyes finished No. 2 in the Coaches Poll. Only six of 58 votes had them outside the Top 4. Only 10 of 58 coaches (nine who weren’t James Franklin) had Penn State in the playoff. Only one of 61 AP voters had Ohio State outside the Top 4. Only 9/61 had Penn State in the Top 4.
Both arguments for the committee to overturn that in Penn State’s favor – conference championship, head to head – were the same argument, stemming from one Special Teams play. The committee went with the win-loss record, the numbers, and the consensus wisdom.
No one saw the Clemson beat down coming. Clemson had six narrow one-score wins. Oddsmakers made Ohio State a three-point favorite entering the neutral site game.
Suggesting Ohio State’s loss is an argument for Penn State is not only ex post facto reasoning. It’s ex post facto reasoning with incomplete data. The Nittany Lions still have to play their bowl game, where they are a +7.5 underdog.
Both contentious committee decisions thus far have involved Ohio State. The committee’s choice in 2014 was far iffier. An emphatic B1G title game win allowed the committee to just take Ohio State, avoiding having to decide the impossible between Baylor and TCU. But, that decision ended up looking much better as Ohio State upset Alabama and went on to win the playoff.
Look forward to next year when the argument against the B1G champ is the previous two B1G champs were blown out.