COLUMN: No ranking, no problem for Herd

Shannon Stowers, Assistant Sports Editor

When the initial College Football Playoff rankings were released Wednesday, the Thundering Herd was nowhere to be found, despite being ranked in the top 25 of other polls.

The CFP rankings are composed by a committee of former coaches, players and athletic directors trusted with picking the top 25 teams week-by-week based on numerous factors. According to the newly formed committee’s website, it factors in teams’ win-loss records, strength of schedule, head to head results and results against common opponents.

With an 8-0 record, the Marshall University football team was ranked in other major polls. The Herd came in at No. 23 in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, but not in the CFP rankings.

Apparently, the CFP committee weighs the strength of schedule heavily when deciding its rankings. According to the Jeff Sagarin Ratings, the Herd has the No. 150 strength of schedule out of 252 teams.

Forget about the nearly 30-point win margin the Herd has put up this season. Forget about the Herd doing what it’s supposed to and averaging 45.9 points per game against its competition, good enough for third best in the country. Forget about the Herd being punished for a soft schedule despite that it had a top 25 team [Louisville] scheduled before conference realignment took its toll.

Forget about all of that, because it obviously doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that the Herd now controls its own destiny after the Temple University Owls upset the East Carolina University Pirates Saturday. The Pirates were ranked No. 23 in the CFP rankings, highest of all the non-Power Five conference teams, which had them in position to get a bid to the highest bowl possible for non-Power Five teams.

Up until Saturday, the Herd was just behind the Pirates in most polls. Now, with that door open, it will look to slip into that top spot among non-P5 teams. The question is, will the Herd make its first appearance in the second CFP rankings that come out Tuesday?

The answer is, probably not, but as long as the Herd wins its remaining games, it should win its way into a major bowl. Of course, that depends on if the CFP committee ranks the Herd ahead of the other teams, like Colorado State University and ECU, but it would be hard to deny a 13-0 Conference USA champion Marshall team from playing in a major bowl.

The Herd will hit the home stretch of its regular season Saturday when it travels to Hattiesburg to take on the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at 7 p.m. The CFP rankings will be revealed on ESPN Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Shannon Stowers can be contacted at [email protected].