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How MSU ended up not moving in the CFP rankings




Want to know how wild and consequential last weekend was? Nos. 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 are all different in this week's brand new College Football Playoff rankings. The one team that stuck to what they are in all that madness? Mississippi State at No. 16. 


This was a big week for resumes taking on big swings, let's take a look at how MSU's stacks up and why it ended it where it did. 


WHY MSU'S BEHIND No. 13 OKLAHOMA STATE: This resume is more similar to MSU's than you might think: multiple losses, but came to No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 12 TCU (even if both were at home, which they were, still defensible) with quality wins over West Virginia and Iowa State -- even if both teams are unranked, they're still better than beating, say, Missouri and Tennessee in the SEC East. 


The big difference here is that the Cowboys only have two losses and proved to be competitive in both of those losses, but 13 and 10 points. MSU was not competitive in two of its three losses. Plus, the committee values wins much more than losses and MSU's only wins of true quality are LSU and Texas A&M, which I'm guessing don't play to the committee like Iowa State and West Virginia do. 


WHY MSU'S BEHIND No. 14 WASHINGTON STATE: This one is pretty simple: Washington State beat No. 25 Boise State, No. 22 Stanford and No. 11 USC. 


WHY MSU'S BEHIND No. 15 UCF: This one's tough. UCF has the win over No. 21 Memphis; MSU has the win over No. 20 LSU. I think the argument can be made that UCF has a slight edge in those second-tier wins over decent but unranked teams -- UCF over SMU and Navy while MSU rests on wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M. If MSU had turned any one of its three losses into a win it would certainly be over UCF -- and probably over one or two more, in that case. 


WHY MSU'S AHEAD OF No. 17 MICHIGAN STATE: Honestly, this one is just plain weird. You look at Michigan State's schedule and you see some quality wins over teams such as Michigan, Iowa State and Penn State, but then you look at the rankings and see only one of those teams is ranked -- Penn State at No. 10. Michigan State is one of those teams that's very difficult to judge at the moment, so you wonder what it was that put MSU ahead of the Spartans: not because you think it's wrong, just because you're genuinely curious. (Unless this was done strictly by quality of loss, which MSU has a clear advantage in but the committee rarely behaves this way.) 


WHY MSU'S AHEAD OF No. 18 WASHINGTON: This reeks entirely of strength of schedule to me. I would argue that Washington has played one good team this year. Here's the schedule: Rutgers, Montana, Fresno State, Colorado, Oregon State, Cal, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon and finally, the good team, Stanford -- and Washington lost to the Cardinal. (There is a case to be made for Arizona State, but the Sun Devils are so up and down it's hard to make a stand for them.) I think this is giving MSU credit for taking on Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU and coming out of it with a comparable record to Washington's.



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