College Football Playoff NCAAF

Making Sense of the CFP Rankings


November 7, 2017

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Notre Dame
4. Clemson
5. Oklahoma
6. TCU
7. Miami
8. Wisconsin
9. Washington
10. Auburn
11. USC
12. Michigan State
13. Ohio State
14. Penn State
15. Oklahoma State
16. Mississippi State
17. Virginia Tech
18. UCF
19. Washington State
20. Iowa
21. Iowa State
22. Memphis
23. NC State
24. LSU
25. Northwestern

bama msu

The second college football playoff rankings have been released and, to no surprise, the top 4 has remained the same. Number 1 Georgia comfortably dealt with a good South Carolina team 24-10 to keep hold on the top spot. But with a marquee matchup at number 10 Auburn on the horizon, will they be in the same position come next week? Number 2  Alabama also dispatched their opponent 24-10, snapping a three game winning streak for an LSU team that was ranked number 19. Alabama will face another ranked SEC opponent when they go on the road at number 16 Mississippi State this Saturday. It is noteworthy that both Georgia and Alabama  failed to cover the spread. With both teams also facing ranked conference opponents, it will be interesting to see how things shake up.  Number 3 Notre Dame took care of business against Wake Forest, and is now looking forward to a matchup with number 7 Miami. The matchup that provided the namesake for the ESPN 30 of 30 documentary, “Catholics vs Convicts”, will also come with serious playoff implications. Miami silenced some of their detractors this past week with a win as 2.5 point home underdogs, against a number 13 ranked Virginia Tech this past weekend. However, this test against Notre Dame will prove once and for all whether or not the hurricanes are for real. Rounding out the top 4 is Clemson who tightened their grip on a playoff spot with 31-24 win over a quality NC State team. Their matchup with Florida State this coming weekend has lost some of it’s luster due to the nightmare season the seminoles are having. Yet that is not to say the tigers should look past this Florida State team that pundits thought was among the most talented in country at the onset of the season.

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Number 5 Oklahoma may rightfully feel a little disrespected after again being left out of the top 4, despite notching a high stakes bedlam victory in Stillwater. Quality wins over Ohio State and Oklahoma State thus far have not been enough to cement a place in the top 4 for the Sooners. However, a win against number TCU in Norman would go a long way  towards making their case. Similarly a win on the road against Oklahoma would put TCU firmly in the conversation for a playoff spot. With every team in the top 6, except Clemson, playing a ranked opponent, we could be looking a very different playoff picture after the events of this Saturday night.

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Another top 10 team in action that will have a gripe with the playoff committee is number 8 Wisconsin. Although they remain undefeated, a cupcake schedule so far has not allowed them the prove their worth to the committee. They will have a chance to do that this weekend against number 20 Iowa. The badgers need a perfect season to solidify a spot in the top 4: and even that may not be enough.

Just like Wisconsin,  number 9 Washington needs a spotless resume from here on out to even be in consideration for the CFP. A game opponent in Stanford stands in their way this weekend. A number of analysts believe the PAC 12 is already out of the conversation for a playoff berth, but a loss to the Cardinal would surely be a death blow for the Huskies.

I also have to address the newcomers to rankings out of the Big Ten in Iowa and Northwestern. Iowa undoubtedly earned a spot in the rankings with a surprising blowout win against Ohio State to bring their record to 6-3. However, going from unranked to number 20 was a a little bit surprising. Although the committee seems to favor teams who won their last game when it comes to evaluating squads with the same records, you would be hard pressed to convince me Iowa is a better team than LSU or NC State. But given that both NC State and LSU remained ranked, I suppose there was no harm done.

The case for Northwestern being ranked is far weaker. It seems Northwestern’s place at number 25 rests entirely on an overtime victory against Michigan State. A closely contested victory at 4-5 Nebraska last week surely should not have been enough to propel them into the top 25; especially considering that Michigan is sitting there at 7-2. Sure Michigan has struggled offensively throughout the year. But would you honestly not take them over a Northwestern team that lost 41-17 at Duke? Never mind the fact that 7-1 South Florida also has an argument, with their only loss coming against a 6-3 Houston team. When you look at the teams on the outside of the top 25 there are also a number 6-3 teams with more impressive resumes than Northwestern. Take your pick from West Virginia and South Carolina to Stanford and Arizona. The bottom line is that in a very weak year for the Big Ten, a 6-3 team with a relatively pedestrian resume sitting at number 25 as the 6th Big Ten team in the rankings (Most of any conference in the FBS), is difficult to make sense of.

Obviously this is still a preliminary ranking from the committee so it means nothing. Which means this article means nothing. Which means I wasted my time writing this, and you’re an idiot for reading it.



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