BOZICH | Jackson tweets displeasure at Louisville ranking, but strength of schedule the issue
Three teams ranked ahead of Louisville lost last weekend but the Cardinals passed only one (Washington) in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The issue? Strength of schedule.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Don’t howl at the College Football Playoff committee if you disagree with the Number 5 ranking they assigned the University of Louisville football team Tuesday night.
Don’t tweet your displeasure the way quarterback Lamar Jackson did shortly after 9:30 p.m.
Blame Jimbo Fisher and Florida State.
Blame David Cutcliffe and Duke.
Blame Dave Doeren and North Carolina State.
Blame the ACC office for not matching U of L against better teams than Duke and Virginia from the Atlantic Division.
Next week you might be able to add Tom Herman and Houston to the list of issues.
There’s plenty of debate about whether Bobby Petrino’s 9-1 U of L team should be ranked among the four teams considered playoff worthy (with 3 weekends to go, I must remind you).
There is no debate about why the Cardinals are tucked behind Ohio State (No. 2), Michigan (No. 3) and Clemson (No. 4), the three one-loss teams between top-ranked Alabama and Louisville.
It’s strength of schedule.
The teams Louisville has played this season simply don’t provide the Cardinals with enough reflected glory.
Ohio State has two wins against teams ranked in the Top 10 by the committee. That would be Wisconsin and Oklahoma.
Michigan has three of those victories — Wisconsin, Penn State and Colorado.
Clemson has three wins against Top 17 teams — Louisville (head-to-head really matters here), Auburn (15) and Florida State (17).
Louisville has one. It was that spectacular 63-20 victory against Florida State in mid-September that made local football fans believe that anything was possible for Jackson, Brandon Radcliff, Keith Kelsey, Jaire Alexander and the rest of the Cardinals.
But it was only one win.
Then, Florida State backed that up with losses to North Carolina and Clemson and tumbled out of the national conversation. Louisville really didn't need that.
Louisville has added one victory against a team with a winning record — Wake Forest, the team the Cardinals pounded in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
The voters in the Associated Press Top 25 are not bothered by that. They ranked the Cardinals third this week.
The coaches who vote in the USA Today Top 25 are not bothered by that. They also ranked the Cardinals third this week.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit is not bothered by that. He has touted the Cardinals all season. Herbstreit did it again Tuesday night, sharing his opinion that he believes that Cardinals are one of three teams that could compete with Alabama.
Herbstreit argued that Lamar Jackson gives the Cardinals an X-factor other contenders lack.
Should it matter? Reasonable people can debate that.
Does the eye test matter? Not in this playoff scenario.
The view of the committee is similar to the results of the computer power formulas. I posted a story earlier Tuesday predicting how the teams would be ranked by using an average of the two human polls and six computer formulas that were used in the retired Bowl Championship Series.
My system slotted the top eight teams precisely the way the committee ranked them.
What can the Cardinals do?
Hope for help similar to the help Louisville received last weekend when Michigan lost to Iowa, Clemson lost to Pittsburgh and Washington stumbled against Southern California.
Alabama is the only sure thing. Clemson is close to a sure thing — unless the Tigers do something crazy and lose to Wake Forest, South Carolina and either Virginia Tech or North Carolina in the ACC title game.
Possible? Sure. Likely? Don’t bet your Dabo Swinney trading cards on it.
That’s two slots locked down.
There are a string of other crazy scenarios with the four Big Ten teams in the top 8. It’s too soon to debate all of them. Keep an eye on Penn State and Wisconsin closing like American Pharoah on the outside -- and I know both of those teams have lost twice. Prepare for chants of Big Ten bias.
Don’t dismiss Washington, if the Huskies finish with victories against Washington State (No. 22) and either Colorado (No. 10), Utah (No. 12) or USC (No. 13) in the Pac-12 title game.
What can Louisville do?
Beat Houston by at least two touchdowns Thursday night on the road with a nationally televised audience watching. Play like the No. 5 ranking is the greatest insult they’ve heard all season.
Beat Kentucky by 29 or more. Why 29? Alabama beat Kentucky by 28.
Will that change anything? There are no guarantees. But at this point, it beats howling at the committee or tweeting your displeasure.
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