Week 13 in college football was a bit chaotic, but what happens if championship week is just as chaotic? Are Georgia and Michigan football in regardless? What about TCU? If USC loses, does that open the door for Ohio State or Alabama? Could the rankings change for either the Buckeyes or Crimson Tide without them playing this week? How close or far are the top teams from all of the others?
These are some of the questions posed to College Football Playoff committee chair Boo Corrigan, who spoke to the media on a teleconference following the unveiling of the penultimate rankings of the season. Here is everything he had to say.
What was his view of Michigan-Ohio State?
The recency bias is something we do talk about on a regular basis to make sure as we’re going through this that we’re looking at everything and looking at the full body of work. It was talked about in the committee room that going into really early in the fourth quarter the game was still close.
That being said, you can’t completely dismiss the way the fourth quarter ended with Michigan kind of taking over the game there late.
There’s a lot of respect for Ohio State in the room and the wins they’ve had this year, so again, taking the full body of work, it was certainly something we looked at, but it wasn’t, it’s a blowout, let’s move on.
Why did Utah move up three spots but Washington one spot?
As we looked at it, Utah’s win over Southern Cal as Southern Cal continues to move up as well as the win over Oregon State, a couple of their losses to UCLA and Oregon. I think the other side of it is the Washington loss at Arizona State was surprising to everyone in the room. But when you’re looking at the entire body of work, you’ve got to take everything into account.
As we talked about it and talked over those Pac-12 teams in that area, it was a topic of conversation, and that Arizona State loss really stood out.
Why Georgia No. 1 and Michigan No. 2?
Well, again, a lot of conversation specifically about that, the Georgia-Michigan and Michigan’s big win on Saturday. Again, Georgia did nothing against Georgia Tech for people to look at that game in a way that it was a watershed moment, if you will, for Georgia. Georgia over the entire season, the win over Oregon, the win over Tennessee, the win over South Carolina and Mississippi State gives them four wins over teams ranked in the top 25, and Michigan, even with that win, has a win over Ohio State as well as a win over Michigan, two great wins, but the four wins versus the two wins, taking over the whole body of work, we ended up with Georgia No. 1 and Michigan No. 2.
Is TCU in regardless of outcome on Saturday?
As we looked at TCU, we have them as the No. 3 team in the country, 12-0, 6-0 against teams .500 or better, some real quality wins that they have, and they continue to win games. They continue to find ways to win games. Their defense has gotten stronger and stronger, and really where we are this week, where do we have them this week, and we have them clearly at No. 3 this week.
The Big Ten has more conference games than the SEC. Does that factor in for teams like Ohio State?
What we’re doing has nothing to do with conferences. We don’t look at that from that standpoint — it could come into play around strength of schedule, those types of things, but it’s not something we sit there and how many conference games teams are playing. We try to evaluate every team on an individual basis as we go through this, and as we looked at it, Ohio State and their two good wins over Penn State and over Notre Dame overshadowed Alabama and Tennessee from the standpoint of two close losses for Alabama, a couple good wins over Texas and Mississippi State, and then with regards to Tennessee, I think that loss against South Carolina really weighed with the committee.
More Utah and Washington placement
It’s part of what we talk about. Again, from a Washington standpoint, they’ve got a win over Oregon and a win over Oregon State. But when you take in the full body of work as we were looking at it, two really good teams, both of whom had really good wins, and you’re looking for a differentiator as we go through this, and as we did, that Arizona State game really stood out as kind of one that didn’t measure up, if you will, to the other games.
Why is Tennessee ranked behind Alabama despite beating Alabama?
Well, one, it was very much debated amongst the committee, and a lot of conversation around that. The value of head-to-head is certainly one of the criteria that we look at. We’re looking at a full body of work, and when you look at their two losses by Alabama, including one on a last-second field goal to Tennessee, and then you’re measuring – somewhere in there you’ve got to measure the loss that Tennessee had to South Carolina, and as we went through that, that was part of the determination as to why to have Alabama ahead of Tennessee.
Could that change in the final rankings?
We deal with where we are right now. There’s a number of championship games to be played, and we’ll deal with the championship games and everything from that point moving forward.
How much could a team be penalized for playing in an extra conference championship game?
As we look at that, we’re going to come back in here on Friday and get together and watch games on Friday and Saturday and go back into the room and make sure that we select the right four teams, and quite frankly the right 25 teams to be ranked, and certainly that’s going to be part of their body of work. That championship game will be part of their body of work. That will be part of the determination as we go through this whole process.
Difference between USC and Ohio State at 4 and 5?
Well, I mean, Ohio State has nice wins over Penn State and Notre Dame, and again, that Michigan game was a whole lot closer early in the fourth quarter than it was, but then you look at USC and their recent wins over UCLA and Notre Dame, they also have a win over Oregon State. Their one loss is, you probably remember this, a two-point conversion against Utah in an emotionally charged game.
As we looked at the full body of work of both teams, we came out with USC in the No. 4 spot and Ohio State in the No. 5 spot.
How close are Michigan and Georgia? And will the conference championship games affect the seeding outcome?
Well, the second part, that would have me projecting into what’s going to happen next week, and we’ll deal with that as we get together as a group next week. On the first part, these are all really good football teams that we’re talking about right now. To be in the top 25 at this time of year, much less to be in the top 2 this time of year, there’s a lot of discussion about everything about it.
You’ve got a guy, Blake Corum, who’s injured in the game and then Donovan Edwards comes in and has a great game. It’s all part of the total package of what it is and the job that coach Smart and coach Harbaugh have done this year is really great, as with all the coaches.
USC lost by one point, Ohio State by 22
No, I think you’ve got to take into account the way USC is playing right now, the wins over UCLA, the win over Notre Dame, the win over Oregon State earlier in the year, and you need to measure that against Penn State – I’m sorry, Ohio State and their win over Penn State and Notre Dame. Again, it’s a full body of work, but it was more a point of we’re looking at every aspect of both teams and trying to make the best determination.
How much did USC's win over Notre Dame sway the committee?
Well, I mean, it’s a top-25 win. As they go into it, it better adds to their body of work as a team and as a program and the job that they’ve done this year. Again, it’s a piece of it and everything that goes into it, but it gives them – coming off of UCLA, it gives them back-to-back big wins for USC.
The job that Caleb did in that game, Caleb Williams, he’s a player. I think all that together is why we ended up with USC at 4.
Was it an easy decision to put USC at No. 4?
There isn’t a whole lot easy about any of this that we’re doing. We’re going over this again and again and making sure that we’re spending time and getting everyone’s opinion of the 13 people on the committee and making sure that we’re all together making the right decisions.
Did he say Ohio State and Alabama would not change spots on ESPN?
No, I did not.
Thought he said that...
Thoughts on head-to-head matchups
You’re looking at a total body of work as we go into it, and specifically to the Alabama-Tennessee game, and you need to take everything into account, and it certainly is part of what we do. It’s one of the factors; it’s not the only factor we have. We’re trying to get the entire body of work, use Alabama-Tennessee – the outlier would be the Tennessee loss to South Carolina as opposed to two close losses by Alabama.
I think that was the determining factor there.
In our game, this is me as the AD, not as the chairman of the committee, because I’m not in the room when NC State is discussed. But as I went back into the room, the discussion was around us winning, NC State winning that game against Carolina, but NC State also has a loss, one additional loss, that one loss being to Boston College, and that was a determining factor to the committee.
He said on the show that nothing would change for those who aren't playing this weekend
I apologize if there’s any confusion on that. I apologize. No, that’s not necessarily the case. I apologize if there is confusion.
If there's chaos this weekend, could Ohio State, Alabama, and Tennessee move into the top 4?
I think that’s a segment of what we’re going to see this weekend is all the games, and we’re going to see how it all plays out and be able to make our decisions next week and get back on a phone call with y’all explaining them.
Does Hendon Hooker's injury hurt Tennessee?
Well, I’ll go backwards to last week in terms of South Carolina game. It was certainly something that we considered during the game, and if you remember correctly, I believe they were down 49-31 at the time when he went out. We do have more information on their game based on with Vanderbilt, and we go off of what we’ve seen so far.
Would it be different if Hooker was healthy?
Don’t know. Don’t know. That’s speculation on our side. Again, we’re taking the body of work that they have and the most recent game they had with Vanderbilt.
On Tennessee's win over Vanderbilt
It was a good win by a football team is what it was, as we looked at it, and certainly there’s respect for Tennessee in the room, which is why they ended up ranked where they were, at No. 7.
Did J.J. McCarthy's passing vs. Ohio State change the perception of Michigan football for the committee?
I think they continued to be who they are and find ways to win games, and coach Harbaugh has done a great job with that program, and they saw a different way to do it and did it in a different way this past week. Everyone was very impressed by Michigan’s performance on Saturday down at Ohio State, and we ended up with them at No. 2.