What will the College Football Playoff rankings be in the second unveiling on Tuesday night?
This just cleared up fast in a whole slew of ways.
After a big weekend with a slew of important results, there are now seven teams that control their own destinies. LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, Minnesota, Baylor and Penn State. For those seven, win out, and get into the College Football Playoff.
For everyone else – and this includes Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah – it’s going to take winning out and getting some help. This year, 12-1 with a Power Five conference championship might not be good enough because of …
The Crimson Tide haven’t beaten anyone of note other than Texas A&M, but how much will the committee care? With a date at Auburn to close out, if the Tide win and go 11-1, and if LSU wins out and goes 13-0 with an SEC championship, can there be a new precedent set?
There’s a long way to go, but unlike last year when there were just two unbeaten Power Five teams – Alabama and Clemson – along with Notre Dame by this point, there are five.
As always, a few things to keep in mind …
1. This is simply a snapshot. We can see how the committee is thinking early on, and we can get a first look at what it seems to like, but it gets thrown out next week and the process starts over.
2. In general, the committee over the first five years of this thing loves big wins and hates ugly losses. You can lose, but don’t get wiped out. At the end of the day, the committee can like any team it wants to, just because. However … big wins, big wins, big wins.
3. Each spot in the order is argued over. It’s not just a random list thrown together in a room. Everyone has to agree that team X needs to get put ahead of teams Y and Z. You might not agree with the rankings, but each spot in the top 25 has been meticulously debated.
And after all of that, it’s about feel, eye-test, and resumé.
So what will they be? Here’s the best guess for what the second College Football Playoff rankings will be on Tuesday night.
25. Kansas State Wildcats 6-3 (16)
Being the one team that beat Oklahoma will be just enough to allow the Wildcats to hang on in the top 25. The wins over Mississippi State and TCU help, and the three losses were to Baylor at home, and Texas and Oklahoma State on the road. All three will be likely be ranked.
24. Oklahoma State Cowboys 6-3 (25)
Arguably the biggest surprise in the first top 25, the Cowboys managed to somehow slip into the first rankings thanks to a win over a Kansas State team that beat Oklahoma. There isn’t a lot else to like, but despite the off-week, they’re not going to slip out of the rankings.
23. Texas Longhorns 6-3 (NR)
The win over Kansas State changes the game. The Longhorn loss to TCU hurts, and the rough game against Kansas is a problem, but the team managed to get by the Wildcats this week, and the two other losses were to Oklahoma and LSU – nothing wrong with that. The win over Oklahoma State a few weeks ago will be enough to get into the top 25.
22. SMU Mustangs 9-1 (25)
The offense is still a blast. There’s no defense whatsoever, but there’s still a win over a TCU team that beat Texas, and the offense has not scored 41 points or more in eight of its last nine games. It’ll move up a wee bit, but not enough to get in range of the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl quite yet.
21. Navy Midshipmen 7-1 (24)
Navy was off this week, but it gets its chance to make a massive statement to the committee with a trip to Notre Dame this week and with SMU to follow. The win over Air Force was good, but that’s it. The ranking is almost all about the 7-1 record.
20. Iowa Hawkeyes 6-3 (18)
How far will the Hawkeyes slide? Not far. The three losses were to Wisconsin and Michigan on the road and at home to Penn State by a combined 14 points. There isn’t a strong win – Iowa State comes close – but that chance is coming against Minnesota this week.
19. Boise State Broncos 8-1 (22)
Boise State isn’t remotely passing the eye-test – it’s struggling way too much lately with QB Hank Bachmeier banged up and having a hard time staying on the field – but there’s still the win at Florida State, there’s still a win over Air Force, and in all, there’s a good chance it has wins over seven teams that will go bowling.
18. Memphis Tigers 8-1 (21)
The Tigers didn’t play this week, but their ranking will be strengthened – and improved – thanks to SMU coming up with a ninth win – MU beat SMU 54-48 two weeks ago. At the moment, the Tigers gave both SMU and Navy their only losses.
17. Cincinnati Bearcats 8-1 (20)
This will be one of the key teams that will benefit from the several losses this weekend. The 48-3 blowout of UConn won’t matter to the committee, but with losses by Iowa, Kansas State and Wake Forest, UC will move on up and stay on top of the Group of Five pack.
16. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 7-2 (15)
The 38-7 blowout win over Duke on the road was nice, but the Fighting Irish can’t get moved ahead of Michigan – they lost 45-14 a few weeks ago in Ann Arbor – and they need a lot of help to start moving up. However, beat Navy, Boston College and Stanford to finish at 10-2, and at worst, they’ll get one of the ACC’s top bowl games.
15. Michigan Wolverines 7-2 (14)
The Wolverines will be stuck in neutral – and should drop a spot – after not playing this week and with a slew of other big things happening. With Michigan State, at Indiana, and Ohio State still to play, a New Year’s Six game will still be possible as they stay in the top 15.
14. Wisconsin Badgers 7-2 (13)
The 24-22 win over Iowa was nice, but it needs Minnesota to lose once, and it needs to win out against Nebraska, Purdue, and the Gophers to get to the Big Ten Championship. There’s going to be a LOT of traffic ahead of the Badgers to get to the Rose Bowl, but they’ll be in range.
13. Auburn Tigers 7-2 (11)
Will the committee fix the glitch? Auburn lost to Florida and LSU – it should be ranked behind those two. Florida also lost to Georgia – it’ll be ranked lower than the Dawgs. Auburn beat Oregon, who doesn’t have that many great wins, but the Ducks were No. 7 and AU 11. The Tigers can’t win the SEC West, but if they beat Georgia this week and shock Alabama, they’re a lock for the New Year’s Six, and maybe the Sugar Bowl.
12. Florida Gators 8-2 (10)
The committee will get it right by putting the Gators ahead of Auburn, but they’ll still be ranked too low. They’ll drop a bit only because of all the other things going on, and the 56-0 whacking of Vanderbilt won’t get a whole lot of respect. However, if they get by Missouri and Florida State to close things out, watch out for them to slip into a New Year’s Six game.
11. Oklahoma Sooners 8-1 (9)
The near-collapse to Iowa State will be enough for the committee to correct last week’s mistake. Now it’ll put an unbeaten Baylor – who beat the same Kansas State team that beat Oklahoma – higher, and the 89 points allowed in the last two games will jump off the page.