Computer rankings can be tricky and, in some respects, that was one of the reasons that many had less than stellar thoughts about the BCS. After all, computers are largely basing their evaluations on pure data at the expense of win-loss results and, while that may help to produce a more “true” result that can be helpful in things like Las Vegas handicapping, they don’t always accurately measure performance on the field in the way that many pundits would.
One such example in 2017 is that Jeff Sagarin of USA Today has a stunning team in his No. 2 overall perch this week. Fresh off back to back losses, the Penn State Nittany Lions trail only Alabama in the poll and, well, that is a jarring notion.
In some ways, this makes sense if you want it to. James Franklin’s just lost to two quality opponents by a total of four points and neither game took place in Beaver Stadium. With that said, the Nittany Lions aren’t going to be coming close to topping any non-computer ranking this week and it seems absolutely outrageous to a more traditional fan to think that Penn State is “better” than teams like Georgia, Notre Dame or Clemson.
It isn’t entirely fair to pick on specific computer rankings for weird results (ESPN FPI and S&P+ famously have Ohio State at No. 2 this week) but sometimes it’s good for a laugh or a point of outrage.