Recapping the College Football Playoff's Initial Rankings

Recapping the College Football Playoff's Initial Rankings

NCAA

Recapping the College Football Playoff's Initial Rankings

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@MSU_Football on Twitter

The first round of the College Football Playoff rankings are finally out and have surprised many people around the country, to say the least. The playoff committee clearly values head-to-head matchups and Power Five conference teams in the initial ranking but there is still a lot of football left to be played. Teams that didn’t make it into the top four at this time still have a chance to prove themselves worthy with their play down the stretch. However, looking at potential reasons as to why the committee put teams in certain spots is critical in order to attempt to predict where teams’ fate may lie at the end of the season. 

As college football fans, we all knew who the number one ranked team would be and that is the Georgia Bulldogs. They are and have been all season the best team in the country and remain the favorites to win it all. The Bulldogs boast an extremely strong defense with a well-balanced offense and are a force to be reckoned with each and every week.

The team ranked second on the list wasn’t surprising to see included within the top four but their placement at two has drawn the interest of many. The one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide find themselves right behind their SEC counterparts and in great shape to make the playoff if they win out the rest of the season. The committee most likely views the loss on the road to Texas A&M as a blip due to their positioning. 

Plus, with A&M being ranked at No. 14 themselves in the initial rankings, the three-point loss to the Aggies for the Crimson Tide doesn’t seem as bad as when it happened weeks ago. The committee must also have given Alabama credit for beating Ole Miss and Mississippi State handily, both of whom rank No. 16 and No. 17 respectively in the rankings. For Alabama, they need to win their remaining games to set up a matchup with Georgia in the SEC title game. However, the placement of them at No. 2 in this first playoff ranking suggests that even if they were to lose another close game, the committee very well could still squeak them into the final playoff spot. 

The most talked about decision from the initial rankings has to be the Cincinnati Bearcats and you have got to feel for the team and their fans. They have won every game on their schedule, including a win on the road against the No. 10 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and yet, still can’t find themselves getting the respect they deserve. At a minimum, they should have been ranked over Ohio State, whose best win came at the hands of a reeling Penn State team this past weekend. 

Maybe the committee is giving credit to the Buckeyes for beating Minnesota in the first week of the season, but the fact remains that the Bearcats have a better-quality win than Ohio State and are still undefeated. This initial ranking proves that non-power five conference teams likely have no real opportunity to break into the playoff unless drastic measures take place for the power-five conference teams. The Bearcats can still end up making the playoffs but now they will need to rely on others to lose games instead of being able to control their own destiny. Luckily for them, the teams ahead of them all have tough schedules to end the season and that could factor into the Bearcats’ ultimate fate. 

Another interesting aspect of the rankings is where the Oklahoma Sooners were placed. I agree with the placement of them at No. 8 as the Sooners have been up and down all season. Despite this, they have found ways to survive and win games, something that is needed in college football. They will have a chance to prove to the committee they belong in the playoff because they still must face both No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Baylor on the road. If they win both those games, that adds two quality wins to their resume and could shoot them past teams in front of them. But the same situation is there for both the Cowboys and Bears as well, since they could find themselves potentially making the playoff by beating Oklahoma. The Big 12 is an interesting conference to predict because these teams are likely going to beat up on each other down the stretch and ultimately only one will likely be in the conversation for a playoff spot. 

As mentioned earlier, the committee likes to reward head-to-head matchups because otherwise how do the Oregon Ducks find themselves ranked at No.4? The committee must believe that the road win over Ohio State was big enough to negate a loss to unranked Stanford. While the Ducks do have the win over the Buckeyes, they have also found themselves in close games against teams that had no business hanging around with them. The Ducks also have an easier schedule to finish out the season than many other top ranked teams, with the toughest game likely being their trip down to Salt Lake City to take on Utah. If the Ducks win out, including a win in the PAC-12 title game, then they will probably secure a spot in the playoff despite other teams possibly being more worthy. 

However, this season all shakes out, the need for an expanded playoff remains imminent because every year many deserving teams miss out due to their only being four spots. If college football even expanded the playoff to six or eight teams, I think everybody wins. We will have answers to all our questions in the coming weeks as many of the highly ranked teams still have to face each other in the regular season or in the potential conference title games. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out and as fans, I know we will all be watching closely. 

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