Arizona State

The logic behind the SEC clamoring for another team in the national championship game, even if it means a one-loss Auburn or Missouri gets to jump an undefeated Ohio State team, is also the same logic that can be used by Arizona State, playing in the very tough Pac-12 with nine conference games and not eight, to jump over both Tigers teams even though they have two losses.

It’s easy to see the reasoning behind those saying Ohio State, undefeated, don’t deserve to play in the national title. It’s not just the easy schedule, but it’s their non-dominance along the way. Their two toughest road games were against Michigan and Northwestern. Their toughest non-conference opponents was California, finishing the season at 1-11. Ohio State have two wins by one score, one game in which they had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win it and another in which they were tied entering the fourth quarter.

Compare that to Florida State, who won only one game by less than 20 points, and you get the picture in the difference between undefeated teams. But is the SEC that much better? Probably not. And Auburn and Missouri with their one loss haven’t had an impressive season at the level that should allow them to get in with one loss if there’s an undefeated team in front of them. Auburn lost to LSU in a game they were never really close in. Missouri lost to South Carolina in overtime, which does give them the benefit of the doubt, but they didn’t play a single team of the SEC West powerhouse programs.

TeamScoring marginYards-per-play marginAdjusted yards-per-play margin
Sagarin PredictorSRSF/+
Ohio State29.742.320.61985
Auburn26.051.110.181597
Missouri26.891.540.2111413

If pure stats is what you need to get going, this puts Ohio State well above the SEC teams clamoring to get in.

The other problem with Missouri and Auburn’s logic is the existence of Arizona State, a two-loss team (to Stanford and Notre Dame), finishing the season with a 7-game winning streak and are going to host the Pac-12 championship game against the Cardinal. If Ohio State lose and Arizona State win, one can say they’ve had the tougher road, with a much tougher non-conference schedule (Wisconsin and Notre Dame), while playing Stanford twice, than Auburn and Missouri.

Even if the dominoes fall their way, Arizona State won’t get in to the national title game, and so shouldn’t Auburn and Missouri if Ohio State remains undefeated after playing Michigan State.

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