What would the College Football Playoff rankings be after Week 7 of the college football season.
This all gets going live in two weeks, and even then, it’s not even for real until the final answer after Championship Weekend.
The College Football Playoff committee cares about the four best teams. It’s why Alabama got in last year and Ohio State made its way into the fun in 2016. But even before that, it’s who wins their conference championships, and who does it with 12 wins.
Over the last four years – the life of the College Football Playoff – there have been 13 teams who’ve gone through the regular season with 12 or more wins and a Power Five conference championship. All 13 teams have found their way in, with the other three an 11-1 Big 12 champion Oklahoma in 2015, and 2016 OSU and 2017 Bama.
But for now, and in the world of the rankings before the final ones, the committee sort of blows off how teams look and mostly go by resumés.
It goes through each spot in the rankings step by step, spot by spot, arguing and making a case for each team.
Remember, in general, the committee likes big wins, and more than anything else, it likes big wins on the road. Records don’t always matter – mediocre schedules are exposed fast.
In the first rankings last year, unbeaten Wisconsin and Miami teams were behind six one-loss teams early on, and four two-loss teams were ranked ahead of UCF.
So if the rankings were being done right now, here’s the best guess on what they’d be.
25. Cincinnati Bearcats 6-0
The Bearcats might be unbeaten, but their best win is over Tulane. The one Power Five win – at UCLA – isn’t all that great at the moment.
24. USF Bulls 6-0
There might be a wee bit more love given to the Bulls than this, considering their wins over Georgia Tech and Illinois. That might not be great, but those are Power Five victories.
23. Colorado Buffaloes 5-1
The committee would like the tight win over Arizona State, but winning at Nebraska doesn’t matter right now. The loss at USC last week – and the injuries at receiver – would knock them down.
– USC 31, Colorado 20
22. Penn State Nittany Lions 4-2
How much would the committee like the win over a strong Appalachian State team? Blowing away Pitt 51-6 on the road looks great now, but losing to Ohio State and Michigan State at home is a killer in the rankings.
– Michigan State 21, Penn State 17
21. Washington State Cougars 5-1
Where do you put the Cougars? The three-point loss at USC is fine, and they beat Utah. That’s about it, though, for the schedule.
20. Iowa Hawkeyes 5-1
The committee will love the win over Iowa State, and it’ll respect the tight loss to Wisconsin that was better than the 28-17 score. Beating Indiana and Minnesota on the road helps.
– Iowa 42, Indiana 16
19. West Virginia Mountaineers 5-1
Beating Texas Tech on the road, and taking down Tennessee by 26 weren’t without their charm, but that’s not enough to overcome the recency effect of a brutally ugly 30-14 loss to Iowa State.
– Iowa State 30, West Virginia 14
18. USC Trojans 4-2
The double-digit losses to Stanford and Texas would matter, but those came on the road several weeks ago. Beating Washington State and Colorado – giving them each their only loss – would be a huge boost.
– USC 31, Colorado 20
17. UCF Knights 6-0
No, beating Pitt 45-14 isn’t enough. The second-best win? Florida Atlantic – yippee. The win at Memphis is a win; nothing more.
16. Washington Huskies 5-2
Brutally tight losses to Auburn and Oregon away from home wouldn’t get dogged too much, and beating Utah on the road and taking care of Arizona State would help the ranking.
– Oregon 30, Washington 27 OT
15. NC State Wolfpack 5-0
Blame the hurricane for not giving State a shot at West Virginia. Going 5-0 only goes so far, but beating Virginia and Boston College would be better to the CFP than it would to everyone else.
14. Stanford Cardinal 4-2
The Cardinal would bring one of the room’s biggest arguments. Losing at Notre Dame is forgivable, but getting blown out at home against Utah? Handing San Diego State its only loss, beating USC by 14, and winning at Oregon would trump the issues.
13. Oregon Ducks 5-1
There’s nothing to like on the schedule other than the win over Washington. Love the win over the Huskies; forgive the meltdown against Stanford. That would be the argument.
– Oregon 30, Washington 27 OT
12. Texas A&M Aggies 5-2
For whatever reason, outside of ranking Notre Dame third in the first rankings last year – with the only loss coming to No. 1 Georgia – the committee usually doesn’t give enough credit to teams with only losses to the elite. In this case, losing to Bama on the road and in a fight with Clemson matters, and giving Kentucky its only loss would be a huge deal.
– Texas A&M 26, South Carolina 23
11. Georgia Bulldogs 6-1
The domination over South Carolina and Missouri on the road was nice, but the team had one big test, and it failed miserably in the 36-16 loss to LSU. Some would argue that this is still one of the ten best teams, but by the numbers – and in the arguments – it wouldn’t be put past the teams ranked higher.
– LSU 36, Georgia 16
10. Oklahoma Sooners 5-1
Here’s the problem … where’s the win? At Iowa State and Army would be good according to the metrics the CFP use, but there isn’t that one great victory to love. There wouldn’t be much of a punishment for that Texas loss.
9. Kentucky Wildcats 5-1
The one loss came on the road against Texas A&M – that’s okay. Beating Florida on the road at this point is a big deal, and blowing out Mississippi State and South Carolina would cement a spot in the top ten.
8. Texas Longhorns 6-1
The Maryland loss would be the worst by anyone ranked in the top 20 – if not the top 25 – but that would be forgiven after blowing out USC and beating Oklahoma.
– Texas 23, Baylor 17
7. Florida Gators 6-1
Of course the Kentucky loss at home matters, but at this point, beating LSU, blowing out Tennessee at Tennessee, and getting by Mississippi State on the road would be a bigger deal.
– Florida 37, Vanderbilt 27
6. Michigan Wolverines 6-1
Everyone on the committee would have seen that against Wisconsin. The lone loss is to unbeaten Notre Dame on the road in the opener – the Wolverines might be top five.
– Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13
5. Clemson Tigers 6-0
The win at Texas A&M would get a ton of credit, but it was a close call, and that’s been about it. The committee factors in injuries and the situations at key positions, and losing Kelly Bryant would matter just enough to get ranked behind …
4. LSU Tigers 6-1
LSU 36, Georgia 16. The loss at Florida might sting – and there would be an argument that the Gators should be ranked higher – but beating Miami, beating Auburn, blowing out Ole Miss, and … LSU 36, Georgia 16. Remember, to the committee in the rankings before the last ones … big wins, big wins, big wins.
– LSU 36, Georgia 16
3. Ohio State Buckeyes 7-0
There would be more of a debate than you might think over LSU being ranked here – flip a coin on the No. 3 & 4 spots. The Buckeyes did win at Penn State, but the TCU win now wouldn’t bring more than a yawn.
– Ohio State 30, Minnesota 14
2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 7-0
The Irish handed Michigan its only loss, blew out Virginia Tech on the road, and rolled over Stanford. Again, if this was for real, you wouldn’t/shouldn’t be shocked if LSU was No. 2.
– Notre Dame 19, Pitt 14
1. Alabama Crimson Tide 7-0
Unstoppable, the Tide blew away Texas A&M, crushed a strong Ole Miss team 62-7 on the road, and hasn’t been even close to being touched … in the first half.
– Alabama 39, Missouri 10