On the Beat: Every Georgia point, every statistic matters to CFB Playoff Committee
ATHENS — Georgia might not want to take its foot off the gas too quickly against UMass on Saturday.
Style points count with the College Football Playoff Committee, regardless of who the opponent is or how the schedule strength shakes out.
Georgia is a 43 1/2-point favorite over the Minutemen, and winning by anything less could be viewed as a negative by the people who gather and compare teams’ resumes based on statistics, among other things.
CFB Playoff Committee chairman Rob Mullens made that clear on Tuesday night when asked to expound on the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (9-1) and No. 4-ranked Michigan (9-1).
What does the committee see in Georgia?
“Obviously their last three wins were extremely impressive, and the bounce-back from the loss at LSU,” Mullens said. “You look at those, coupled with their only loss to a ranked LSU team, we see a very competitive team, strong defense. Offense continues to make strides. That’s why the committee has them fifth.”
Sounds good enough.
But when asked point blank by DawgNation on the teleconference why the committee has the Wolverines ranked ahead of Georgia, statistics were referenced.
“They’ve won nine games in a row, only loss is to the No. 3 ranked team on the board in the first game of the year (Notre Dame), and again, they’ve got wins over Northwestern at Northwestern, at Michigan State, and a dominant win over Penn State,” Mullens said. “(Michigan has) the No. 1 defense in the country. Strong resume.”
To be clear, Michigan’s best wins are over Northwestern (6-4 and No. 22 in CFB rankings), Michigan State (6-4, not ranked) and Penn State (7-3, No. 14).
Georgia’s best wins are over Florida (7-3, No. 13), Kentucky (7-3, No. 17) and Auburn (6-4, not ranked).
As for the No. 1-ranked defense in the country — against who?
According to the Sagarin computer rankings, Michigan’s strength of schedule ranks 36th and Georgia’s ranks 21st.
But a closer look at how the “No. 1 defense in the country” has fared includes allowing 20 points to SMU (81st in the nation in total offense), and a narrow 20-17 win over Northwestern (109 total offense, 103 scoring offense).
Maryland, 98th in total offense and 69th in scoring, managed three touchdowns against Michigan.
Fact is, Michigan has allowed 20 points or more three times, Georgia just two. Both lost road games to top 10 teams.
The Wolverines lost to Notre Dame 24-17 in their season opener, while the Bulldogs lost at LSU 36-16 a month ago.
There are some who will suggest that if Georgia takes care of business and beats UMass, Georgia Tech and then Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, then things will take care of themselves.
But will they?
What will the committee say about the Crimson Tide if the Bulldogs’ win is very close, or in overtime?
Is it possible for one-loss No. 6-ranked Oklahoma to close the season strong enough to overtake Georgia in the standings?
What if the Sooners’ offensive numbers impress this committee like Michigan’s defensive numbers?
The point is, every point obviously counts to this committee if Michigan’s No. 1 (total defense) defensive ranking.
Here’s a look at how ESPN’s “Playoff Predictor” breaks down the top 10 teams chances to make and win the College Football Playoffs heading into the weekend of games:
1. Alabama 85.9 percent chance to make playoff, 36.7 chance to win it all
2. Clemson, 95.3 percent chance to make playoff, 35.8 chance to win it all
3. Notre Dame 77.5 percent chance to make playoff, 6.4 chance to win it all
4. Michigan 44.7 percent chance to make playoff, 7.6 chance to win it all
5. Georgia 35.9 percent chance to make playoff, 7.4 chance to win it all
6. Oklahoma 25.9 percent chance to make playoff, 3.0 chance to win it all
7. LSU 1.1 percent chance to make playoff, 0.1 chance to win it all
8. Washington State 1.9 percent chance to make playoff, 0.1 chance to win it all
9. West Virginia 11 percent chance to make playoff, 0.8 chance to win it all
10. Ohio State 21.8 percent chance to make playoff, 2.1 chance to win it all