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Opinion

Ludwig: My Take on the Final Top 25 of the 2022 Season

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Let me go ahead and — unnecessarily — offer my input on this ranking stuff.

We’re going to act like my voting process here factors into the final AP Poll, just for fun. Or derision, if you don’t like it. And, unlike a lot of voters this time around, head-to-head results will be taken into account here.

Even if only because it blows my mind that head-to-head matchups were clearly not valued when it came to the final AP Poll of the season.

These rankings aren’t cut and dry, obviously. But I do like the ‘most deserving vs. the best’ argument. It’s easy enough to see. Is Alabama better than 99% of college football teams? Alabama can roll out a four-deep of four- and five-stars.

Alabama handled Big 12 champ Kansas State with ease in a New Year’s Six bowl game that I honestly can’t remember off the top of my head. But Bama also lost two games.

Now there’s no shame in losing to Tennessee and LSU — on the road, no less — in any individual season. But was it an Alabama team deserving of making the playoffs? No.

You know who earned a spot in the playoff, and then won a playoff game? TCU.

When factoring in things like strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, on-field performance, analytics and the good old-fashioned eye test, head-to-head results should matter. A lot, right? This isn’t Michigan losing to Illinois in September. TCU beat Michigan in the national semifinal.

If a win in the national semifinal isn’t more deserving, what are we doing here?

It should be abundantly clear that I value the head-to-head matchup when evaluating teams with similar resumes. That’s… kinda the whole point here, right? Michigan beating Ohio State, and then losing to TCU should mean something… right?

Right. Okay. So, that leads right into our College Football Playoff Conundrum. Georgia and TCU met in the national championship because each team won their respective playoff game. Easy enough, right? Not so much.

Georgia unmercifully curb-stomping TCU doesn’t change the fact that Georgia beat Ohio State and TCU beat Michigan. Georgia is really, really good.

If Ohio State has a gripe with the end result here, then there’s an easy solution. Don’t lose to Michigan by three scores in the regular season. And — I’m sorry, Noah Ruggles — don’t miss a potential game-winning field goal against Georgia in the semifinal.

I’ll relate it to another scenario.

When Louisville lost to Clemson in 2016, despite the 42-36 regular season loss, I was a firm believer that Lamar Jackson’s Cardinals were still a better team. But a loss is a loss. We play the games for a reason, and Clemson won the game.

If the two teams had played again, would Louisville beat Clemson? I thought it was likely. But again, what is the point of playing the games if they aren’t taken into account? They didn’t meet again, but Clemson didn’t lose another game the rest of the way — until the national championship, of course.

There’s a similar thought process here. Is Michigan or Ohio State more talented than TCU? Probably. But if rankings are being determined based on ‘talent’ alone, the schools with four- and five-star commits wouldn’t even need to play their games. Again, if OSU has a problem with that, there were a couple of chances to correct that.

The same can be said for a team like Alabama. Would Alabama beat TCU? Maybe. But we’re not operating on maybes. We’re operating on what happened. Alabama lost two games and missed the playoff. Playing the games matters.

Yes, these games matter. We can’t just go off the most “talented” teams coasting into a contending position. When it comes down to it, if a team feels slighted, there’s a solution. Don’t lose. Winning heals all. And it also leads to playoff appearances.

TCU beat Michigan for a chance to play Georgia. Ohio State lost back-to-back games to Michigan and Ohio State.

Georgia was the only unbeaten team in college football this season, for good reason.

So, without further ado:

1. Georgia

Easily the best team in college football.

2. TCU

TCU earned its place against Georgia, but the Bulldogs were ultimately the best team in college football.

3. Michigan

Michigan will regret its performance against TCU, but this is where it should be.

4. Ohio State

Tough decision. Did OSU play Georgia closer than anyone all season? Yes. Did it also lose a couple of untimely games? Yes.

Side note, you know who played Georgia kinda closely? Kent State.

5. Tennessee

6. Alabama

7. Penn State

8. Washington

9. Tulane

10. Clemson

11. Utah

12. Florida State

13. LSU

14. USC

15. Kansas State

16. Oregon State

17. Oregon

18. Notre Dame

19. Mississippi State

20. Pitt

21. UCLA

22. Troy

23. South Carolina

24. Fresno State

25. Air Force 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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kevin
kevin
17 days ago

Looks good to me!

T Vax
T Vax
17 days ago

you’re helping eliminate stupid with this, thanks(even though B1G stupid will just dig deeper and hold on tighter)

keep it up, there’s a ton out there 🙂

Tom D
Tom D
17 days ago

Yes,

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