The case for and against Georgia as the best one-loss team as College Football Playoff rankings debut
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The case for and against Georgia as the top one-loss team as College Football Playoff rankings debut
The first College Football Playoff rankings debut on Tuesday and will drop shortly after 9 p.m. The Bulldogs don’t figure to be one of the first four teams called, as Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and Penn State are all unbeaten. There are two other Power Five unbeatens in Minnesota and Baylor.
But there’s a second cluster of one-loss teams that will make up much of the top-10. Oklahoma, Georgia, Utah and Oregon all have cases to be the nation’s top-ranked one-loss team. And seeing as how Alabama and LSU play each other this week — as do Penn State and Minnesota — there’s a real chance the top-ranked one-loss debate becomes even more contentious and important going forward.
So before the first rankings come out, let’s see how Georgia’s resume stacks up to those other Power Five teams with just one defeat:
Argument for Georgia: The Bulldogs have the best wins.
Georgia has two wins over teams ranked in the top-15 of the AP Poll in Notre Dame and Florida. Both those teams have rather easy schedules the rest of the regular season, meaning they’re only going to help bolster Georgia’s case for a College Football Playoff berth.
The other teams meanwhile have a combined zero wins over teams currently ranked in the top-25 of the AP Poll. Oklahoma’s best win is a neutral-site victory over Texas. As for Oregon and Utah, they both have a road win over a 5-4 Washington team.
Looking ahead, Oklahoma does have a chance to play unbeaten No. 11 Baylor twice. Oregon and Utah meanwhile seem destined to play each other in the PAC-12 championship game. If those two teams enter the game with one-loss, that could very well be a play-in game for the College Football Playoff.
Georgia meanwhile still has games with No. 12 Auburn, Texas A&M and potentially either Alabama or LSU in the SEC championship game. Safe to say Georgia is going to have a chance to continue to add strong wins to its already impressive resume.
Argument against Georgia: The Bulldogs have the worst loss. By far.
Georgia’s loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12 looked bad at the time and looks even worse now after the Gamecocks lost to Florida and Tennessee. The Gamecocks are currently 4-5 and are going to have beat two of Appalachian State, Texas A&M and Clemson just to make a bowl game.
Oregon’s defeat came in the final minute against No. 12 Auburn (7-2) in a game that was played in Dallas. Utah lost on the road to USC (5-4) on a Friday night. Oklahoma lost on the road to a Kansas State team that is now ranked No. 22 in the country.
You can pick knits with all those losses — Georgia could get a win over Auburn on Nov. 16, Oregon just hammered USC on the road and Oklahoma gave up 48 points in its loss to Kansas State —but none of those are as bad as losing to a team that probably isn’t going to a bowl game at home. Ohio State got left out of the College Football Playoff last year for this very reason when it got blown out at Purdue.
Argument for Georgia: It is a more complete team than its counterparts
For as bad as Georgia’s offense may have been during the South Carolina and Kentucky games, Georgia’s offensive unit still ranks No. 13 in offensive SP+ rankings. The defense, which has been excellent this season, sits at No. 4, the highest amount the other four one-loss contenders.
*Per SP+ founder Bill Connelly SP+ is a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency.
Georgia is the only team of those four to be ranked in the top-15 in both offensive and defensive SP+ rankings. Oklahoma has the No. 1 offense but the No. 30 defense. Utah has the No. 17 offense and the No. 12 defense. Oregon is No. 20 in offense and No. 19 in defense. And Georgia is the only team to have special teams ranking in the top-20, as it sits at No. 3 in that category.
Of course, that balance didn’t matter all that much a season ago. The College Football Playoff committee was willing to overlook Oklahoma’s horrendous defense because it had the nation’s best offense. That is the case once again in 2019, though Oklahoma does have a better defense in 2019. Oklahoma is actually ranked No. 4 in the SP + rankings, with Georgia coming in at No. 6.
Argument against Georgia: The Bulldogs future schedule will give it room to move up
Again, Georgia’s loss to South Carolina is horrendous. We can’t stress this enough. And while Georgia has wins over Florida and Notre Dame, that might not be enough to overlook that loss, for now. The committee knows Georgia’s schedule ahead will give it a chance to prove the Bulldogs are more like the team we saw on Saturday than we did against South Carolina.
So because of that, the committee could put a team like Oklahoma or Oregon ahead of Georgia for now, knowing there is a real chance Georgia’s resume becomes less complicated in the future because it either continues to win or it losses again.
Our official prediction for Tuesday night’s rankings:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
We think the committee will reward Oregon for having the best loss, while also not wanting to give off too strong of an SEC bias.
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Dawgs on Twitter
GEORGIA 24, FLORIDA 17
* Minimal big plays, both teams <30 pts, play efficient O late … this was Kirby Smart's dream game
* I thought UGA's PD success rate would be higher than this, but Fromm was strangely bad on 2nd down. 7-for-10 for 91 on 3rd-and-6+
* Damn, Lawrence Cager pic.twitter.com/Jx8y4spopo
— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) November 4, 2019
It just means more. pic.twitter.com/wE8J8AsZk7
— JakefromStateFromm (@FrommJake) November 5, 2019
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) November 5, 2019
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) November 4, 2019
Good Dawg of the Day
Kevin Harlan's Westwood One radio call of the cat on the field is, as you might expect, an all-time great call. How much of a pro is Harlan? He worked a sponsor read into it. pic.twitter.com/3x0MVNEHNY
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) November 5, 2019