The CFP Committee put out their initial rankings for the 2023 season, and to the surprise of nobody, Florida football was not ranked. Sitting at 5-3, no team made the top 25 with three losses. If the Gators can pull an upset or two to close out the season, maybe Florida can get ranked for 2023, but that would all be semantics.
But with expanded playoffs coming in 2024, how does the schedule Florida has for next season gel with the logic the CFP Committee showed with their initial rankings, and will the Gators’ schedule be helpful or harmful if Billy Napier and crew do take a step forward next season?
Florida Football: They ain’t played nobody Pawl
One thing that has been consistent with the CFP Committee over the years is that they tend to value quality wins. So, the fact that Ohio State is ranked number one shouldn’t be a great shock based on how the committee has operated historically. The Buckeyes have two top-15 wins, while Georgia and Michigan have none.
Florida’s 2024 schedule is somehow even more loaded than its 2023 schedule and will provide plenty of chances to pick up big-time wins to impress the committee. With expanded playoffs coming next season, one could craft a narrative that the Gators could sneak into the playoffs next season even if it went 9-3 just because of the wins it would have to pick up along the way to get there.
The problem, though, is that the committee doesn’t always keep that quality win logic consistent. Because if the justification for putting Ohio State at number one is that they have wins over Penn State and Notre Dame, FSU and Washington could make claims that they, too, should be ahead of Michigan and Georgia.
And it’s Georgia and Michigan’s ranking that reveals another truth about this committee: losses are punished far more than wins are rewarded.
It is not an accident that all eight one-loss Power Five teams were ranked ahead of every two-loss Power Five team.
Penn State played Ohio State close, but its only other somewhat relevant win was over Iowa. Missouri, for as spunky as it’s been, only has one ranked win over Kansas State and lost to LSU. Are we saying if LSU had opened versus a cupcake instead of FSU, LSU would then be considered better than Missouri?
If Florida had played a cupcake to open its season rather than on the road at Utah, the Gators would be sitting at 6-2 with a win over Tennessee and probably would be in the top 25, and it highlights the problem for the Gators moving into the expanded playoff era.
In terms of a week-to-week entertainment product, the schedule Florida has is far more interesting than the tackling dummies Michigan plays every week. But if playing a harder schedule makes one go 8-4 rather than 10-2, the committee hasn’t shown a willingness to reward teams for doing that.
Florida football should have a squad in the next couple of years that is knocking on the door of a playoff spot. If not, there will be deeper issues for Napier. But as they are knocking on that door, it is important to keep the CFP Committee’s mindset in mind as the Gators continue to schedule for the future.