There were only three Division I games this past weekend. In FBS action, Notre Dame moved into fifth place thanks to Navy’s 17-13 upset win over Army. In FCS action, 8th seeded Montana State dominated top seed and defending National Champion Sam Houston State to advance to the semifinals where the Bobcats will host unseeded South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat Villanova for their third playoff win. James Madison and North Dakota State advanced with ease and will meet in Fargo next Saturday for a berth in the national title game. The standings below list remaining playoff teams in blue and bowl teams in red for both classifications.
This past week Kirk Herbstreit tweeted a shot at those of us who recognize that the College Football Playoff format is rigged against Group of Five (G5) teams. He seems to believe that Cincinnati’s inclusion in this year’s playoff is proof that the system is fair. This is absurd. The score is 31 to 1 in favor of Power Five (P5) teams. Of course, the system does not need to guarantee or produce equal outcomes to be fair. The problem is, as always, that beauty contest rules never spell out what beats what. Therefore, G5 teams do not know what they must do at a minimum to place in the top four. P5 teams are basically ranked by their records minus rare exceptions. Through the first seven years of this format, the committee advanced four P5 teams that finished with the fewest losses among that group. At the same time, every top G5 team ranked behind at least one P5 with two or more losses. What’s the difference this year? The top G5 team finished undefeated with a win over a top four P5 team. Is that what is required? If so, that is an incredibly small target that G5 teams must hit to make the playoffs. Even if it is safe to assume that the path to the playoffs for G5 teams is not that narrow, the system does not allow us to know what more past G5 teams, such as 2017 UCF, needed to accomplish. Those who criticize G5 schedules to justify their exclusion never define their terms precisely because doing so will erase the unfair advantages provided by the rigged system. And it is a rigged system no matter much how Mr. Herbstreit denies it.