- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Michigan State
- Washington State
- Oklahoma State
- Virginia Tech
- Mississippi State
- NC State
- Boise State
Outside looking In:
- San Diego State
- South Carolina
I have no idea why the NCAA gives the committee three days to decide every preliminary ranking, but just twelve hours to come up with the final rankings. Apparently, the only ranking that actually matters warrants less consideration? Less time for the committee means less time for me to write this blog, so this blog will not be as thorough.
Clemson has the number 1 spot locked up after destroying Miami on every front to take home the ACC championship 38-3. A 12-1 record and wins over Auburn, Miami, Louisville, and NC State give the Tigers the strongest resume.
Similarly, Oklahoma is equally as cemented at the number 2 spot. The Sooners tore up TCU for the second time this season, 41-17, and took home the Big 12 Championship. An argument can be made that Oklahoma has an even better resume than Clemson. The Sooners also put together a 12-1 record, but with notable wins over Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and TCU twice. On paper these wins may appear even more impressive than Clemson’s. However, the committee will certainly not drop Clemson after they beat the number 7 team in the country (Miami) by 35 points.
At the number 3 spot are SEC champions Georgia. At one point in the season Georgia was number 1 in these rankings, and deservedly so; That is, until they lost to Auburn. Auburn had been one of the hottest teams in the country coming into this Saturday. Yet the Bulldogs were able to avenge this loss in the SEC championship, by beating the Tigers handily 28-7. Like the the other teams in the top 3, the Dawgs also boast a 12-1 record, but in the country’s best conference. Wins over Auburn, Notre Dame, and Mississippi State, may also have Georgia fans thinking they should be number one. But as I mentioned before, there is simply no way they will jump Clemson or Oklahoma after both notched convincing victories in their conference championship games.
The fourth spot is where all the controversy will come from. Alabama and Ohio State are the only viable candidates for this spot. If anybody even mentions USC, I will rabbit punch them. USC has two losses in a weak Pac 12 conference. Their only notable wins came over Stanford on two different occasions this season. They lost to both of the other ranked teams they faced (Washington State and Notre Dame). They are dead and I will hear no more of it. On to the real candidates.
Alabama and Ohio State are number 1 and 2 respectively in FPI (Football Power Index). Alabama is 11-1. Ohio State is an 11-2 conference champion. There are a number of arguments you can make for either team. But the bottom line to me is: who do you think is a better team? The answer to that question: Alabama would be clearly favored against the Buckeyes. Anybody who has watched a down of college football this year knows Alabama is one the best four teams (maybe even the best). They have been consistent all year, and unfortunately had to matchup against Auburn in the most important rivalry game in college football. The tide lost to an Auburn team that had also just beaten the brakes off of another former number one team, Georgia. Would Ohio State have beaten Auburn? Of course this is an opinion, but with a healthy Kerryon Johnson, I don’t believe anyone beats Auburn, and certainly not Ohio State. The way Auburn has been playing, that game would not even be close. Ohio State was outclassed early in the season by Oklahoma, and lost by 31 to an Iowa team that finished 7-5. Alabama simply would never lose to an unranked 7-5 team. And they surely would not lose by 30. In comparison, when Alabama beat a comparable 7-5 Texas A&M team by 8, people treated it like a loss.
Sure Ohio State has better wins on paper against Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State. That is ignoring the fact that the Big Ten has simply not been very good this year. The SEC have 3 teams that would belong in matchups against any of the other top 3 teams. I don’t know that the Big Ten even has one (People forget Ohio State lost 31-0 last year in the playoffs against Clemson). Wisconsin has beaten no one of worth and Michigan State have shown themselves to be nothing special. Penn State also has disappointed despite going 10-2. In a weak year for the conference, these teams have not proved themselves by beating anybody of worth outside of the Big Ten. Let’s look at Alabama on the other hand. People devalue their wins against Florida State and Mississippi State because of the way those teams finished the season. But it is important to note that both teams lost their starting quarterbacks changing the trajectory of their seasons. Alabama has been evaluated as the best team in the country pretty much all season long. Suddenly they lose one game and their entire resume is invalidated. In my eyes, Alabama lost one game to a team better than anybody on Ohio State’s schedule. Just because they are in a more difficult conference, they did not get the chance to compete in a championship game. That is a structural issue not a skill issue.
Meanwhile, Ohio State lost two games against weaker competition. Alabama is clearly the better team, and the committee said as much by ranking Alabama ahead of Ohio State throughout the entirety of the season. Now people are somehow spinning it to say Ohio State is more deserving because of a conference championship and wins against Penn State and Wisconsin. The committee’s job is to pick the best team, not the most deserving team. And if Auburn is on Ohio State’s schedule we are not even having this discussion. That being said I’m getting the feeling Bama may be shafted. Marketability issues with having too many southern market teams, and no northern market teams could also be a road block. But does anyone at all really want to see Clemson blow out Ohio State again this year? The fact of the matter is that Alabama would open as favorites against every other member of the top 4. Ohio State would be an underdog against everyone except maybe Oklahoma (who already beat the Buckeyes by 15). That in itself should be all that matters. Everybody believes Alabama is one of the four best teams in the country if not the best, and they have a better record in a tougher conference. They are a one loss team like the rest of the top 4 field. The only difference is their loss came against a #6 ranked Auburn in a rivalry game. How can we not forgive Alabama for that, but absolve Clemson and Oklahoma of losses to Syracuse and Iowa State respectively. I know one thing: the Clemson Tigers will no doubt be hoping to see Ohio State in that four spot. That should tell you all you need to know.