What will the second-to-last round of College Football Playoff rankings look like on Tuesday night?
The College Football Playoff Rankings Projection
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And now it’s on to the conference championships. Strangely enough, as crazy as Rivalry Week might have seemed, it wasn’t that wild – Clemson, Auburn, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma all took care of business.
But the No. 1 Alabama team, and No. 2 Miami both crashed and burned. So now what? Here’s the best guess on how the process is going to work …
25. NC State (8-4)
Last Week: Not Ranked
After dropping out of the top 25 with a loss to Wake Forest, the Wolfpack should move back into the rankings after beating North Carolina. That doesn’t matter, but the win at Pitt looks better now, as do the wins over Louisville and Boston College.
24. Fresno State (9-3)
Last Week: Not Ranked
The win over last week’s No. 23-ranked Boise State team will put in the Bulldogs just before the rematch in the Mountain West title game. The loss to UNLV is still haunting, but the the other two losses came against Alabama and Washington.
23. Mississippi State (8-4)
Last Week: 14
The committee cares about things like the loss of Nick Fitzgerald. That’s going to drop the ranking more than if the Bulldogs simply lost the Egg Bowl to Ole Miss.
22. Virginia Tech (9-3)
Last Week: 25
Ooooh, a 10-0 win over Virginia. Scintillating. The Hokies aren’t exactly closing out strong. They’re a big loser after Miami’s loss to Pitt – they’d have gone to the Orange Bowl if the ACC got two teams into the CFP.
21. Northwestern (9-3)
Last Week: 22
The quietest hot team in college football, the Wildcats rolled Minnesota and Illinois by a combined score of 81-7 over the last two weeks to close out the regular season on a seven-game winning streak. There are only three wins over bowl-bound teams, but still, it’s been a great run.
20. Memphis (10-1)
Last Week: 20
The ranking doesn’t matter after the 70-13 win over East Carolina. Beat UCF, and go to the New Year’s Six bowl to close out a fantastic season. How amazing has the offense been? It’s averaging close to 54 points per game over the seven game winning streak since losing to UCF.
19. Washington State (9-3)
Last Week: 14
Ugh. With the Pac-12 North title on the line … pffffffft. The committee will still like the win over Stanford just a few weeks ago, and the wins over Oregon and USC keep the ranking from dropping too far, but … yuck.
18. Oklahoma State (9-3)
Last Week: 19
Oklahoma State knocked the 84 mph fastball into the upper deck, blowing out Kansas 58-17. It’s not going to be enough to get a New Year’s Six bowl slot, though.
17. LSU (9-3)
Last Week: 18
This is still the team that came up with the win over Auburn. That’s good, the Troy loss is still bad, and the hot streak to close out the season – blowing out Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M – is what matters now.
16. Michigan State (9-3)
Last Week: 16
The win over Penn State still matters in the mix. Winning three of the last four games helps, and getting to 9-3 is terrific. The 40-7 road win at Rutgers was exactly how you’re supposed to close out a turnaround season.
15. Notre Dame (9-3)
Last Week: 8
All the great things the Irish did a few weeks ago seem miles away now. The blowout win over USC still matters, but the ugly loss to Miami, the struggle vs. Navy is a problem, and the ugly loss to Stanford hurts. This just isn’t the same team it was before the loss to the Hurricanes.
14. Washington (10-2)
Last Week: 17
The injuries suffered in the Apple Cup matter a bit in the rankings, but the blowout win over the archrival overcomes that in the rankings. Washington State had a Pac-12 title appearance on the line, and the Huskies came out and stomped their way to a win and a 10-2 record.
13. Stanford (9-3)
Last Week: 21
Now the committee will give a little more credit to the Washington State loss when Bryce Love was fighting through his ankle problem. With the win over Notre Dame, the Cardinal are off to the Pac-12 Championship winning eight of their last nine games.
12. UCF (11-0)
Last Week: 15
They did it. They got through the regular season unbeaten, closing out with a win over USF in one of the best games of the season. However, it all comes apart with a loss to Memphis. Lose the American Athletic Conference title, and the Tigers will get into the New Year’s Six bowl.
11. TCU (10-2)
Last Week: 12
Rolling by Baylor doesn’t matter all that much, but with Texas Tech beating Texas, now the Horned Frogs have six wins over bowl bound teams. Beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship, and then this gets really, really interesting.
What The College Football Playoff & New Year’s Six Would Be Right Now (this is NOT a projection … it’s based on what the rankings will probably be on Tuesday)
College Football Playoff: Sugar Bowl
Clemson vs. Wisconsin
College Football Playoff: Rose Bowl
Auburn vs. Oklahoma
New Year’s Six
Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Ohio State
Cotton Bowl: TCU vs. Alabama
Fiesta: USC vs. UCF
Peach: Georgia vs. Penn State
10. USC (10-2)
Last Week: 11
There might not be a whole slew of terrific wins, but beating Texas is okay, beating UCLA looks a little better, and the Stanford wins helps. The Trojans are out of the College Football Playoff discussion – 49-14 to Notre Dame ended that – but win the Pac-12 title, go to, most likely, the Fiesta Bowl.
9. Penn State (10-2)
Last Week: 10
It’s not just that Penn State beat Maryland – yippee – it’s that it closed the season so ridiculously strong. Beating Rutgers, Nebraska and Maryland isn’t any big deal, but the Nittany Lions won in blowout fashion after blowout fashion. The 66-3 walloping over the Terps should ensure a New Year’s Six game, possible the Orange Bowl.
8. Ohio State (10-2)
Last Week: 9
It wasn’t the prettiest win over Michigan, but it was effective enough. Ohio State might be stuck being just on the outside of everything looking in – there’s just not an easy path. However, blowout Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, and then there will be a discussion.
7. Miami (10-1)
Last Week: 2
Just how much will the team drop after that clunker of a performance against Pitt? Everything is still okay – beat Clemson in the ACC Championship, get in.
No, really. Ignore what anyone out there trying to make the world a dumber place wants to tell you. If a one-loss Miami team beats the No. 1 team in the nation and takes down the ACC title, it’s in. Definitely.
6. Georgia (11-1)
Last Week: 7
Everything continues to be more than fine. The dominant win over Georgia Tech might move the Bulldogs up to No. 5, but the loss to Auburn was uglier than Alabama’s loss to the Tigers – this about the right spot.
It doesn’t matter. Beat Auburn, win the SEC Championship, go to the College Football Playoff.
5. Alabama (11-1)
Last Week: 1
This is the big test for the committee. Alabama’s resume stinks, with too many tough fights against mediocre teams with big names. If the Crimson Tide are in the top four this week, there’s a big, big problem, because there’s absolutely no argument or case to be any higher than this.
Assume the committee finally snaps out of its Alabama haze – this wasn’t the best team in the country and it didn’t deserve the No. 1 spot – and puts it at five.
4. Wisconsin (12-0)
Last Week: 5
There’s a great chance the Badgers move up to No. 3. More likely, Bucky will be fourth this week, and then if it beats Ohio State for the Big Ten Championship, it’ll be second or third in the final rankings.
Beat the Buckeyes, go to the Rose Bowl.
3. Auburn (10-2)
Last Week: 6
The Miami loss helped the cause, but at the moment, the committee will fall in love with the idea of Auburn beating the No. 1 team two times in the span of a few weeks. The Tigers might be the hottest team in the country, but now they have to prove it all over again. Win against Georgia, get in. Lose, get out.
2. Oklahoma (11-1)
Last Week: 4
The Sooner resume is getting better and better. The blowout win over West Virginia is impressive. The win over Oklahoma State remains impressive. The win at Ohio State is really, really impressive. The first win over TCU is impressive.
OU deserves to be No. 1, but it won’t be. It doesn’t matter. Beat TCU again, go to the Rose Bowl.
1. Clemson (11-1)
Last Week: 3
It’s not as simple as the top two teams losing, so Clemson moves up into the top spot – but it’s not far off.
The committee has been in love with Clemson from the start, to the point of doing everything possible to excuse the loss to Syracuse. Yup … your CFP No. 1 team will have a loss to a 4-8 team on the resume. However, the win over Auburn looks better and better.