The first set of College Football Playoff rankings were released last Tuesday night, and if the results of the games this past weekend are any indicator, the shake up after one week will probably occur a tier or two below the four schools sitting at pole position for the playoff.
But make no mistake, there were some major pins knocked down over this past weekend, the most surprising (and satisfying, probably, to a lot of fans) was Iowa's mopping the floor with Ohio State, 55-24. Ohio State seems to be the one school that gets more benefit of the doubt from the selection committee historically, on a week to week basis, although this particular committee had them ranked a somewhat surprising sixth overall in the first set of rankings last week. (I thought they'd be in the top four.)
Iowa's thumping of the Buckeyes seems to have prevented the possibility (certainly has prevented the LIKELIHOOD) that Ohio State gets the blue blood treatment from the committee, as some think they did last season, when they were granted a playoff spot without even making the Big Ten title game, and then had Deshaun Watson summarily take them to the woodshed in a national semifinal game, 31-0.
So when the second set of rankings are released tonight, how do I think they will look? Well, let's examine, and this week, I've included the remaining regular season games for each team. (Note: The ranking for each team below is their AP ranking as of Sunday afternoon's AP poll.)
The Football Four
1. ALABAMA (9-0, at Miss St, vs Mercer, at Auburn)
2. GEORGIA (9-0, at Auburn, vs Kentucky, at Georgia Tech)
3. NOTRE DAME (8-1, at Miami, FL, vs Navy, at Stanford)
4. CLEMSON (8-1, vs Florida State, vs The Citadel, at South Carolina)
If the committee swaps out any of the four teams above, then they're just trying to create buzz and conversation, because none of the teams did anything this past weekend that should have them fall outside the top four. Maybe they flip flop Georgia and Alabama, based on Alabama beating Top 25 LSU, 24-10, and Georgia beating less acclaimed South Carolina by the identical score. Who cares, they'll play each other in the SEC title game. Notre Dame handled Wake Forest much more easily than the 48-37 final score would indicate. (The Irish generated more than 700 yards of offense.) Finally, Clemson had a nice road win at NC State, a solid Top 20 team. If these were the committee's four playoff teams last week, they should be again this week.
The Next Two
5. OKLAHOMA (8-1, vs TCU, at Kansas, vs West Virginia)
8. TCU (8-1, at Oklahoma, at Texas Tech, vs Baylor)
Here's the cool thing about these two teams being the next two — they play each other this weekend in Norman, OK. It's essentially an elimination game for the playoff. (By the way, to me, games like this are the argument AGAINST an eight team playoff. I like all of these stops along the way that are basically de facto play off games.) The winner virtually clinches a spot in the Big XII title game, especially TCU, whose remaining schedule consists of Texas Tech and Baylor, who've combined for two wins in conference play all season. The crazy thing is both of these schools have lost to Iowa State, who still have a mathematical shot at winning the Big XII, with a 4-2 conference record, but no shot at the playoff because of a loss to Iowa outside the conference. The Big XII is bananas.
Undefeated With More Work To Do
6. WISCONSIN (9-0, vs Iowa, vs Michigan, at Minnesota)
7. MIAMI, FL (8-0, vs Notre Dame, vs UVA, at Pitt)
Wisconsin beat Indiana on Saturday, which should do very little for them in this week's rankings. I can't see it being enough to skip them ahead of TCU, who beat Texas, 24-7. Miami could sneak into the Top 6 (no chance at the Top 4) with a resounding 28-10 win over Virginia Tech this past weekend, but the rest of the Hurricanes resume is flimsy for an undefeated team. They'll get their chance this Saturday, though, when they host third-ranked Notre Dame, the first time these two have faced off with both teams ranked since the good ol' "Catholics vs Convicts" days.... FEEL THE HATE.....
9. WASHINGTON (8-1, at Stanford, vs Utah, vs Washington State)
With Ohio State and Penn State each flopping to two losses on the season this weekend, all of a sudden, the door is reopened for the Pac-12 and one-loss Washington. Now, to be clear, their loss to Arizona State is not a good loss per se, but neither is Clemson's loss to Syracuse. The difference is Washington hasn't played anybody worthwhile outside of the conference, while Clemson beat Auburn, a dark horse playoff team (more on them in a minute). Washington does have some decent schedule equity the rest of the way with Stanford, Utah, WSU, and potentially USC in the conference title game. That would be three ranked teams, if they hold up. Truth is Washington still needs a lot of chaos, but they are alive, more alive than they were on Friday.
Group of Five Party Crasher
14. CENTRAL FLORIDA (8-0, vs UConn, at Temple, vs USF)
Central Florida has no chance at the playoff, but they are four wins away from going to a New Year's Six bowl game, which is incredible when you consider they were 0-12 in 2015. Amazing. Enjoy Scott Frost for the next few weeks, Orlando. He'll be gone by January.
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Two-Loss Team With a Pulse
10. AUBURN (7-2, vs Georgia, vs ULM, vs Alabama)
All I'll say is, if Auburn manages to upset top ranked Georgia this weekend, you will hear a lot of talking heads saying how "all of a sudden, Auburn has a shot at making the College Football Playoff, with a game against Alabama and a rematch with Georgia in the SEC title game still on their schedule." These people will be trying to sound like they discovered plutonium. Just remember who already discovered plutonium back on October 20 when Auburn was ranked 21st in the AP poll, and they were a complete afterthought (for simple, non-spatial thinkers). It was me!
Two-Loss Teams, Being Read Last Rites
11. OHIO STATE (7-2, vs Michigan State, vs Illinois, at Michigan)
13. MICHIGAN STATE (7-2, at Ohio State, vs Maryland, at Rutgers)
15. USC (8-2, at Colorado, vs UCLA)
I guess, until they're dead in the Big Ten, we can't really put a stake through Ohio State's heart. Truth is that the winner of Ohio State and Michigan State this weekend will have pole position in the Big Ten East, so I can't kill either one off yet, as both of their losses, lopsided home losses as they may be, were to top five teams — Michigan State losing to Notre Dame by 25, and Ohio State losing to Oklahoma by 15. USC can still win the Pac-12, but they need all sorts of craziness to get to a playoff spot, especially with a 35 point loss to Notre Dame on their ticket.
Rest In Peace
12. OKLAHOMA STATE (7-2, at Iowa State, vs Kansas State, vs Kansas)
16. PENN STATE (7-2, vs Rutgers, vs Nebraska, at Maryland)
17. VIRGINIA TECH (7-2, at Georgia Tech, vs Pitt, at Virginia)
Oklahoma State is a nice team, but their two losses are to teams in front of them in the Big XII standings. It's a near impossibility for them to win a tie breaker to get to a conference title game. Enjoy the Alamo Bowl, Cowboys! Also, same thing with Penn State and Virginia Tech. Just not enough equity on the out of conference schedules, and losses to the wrong teams if you're trying to sneak into a conference title game.
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