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Memphis Vs. The Playoff Selection Process

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Entering the 2015 season there was little talk of the Memphis Tigers making a serious playoff run. However, at 8-0 with several key wins to start the season, the Tigers appear poised to make noise in the playoff selection.

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Tonight the College Football Selection Committee will show off their first rough draft of their playoff rankings.  The Memphis Tigers will be listed among a handful of teams highlighted by the selection committee.  But how is this list determined and, more importantly, what has Memphis accomplished to make their way in to the discussion?

The Playoff Committee website clearly states the criteria as follows:

  • Conference Championships Won
  • Strength of Schedule
  • Head to Head Results
  • Comparison of Results Against Common Opponents
  • Other Factors

So where do the Tigers stack up against their competition?

Conference Championships Won:

Obviously this box is yet to be checked for the Tigers.  However, provided the Tigers can sneak through the next 4 weeks (Navy, @ Houston, @ Temple, SMU) unblemished then they will have captured an undefeated season.  The AAC Championship Game would likely feature the Tigers playing host to Temple.  While it is difficult to beat a team twice in one season I tend to think that if the Tigers can beat the Owls on the road then surely they can take care of business at home.

Strength of Schedule:

Currently the Sagarin ratings place the Tigers with the 84th ranked SOS.  Sure, the ranking isn't exactly an amazing number.  However, some teams that are currently strongly considered playoff contenders have similar or worse SOS.  Baylor, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Oklahoma State all have SOS ranked around 60th or higher.  Considering Memphis still has Navy, Houston, and Temple (#47, #40, and #25 in Sagarin's ratings) the Tigers should move up in SOS.

Head to Head Results:

The Tigers have no real leg to stand on here.  The only real opponents they'll play that we should see in tonight's selection show will be Ole Miss, Houston, and maybe Temple.  Assuming the Tigers run the table, this category is moot outside of a possible Ole Miss match-up in which the Tigers dominated.

Comparison of Results Against Common Opponents:

To date the Tigers only have a handful of common opponents with teams garnering serious playoff discussion.  I'll list the results below:

  • Memphis vs. Kansas 55-23, Baylor vs. Kansas 66-7, Oklahoma St vs Kansas 58-10, Oklahoma vs. Kansas 62-7.
  • Memphis vs. Tulsa 66-42, Oklahoma vs. Tulsa 52-38
  • Memphis vs. Ole Miss 37-24, Alabama vs. Ole Miss 37-43

Other Factors:

This category is somewhat vague.  The Committee states that other factors is "other relevant factors that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance."  For instance, if Paxton Lynch were to become injured this would give the Committee an easy out to exclude Memphis.  Then again, in the world of college athletics, other factors could (and likely will/does) boil down to name on the front of the jersey.

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To date Memphis has built a decent resume.  That, if given a blind resume test, would be picked over the likes of teams such as Baylor or (possibly) Ohio State.  If Memphis can win out then the College Football Playoffs, still in its infancy, could possibly have a problem. That problem would be figuring out rationales to exclude a deserving G5 team.