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With the release of the third College Football Playoff Rankings, Wisconsin saw themselves on the rise yet again while the top four remained steady.
Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State makes up the playoff if it started today, while undefeated Cincinnati would be on the outside looking in.
How solid are the top four? Can Cincinnati find a way to sneak into the playoff as the first Group of Five school to make it in? These are all questions that were touched on after the rankings were released. Current Iowa AD and College Football Playoff Selection Committee Chair Gary Barta addressed the biggest concerns. Here is what he had to say on Tuesday:
About the conversations surrounding Notre Dame
GARY BARTA: Well, they have great wins — they won again this week at Virginia. One of the things the committee did note is that Virginia did not have their starting quarterback, but they’re 9-1, they have really — they have a very strong strength of schedule. They have wins against Wisconsin and Purdue. Their loss, obviously, was to Cincinnati.
We think very highly of them. They continue to play good football. Just put them just after Michigan State, obviously.
On the discrepancy between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's ranking
GARY BARTA: Well, Oklahoma — going into this week Oklahoma was undefeated. The committee recognized that and credited them for that. One of the things that was talked about was that their strength of schedule and the teams that they had beat leading up to last week, they just weren’t as strong as some of the other teams we were comparing them to. Had their opportunity against a very good Baylor team and obviously Baylor came out on top.
As we started to go through the rankings this week, we don’t necessarily compare Oklahoma directly to Oklahoma State, but in the grouping, Mississippi, Baylor and Wake Forest all had big wins. Mississippi beat A&M, Baylor of course beat Oklahoma head-to-head, and then Wake Forest had a nice win against North Carolina State. Oklahoma ended up at 13 partly because of the wins that were ahead of them.
Oklahoma State’s defense, the committee thinks very highly of the way they’ve been playing defense, some of the best defense this year. They beat Baylor, and so that certainly resonates with the committee. And then as of late offensively, Oklahoma State has been playing much better the last several weeks.
On what the committee is most impressed about with Georgia
GARY BARTA: Well, one of the questions that the committee had several weeks ago was Stetson Bennett going to continue on as the quarterback. It looks like he’s secured that spot, at least just watching week to week. The offense is in the top 15 in scoring. James Cook had a big game this past week.
The defense, sort of what I said earlier about Ohio State having one of the best offenses, Georgia has the best defense in the country, but their offense continues to play efficiently and play much better with each passing week. It’s just a dominant team on both sides of the ball.
On how strong Alabama's position at No. 2 is
GARY BARTA: Well, this week the committee — every week we go from top to bottom, and we talk about every team. I can tell you that 2, 3 and 4 was an area where the conversation was a little bit longer. I mentioned earlier, we didn’t learn a lot about Alabama this week but continue to be impressed with the way they play on both sides of the ball, but there was good conversation about where Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State should be placed. Ultimately when the vote occurred, it ended up the way it is, 2, 3, 4, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State. But there was a lot of conversation with those three teams.
If Notre Dame is considered for being ranked ahead of Cincinnati despite the head-to-head result
GARY BARTA: The honest answer to that is no, there hasn’t. I’m just saying, in the areas in which we’re having these conversations, looking at Ohio State and Michigan, Cincinnati sandwiched in between those two right now, there has not yet been any conversation of having Notre Dame ahead of Cincinnati, but again, next week will be a new week and we’ll evaluate who each of them play and go from there.
On assessing Ohio State's defense
GARY BARTA: I would tell you that the committee has continued to be impressed with the way Ohio State’s defense has improved since the beginning of the season. I really highlight the offense just because they might be playing the best offense in the country. They’re not playing the best defense in the country, but their defense is playing impressively.
But in the end the committee still felt that Oregon should be third and Ohio State fourth.
On whether Ohio State's performance against Purdue changes the committee's view on the head-to-head with Oregon
GARY BARTA: Yeah, there was a lot of conversation this week, really including Alabama. The 2, 3, 4 positions, the committee had a lot of discussion about where Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State should all land. Alabama, the committee still considered the way they’ve been playing offensively, defensively, Mississippi, Mississippi State wins, and we didn’t learn a lot new about Alabama, but they stayed at No. 2.
Now directly to your question, Oregon continues to play really solid football. They had a strong win against Washington State. To your point, Ohio State rolled on Purdue. The offense just continues to be one of the best offenses in the country. So then you compare Ohio State has wins at Minnesota and then against Penn State and Purdue. Oregon has the win at Columbus, and that’s a big one. They also won at UCLA and beat Fresno State.
The long answer to your question is those two are compared this past week, and the committee just felt that they were close enough that that head-to-head still ruled the day, so Oregon stayed at 3 and Ohio State is at 4.
On the committee's view of Oklahoma State should it keep winning
GARY BARTA: Yeah, one of the things the committee works really hard at is we don’t talk at all about projections. I can’t answer that question. They’re at 9 this week. You can look ahead yourself and see who they play, but as a committee what we’ll do each week is just come back and compare Oklahoma State, who they beat or who they lost to and then compare it to the people around them.
I know that doesn’t answer your question, but that’s by design because the committee just doesn’t project ahead.