College Football Playoff Rankings: Predicting the Top Four (Nov. 18)


The week 13 College Football Playoff Rankings will be released tonight at 7:00. Who deserves to make the top four?

Last week, I looked at the resumes of college football’s top teams and came to a very similar conclusion to what the College Football Playoff committee decided. Although the committee’s decision to move the Oregon Ducks ahead of the Florida State Seminoles was a surprise, the four teams they chose for the top of the poll were not.

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This week, the top four should get another shake up. The formerly-No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide, Florida State got by an underrated Miami Hurricanes team, and the TCU Horned Frogs struggled with the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend. So where does that leave us?

Well, the committee’s job only seems to be getting more difficult. Adam Jacobi at SB Nation broke down each potential contender and concluded, in short, that everyone’s resume is terrible right now. And he is pretty spot on.

Alabama might have the best single win among the contenders after their victory over Mississippi State but their resume might actually look sketchier now because the Dominant-SEC-West narrative unraveled a bit this weekend. Not only did the Auburn Tigers get utterly destroyed by a Georgia Bulldogs team that probably won’t win the SEC East, the Texas A&M Aggies lost to the Missouri Tigers and the LSU Tigers lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks, who were previously winless in conference play.

So now Alabama is left with just one win over a ranked team. The Mississippi State Bulldogs, who skyrocketed up the polls earlier this season with wins over LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn (who were all ranked in the top eight when they played the Bulldogs), are in the same boat now, except that their best win came against Auburn.

Then you have Florida State, the lone unbeaten team in the playoff discussion. The Seminoles should be in the top four by virtue of being unbeaten while playing in a power five conference but, truthfully, their schedule has done them no favors either. FSU has not played a single team this season who is currently ranked in the top 25. That isn’t entirely their fault, as a non-conference schedule featuring Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, and Florida would look pretty solid most years, but it is what it is.

As for the rest: Oregon has three wins over ranked teams (Michigan State, UCLA, and Utah), TCU has one (Kansas State), Baylor has one (TCU), and Ohio State has one (Michigan State).

So, looking at all he resumes, here is how I would order the teams right now:

Top four:

  • No. 1 Oregon Ducks
  • No. 2 Florida State Seminoles
  • No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
  • No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs

First teams out:

  • No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • No. 6 Baylor Bears

A few notes:

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  • Oregon has the best collection of wins right now and I think they could (and should) get the nod at No. 1. I put Florida State at No. 2 behind Oregon partly because the committee showed last week that they are willing to put a one-loss team with a strong body of work ahead of an unbeaten one. I don’t think they will change their thinking on that this week.

    I put Alabama at No. 3 because of the hit their resume took in the SEC West’s weekend of despair. They might have the best win right now but, aside from their win over Mississippi State, the rest of the resume is only so-so. Perhaps scheduling out-of-conference games against Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, and Western Carolina wasn’t such a great idea.

    TCU definitely pushed their luck this weekend with the tougher-than-expected win over Kansas. Ultimately though, the Horned Frogs didn’t lose, and they have thrashed good teams often enough this year to make it obvious that this weekend was a fluke. However, they are on shaky footing right now, and they could easily get dislodged by Mississippi State or Baylor (with the Bears being a near-lock if they win out and take the Big XII Championship).

    I think the committee has done a pretty good job so far. Hopefully that trend will continue tonight.