I decided to check out what the teams that made the playoffs the last 4 years had in common (other than the obvious) and did a little sifting through rating/rankings to see what came closest. Time and time again, the AP poll was the best predictor of how the CFP rankings would end up. The only thing the AP poll seems to have more influence on is the Coaches poll which is pretty obvious it’s mostly just coaches asking an assistant to read the AP poll, fudge a couple of teams up or down a notch and turn it in.
So here are some of the things that came out of it.
Every team was ranked in the AP Preseason poll.
The lowest AP Preseason ranking to make the CFP was OU at 19 in 2015.
12 of the 16 teams were already ranked top 7 in the AP Preseason poll.
14 of the 16 teams were ranked in the top 8 in the AP week 10 poll.
The same 14 teams ranked top 8 in the week 10 AP poll were ranked top 7 in the first CFP poll.
The lowest ranked playoff team in the week 10 AP polls was 14th.
7 G5 schools were ranked top 25 in the week 10 AP poll.
The highest week 10 AP week 10 rankings for G5 teams were UCF and Memphis at 15.
Memphis was ranked two spots higher in the first CFP, the other six schools were ranked lower.
Make your own conclusions. Here are a few of mine.
Although the AP has an obvious influence on the first CFP rankings, the CFP does show a bias against the G5 teams in the rankings. Even with that true, had they not have a bias, chances are they could still not make top 4. OU being the lowest ranked beat a #6, #18 and #11 back to back to back to make it from the 14th spot. Ohio State being the next lowest ranked team to make it at 13th beat #8, #25 and #13 to worm they way into the top 4. UCF beating a #20 team just doesn’t compare to the other two.
UCF’s best chance (if they have a chance) is to work their way quickly up the AP poll to be near top 10 by week 10, two of their late regular season opponents to be ranked when they play them and beating another ranked team in the championship game. I don’t believe UH has the same opportunity. We would probably need 20 point victories over Arizona and Tech to surge us up to top 15 and then the next three games would see us get leapfrogged no matter what we did against TxSo, Tulsa and ECU.