2024: Do A Plethora of Preseason Polls Properly Predict the Playoff?

Jon Joseph Editorials

(To the tune of Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett…)

“I don’t know the reason, polls come out in preseason,

When nothing is sure with a playoff this new.

The Committee decides, to keep seven at-large alive

How? Well, we fans aren’t given a clue.

Wasting away again in the off-season,

A football fan lookin’ for somethin’ to do.

Some people claim Puddles has made me insane,

But I know, it’s my own damn fault.”

Thank you, Jimmy! And wherever you may be sipping Margaritas, I hope that it’s all good.


The College Football (CFB) Playoff expanding from 4-teams to 12-teams in 2024 will prevent another 2023 Seminoles Massacre from happening again but will not be a panacea for Stewart Mandel’s ‘Bowls, Polls and Tattered Souls’ angst. The Playoff format guarantees that Sunday December 8th, 2024 instead of the day prior, will be a Day of Infamy for fans of quality college football teams that are left out of the Playoff.

Mr. FishDuck was engaged in his study of Daily NFL Lineups and the odds with the NFL, but took some time to discuss some of these crucial Playoff issues with me that concern Our Beloved Ducks.

The Power-4 champions being in the field is in theory fine. However, guaranteeing a top four seeding for the ACC, B1G, B12, and SEC conference champions accompanied by a first-round bye, will almost certainly result in the ACC and B12 champions being seeded higher than a number of B1G and SEC teams higher-ranked by the Playoff Committee. And then there is the G5 representative that will probably be seeded 12th.

Playoff worthy teams from the B1G and the SEC will be knocked out by lesser teams. And let’s not forget our Notre Dame friends with an easy peasy 12-game schedule in 2024. With the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Peach, Rose, and Sugar Bowls serving as 2024-25 Playoff game sites, how fired up will a team that finished 10-2 in the B1G and SEC and left out of Playoff be to play a bowl game in Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, or Shreveport, Louisiana.

2023 Playoff Discussion. (Screenshot from ESPN Video)

Another concern with moving from a 4-team to a 12-team field, how will the Playoff Committee parse a Playoff contending team’s strength-of-schedule (SOS)? In the past, the only thing other than your QB getting hurt late in the season that mattered to the Committee was a team’s record. The quality of the competition a team played against was irrelevant.

Unlike the Basketball Tournament Committee, teams are not ipso facto, rewarded more for a quality win than they are for defeating an FCS team.. SOS is defined ad hoc by every member of the Committee. No RPI is revealed by the Football Committee.

College Football News ranked all P4 and G5 teams (and the Pac-2) in its 2024 preseason rankings, 134 teams, and also ranked all 134 teams by SOS. Ohio State is ranked No. 1. Ohio State’s SOS is ranked 57. Oregon is ranked No. 4 Oregon’s SOS is ranked No. 11. Georgia is ranked No. 2. Georgia’s SOS is ranked 21. Missouri is ranked 17. Missouri’s SOS is ranked 66?

If this was a golf game, using handicaps, Georgia and Oregon would both be receiving strokes. If a horse race, Ohio State and Missouri ‘s jockeys would be carrying extra weight. All of the Power 4 conferences have 16 or more teams. There will be a significant difference in intra-confer SOS every season. In 2024, Oregon plays Michigan and Ohio State. In 2025 Oregon plays neither team. Will disparity in schedule strength matter to the Playoff Committee?

With these concerns in mind, what are the preseason polls predicting in regards to Playoff participants? I have perused twenty plus 2024 preseason top 25 polls. I have extrapolated these polls to determine what Playoff field each poll would produce, including how a Playoff field would be seeded. (I know, get a life, right?)

Oregon lost to the No. 1 team before, but that shouldn’t keep them from playoffs. (Photo by Tom Corno)

No preseason Playoff field has less than four SEC teams (SP+), or more than 6 SEC teams (USA Today.) The majority have five SEC teams making the Playoff, the conference champion, Georgia in all cases and four of the seven at-large teams. No Playoff field has fewer than two B1G teams in the field (USA Today.), FanDuel has three B1G teams in the field, the majority including Joel Klatt and SP+, has Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in the field.

The money where your poll is, FanDuel Playoff seeding: based on odds to win the 2024-25 Playoff.

Sugar Bowl – 1. Georgia +325 vs. 9. Ole Miss +1600 at 8. LSU +1600. The venue for the Rebels vs Tigers game with both at +1600 is a tossup.

Fiesta Bowl – 4. Utah +6600 vs. 12. Boise State +40,000 at 5. Texas +700. Boise State’s odds are outside the top 50. The number 3-seed, in this case Texas, will most likely have a 1st-round game leg up playing the G5 representative.

Rose Bowl – 2. Ohio State +375 vs. 10. Michigan +2000 at 7. Alabama +1400

Peach Bowl – 3. Florida State +2500 vs. 11. Notre Dame +2500 at OREGON + 1000. The 6th seed means playing Notre Dame. The 5th seed means Texas has a walkover home game vs the G5 representative.. Oregon at +1000 plays Notre Dame while FSU +2500 and Utah +6600 have a 1st round bye, right?

The Ducks battled tough for the first College Football Playoff against FSU and OSU. (Screenshot from ESPN Video)

NOTE: In the above scenario as is the case in the majority of the Playoff scenarios, SEC teams would host three of the four first round games. Add these three to the six bowl game sites and the Championship game being played in Atlanta, and eight of the eleven Playoff games would be played in Dixie.

If Oregon was to defeat The Domers and advance, the Ducks 2nd round game would be played in Atlanta vs. Florida State. Defeat FSU and the 3rd round game would be played in Miami or in Dallas. Win that game and Puddles would fly back to Atlanta for the championship game.

Come 2026, B1G Commissioner Tony Petitti had best raise a ruckus over the Playoff deck being tilted to the South. Before 2026, a change to the Playoff format requires a unanimous vote of the P4 and G5 teams. Come 2026, the majority rules. However, will the B1G be able to put together a majority before the current Playoff media deal expires in 2031-32?

Whole lot of Playoff pondering ahead.

Jon Joseph
Aiken, South Carolina
Photo from CFB Playoff Twitter

New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the FishDuck.com publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.

In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

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