Clemson Football had a well-earned bye this weekend, but much of the rest of college football was taking the field. Unfortunately for the Tigers, some of the teams they needed to do well for the sake of their resume laid eggs.
Clemson still controls their destiny: if they win out, they will be undefeated with a Power Five conference champion. An undefeated Power Five conference champion has never been left out of the College Football Playoff. This is not likely to be the first year it happens, despite the speculation of people who have crushes on the SEC and the Big Ten.
That doesn’t mean the resume won’t be important. Being in the Top 4 is great, but being #4 means the team must play the best team in the regular season in the semifinal bowl game, which is not what they want. The eye test is important, but the resume is also important to the committee, a reality that much of the rest of college football observers tend to forget during the first two months of the season.
I would agree that the committee has trended towards more eye test than they did when the CFP was started in 2014. Back then, I think they looked at 67% resume and 33% eye test. At times, it seemed the eye test was simply a tiebreaker. In more recent years, I think the committee takes a 50%-50% split between the resume and eye test.
Let’s look at the Top 10 resumes for this week:
#1 Clemson 8-0 – resume score: 36.25
Clemson has three wins over the AP Top 25, including a road win over Wake Forest. They also have two more road wins over P5 competition, as well as a de facto road win over Georgia Tech at a “neutral site”. The Tigers’ resume is strong, and it will likely get them ranked a bit higher in the CFP rankings than some other eye test pundits think.
#2 TCU 8-0 – resume score: 34
Another team that doesn’t get as much respect nationally because of their conference. Additionally, the Horned Frogs weren’t blessed with preseason hype. Nobody knew who Max Duggan was until September was over. Now he’s squarely in the Heisman conversation. Clemson & TCU are both in the same place right now: great resumes, but they have to battle the biases for the SEC and Big Ten. TCU has two wins over the AP T25 and three road wins over P5 competition. TCU’s placement in the CFP rankings will give us a strong indication of how the current committee members view resume vs eye test.
#3 Georgia 8-0 – resume score: 30.5
Georgia may have the best chance of any team to get the top spot in the CFP rankings on Tuesday night. They are the defending champions. Performance in previous seasons shouldn’t make a difference in 2022 rankings, but they do. Georgia has been #1 in the AP poll quite a bit this season, and let’s just be honest: they play in the SEC. I would like to think that the committee members are less likely to have conference biases, but who knows?
#4 (tied) Tennessee 8-0 – resume score: 30
Tennessee has four wins over AP Top 25 opponents, including a big win over LSU in Baton Rouge. So why aren’t they higher on the resume rankings? The biggest reason is they haven’t ventured away from Knoxville that often. The three teams ahead of them have played a stronger schedule away from home, either at the opponent’s stadium or, in Georgia’s case, at two neutral sites. I don’t think this will hold Tennessee back too much. They have a good eye test, and they didn’t let a looming contest against Georgia distract them from handling business against Kentucky.
#4 (tied) Ohio State 8-0 – resume score: 30
I’ve been noting how bad Ohio State’s score has been all season, and the reason was simple: no road games. They had their chance against Penn State this weekend in Happy Valley and they made the most of it. Didn’t look good in the first half? I could goof on anyone who says that for grasping at straws, but the reality is the resume score doesn’t care about the scoreboard at halftime. It cares about the final and the Buckeyes thrashed the Nittany Lions in the second half. Nothing gives your resume a boost like a road win over an AP T25 opponent, and that is what Ohio State got Saturday. Additionally, the Buckeyes have four home wins over P5 opponents, the most of any school in the nation, with another P5 road win on top. The resume has caught up to the eye test here.
#6 USC 7-1 – resume score: 29
Like Ole Miss, a road win over a P5 opponent has brought the Trojans’ score back as we approach the first CFP rankings. They hold one of the top two spots in the PAC-12, which would put them into the championship game if they can hold onto it. It would seem a conference championship would be an absolute necessity for any PAC-12 team to have any hope for a playoff berth, as there are no undefeated teams left in the conference.
#7 (tied) Michigan 8-0 – resume score: 28
The resume scores through the middle of the Top 10 are very tight right now. Michigan handled business against Sparty at home, and it gave them a bump, but road victories by the Buckeyes and the Rebels pushed them slightly ahead. Not a worry for the Wolverines – they are still ranked in the Top 4 of the AP poll and control their destiny with the big matchup against Ohio State looming at the end of the season.
#7 (tied) Ole Miss 8-1 – resume score: 28
Ole Miss has the highest resume score of the one-loss teams, and there is a simple reason: they have played nine games. Most teams have taken their bye week and have only played eight. The Rebels will take their well-deserved break this coming weekend. The loss to LSU hurts them a bit, but it was a road loss to a Top 25 team, which is the least impactful kind of loss. The Rebels are squarely in contention in the SEC East, and probably have their eyes on their 11/12 matchup against the Tide in Oxford.
#9 Oregon 7-1 – resume score: 26.75
The Ducks are a hair behind the Trojans but have the advantage in conference play because their only loss was out of conference on a “neutral” field to Georgia. While USC must face UCLA, Oregon must play Utah to lock down a spot in the PAC-12 championship game. The biggest problem for the Ducks right now is that loss to the Bulldogs, which was a 46-point blowout. The committee tends to not forget such things.
#10 Alabama 7-1 – resume score: 24
Blasphemy! How can Nick Saban be barely ranked in the Top 10? Well, Bama’s most recent victim, Mississippi State, fell out of the T25 after that game. Then they had a bye this past weekend, so their score stays at 24 like it was last week, and multiple teams passed them with wins while they were taking their break. It’s nothing to worry about for Tide fans. Nobody gets the benefit of the doubt more than Alabama, and they still control their destiny in the SEC West, with games against Ole Miss and LSU coming up.