And here we go. The first College Football Playoff rankings of the season come out on Tuesday night. What will the top 25 be?
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After all the speculation and all the preseason talk and all the other rankings over the first few months, the ones that actually matter come out on Tuesday night. They’re the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2016, and they should be relatively cut-and-dry.
Remember, the College Football Playoff committee takes into consideration the entire body of work – it’s mainly about strength of schedule and big, impressive wins. But it also factors in what’s going on right now with injuries, key changes – like Sam Darnold taking over the QB gig at USC – and other factors.
Of course, none of this means much until the season is over, but it’ll be a great look to see how the College Football Playoff people are thinking.
So, the when they come out on Tuesday night, the first College Football Playoff top 25 rankings will almost certainly be …
2016 First College Football Playoff Top 25 Rankings Will (Most Likely) Be …
The eye test will factor into the equation a wee bit here. There’s no real debate since the Crimson Tide have wins over USC and Texas A&M, and while the road wins over Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee might not look so impressive now, they’ll be factored in as major positives since they – along with the win over USC – were away from Tuscaloosa.
There’s a slight chance Clemson gets the No. 1 spot based on resume. Alabama might look better, and Michigan could be ranked No. 2 based on a if-they-played-right-now-on-a-neutral-field thing, but the Tigers have a road win over Auburn – which now looks fantastic. They’ve handed Troy its only loss, beat a Louisville team that the CFP will love, and now have a road win over Florida State. Throw in road wins over Georgia Tech and Boston College, and being in the two spot works.
The Wolverines won’t be any lower than this, and they won’t be No. 1. There’s a chance they could flip-flop here with Clemson and be No. 2, but it doesn’t matter yet. The blowout over Penn State will get plenty of love, and beating Wisconsin will be great. Throw in the win over Colorado, and the dominant way the Wolverines have been winning – at least against everyone but the Badgers – and they’ve done everything right.
This is probably the one sure thing about the first College Football Playoff rankings. The Huskies’ win at Utah will be the only thing to hang their hat on, but along with being unbeaten, that’ll be enough. There’s a minuscule chance Louisville could slip in here if the committee really, really likes that blowout win over Florida State, but that’s doubtful. U-Dub will be in the top four until it loses – if it loses.
5. Texas A&M (7-1)
The Aggies beat UCLA, won at Auburn, beat Tennessee, and the only loss is at Alabama. There’s no shame in the defeat.
6. Louisville (7-1)
The Cardinals might have struggled way too much to get by Duke and Virginia – and that’ll be taken into account. At the end of the day, the Cardinals have one blowout win over NC State, and one destruction of Florida State. There’s not a lot else to get excited about.
7. Ohio State (7-1)
The win over Oklahoma looks outstanding, while beating Wisconsin in Madison really, really matters. The collapse at Penn State, though, is worse than Louisville’s loss.
8. Wisconsin (6-2)
The win over LSU carries weight, beating Iowa at Iowa matters, and giving Nebraska its first loss – along with the two losses coming against Michigan and Ohio State – will be enough to get the Badgers within striking distance.
9. Auburn (6-2)
Theoretically, this might be way too low. The Tigers’ two losses are to Clemson and Texas A&M, while wins over LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss look great. The team is peaking at just the right time.
10. Oklahoma (6-2)
The opener against Houston is bad, but the Ohio State loss will be blown off considering the offense is now ripping through everything in its path. However, Texas and Kansas State are the best wins – whoopee.
11. Nebraska (7-1)
Losing at Wisconsin in overtime will get a little bit of love, but there’s no win of note. It’s not Nebraska’s fault that Oregon stinks.
12. West Virginia (6-1)
The Mountaineers have decent wins over Kansas State, Texas Tech and BYU, but they’re not that special.
13. Penn State (6-2)
The Nittany Lions will get a ton of credit for being the ones who beat Ohio State, but the College Football Playoff committee will have to have known how they got outplayed, right? The second best win? Minnesota, and the loss to Pitt hurts.
14. Florida (6-1)
There’s one, big, giant problem – where’s the beef? The best win is over … Georgia?
15. Oklahoma State (6-2)
Call this the X factor ranking. How much will the College Football Playoff committee factor in the way the Central Michigan loss went down? The one loss at Baylor is okay, and giving West Virginia it’s first defeat will be nice.
16. Virginia Tech (6-2)
Miami, Pitt and North Carolina wins – good. Syracuse loss – really, really bad.
17. Utah (7-2)
The Utes will get credit for playing Washington tough, and they might catch a break for losing to Cal late. The win over USC will help, but that’s about it.
18. North Carolina (6-2)
Will it be noted that UNC lost to Virginia Tech in a hurricane? The loss to Georgia also hurts, but beating Miami, Florida State and Pitt will score big.
19. USC (5-3)
Beating Colorado will be a major factor, and the College Football Playoff committee will take special note of the way the team is playing now with Sam Darnold as the starter over the last few weeks.
20. Florida State (5-3)
Will the College Football Playoff committee note how close the North Carolina loss was and how it happened? There’s no shame in losing to Clemson and Louisville – even if the UofL loss was a disaster.
21. Tennessee (5-3)
The two losses to Texas A&M and Alabama were fine, but the Vols are on a three-game losing streak. You can’t lose to South Carolina, but they beat Florida and Virginia Tech.
22. LSU (5-2)
There isn’t a really, really good win, but the Tigers are a pick and a half second away from being 7-0.
23. Baylor (6-1)
You can’t give Oklahoma State credit for being okay, and then say Baylor doesn’t have one decent win. But that’s it. There’s NOTHING else.
24. Western Michigan (8-0)
Just how much does 8-0 matter when it’s against the MAC? Beating Northwestern now looks okay, and throttling Illinois isn’t awful.
25. Colorado (6-2)
There isn’t any one massive win to get excited about, but the two losses at Michigan and USC are more than forgivable.