Florida football suffered a significant upset loss on Saturday, falling to a very down LSU team 37-34. As a result, with the release of the new College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, the Gators came in all the way down at… seventh?
Most expected Dan Mullen’s team to tumble farther than that. The Gators were sixth last week, meaning they only fell one spot. The team ranks ahead of Cincinnati, an undefeated club that has done everything asked of it this year, as well as fellow unbeatens like USC and Coastal Carolina.
The loss did not cost the Gators the berth in the SEC Championship Game, thanks to their win over Georgia, another two-loss team. That means Florida will face Alabama for the conference title, and very possibly, a berth in the College Football Playoff, as crazy as that sounds. Paul Finebaum worked through the situation if Florida would jump Texas A&M, a team that beat them head to head that sits at No. 5, if they get that big win over ‘Bama.
“I don’t think they will because they still have Texas A&M to deal with,” he said on Get Up this morning. “And why is that important? Texas A&M beat Florida head to head…Florida has an issue with A&M. The difference would be, they would have a conference championship and beat the No. 1 team in the country, the same team that beat Texas A&M by 28 points. But it’s pretty obvious, this committee follows the rule of the eye test. They like what they see with Florida. They don’t pay much attention to metrics, despite what the committee chair tells us every Tuesday night.”
Head to head can’t mean everything, and it gets sticky when you start to use the transitive property for one-off college football games, but Texas A&M’s win over Florida football should matter, and Florida’s loss to LSU, which is basically being cast aside here, should also matter.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, the College Football Playoff selection committee chair, had this to say about the ranking on Tuesday night.
“The committee this last two days spent a great deal of time talking about the grouping of Iowa State, Florida, Georgia and Cincinnati, and inside of that you had Iowa State who was idle, Cincinnati that was idle, so a lot of conversation about Florida and Georgia, and I can tell you it was back and forth, a tough loss for Florida. We did note that Kyle Pitts was out and the committee recognizes when a player is unavailable.
“So it was back and forth. Georgia on the other hand, ever since they added J.T. Daniels at quarterback, their offense has taken off. Watched them, they’re averaging over 40 points a game now in the last three games since Daniels came in, but Florida beat Georgia head-to-head. So when it came down to it, you had Georgia moving up, Florida moving down, and they came in at 7 and 8 probably because of that combination, but with Florida having the head-to-head.”
Every week it does look like the committee makes the rankings it wants to make and then develops the argument for it after the fact. That has never seemed more true than this week with this Florida debacle.