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College Football Playoff Rankings: Clemson at No. 1; LSU, Alabama Both in Top Four

Yes, there would be two SEC teams in the playoff is the season ended right now. Notice that there are still games to be played and all?

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It's November, which means that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. The leaves are falling off trees. And the College Football Playoff rankings are coming out, giving everyone something to lose their minds about for no reason in particular. Wheeeeeee!

And here they are:

1 Clemson
3 Ohio State
4 Alabama
5 Notre Dame
6 Baylor
7 Michigan State
9 Iowa
10 Florida
11 Stanford
12 Utah
13 Memphis
14 Oklahoma State
15 Oklahoma
16 Florida State
17 Michigan
18 Ole Miss
19 Texas A&M
20 Mississippi State
21 Northwestern
22 Temple
24 Toledo
25 Houston

Before we go forward, it's important to understand was is at stake here. What follows is a comprehensive list of what this set of rankings determines:


So everyone making a kerfuffle about Alabama being in the top four or Florida being too low or Ohio State being too high -- let's slow down a little bit and realize that there's still a month of the season left to be played. A lot of these teams are going to play each other, starting this weekend. I would be stunned if an undefeated Big 12 champion is left out of the playoffs this year, or if Florida wins the SEC title and doesn't play for the national championship. There's a long way to go.

That said: I am a bit puzzled about the committee's decision to leave Baylor out of the top four for scheduling reasons and put Ohio State in. The Buckeyes have played five Power 5 teams this year. One of those teams has fired its head coach. The head coach of another has retired after a late-career slump. Only one of the Power 5 opponents has a winning record. Sure, Baylor "ain't played nobody," but Ohio State ain't, either.

You're also going to here a lot of whining about Alabama being No. 4 -- which is actually a debatable point. I can see arguments for the Tide not being in the top four, and I'm inclined to agree with them. But if the argument for that is, "Alabama has a loss -- full stop," I'm going to ignore it. Undefeated teams are not automatically better than one-loss teams. "Alabama's resume, which includes a loss to Ole Miss, is weaker than Team X's resume" is a solid argument. Simply looking at the loss column without any context, though, is either lazy or simplistic or a mixture of the two.

In any case, my guess at the College Football Playoff (which is not at all a guess, because rules) and the New Year's Six Bowl if the season ended today (which it doesn't) and these rankings were used (which they will not be).

Orange Bowl (Semifinal) Alabama Crimson Tide Clemson Tigers
Cotton Bowl (Semifinal) Ohio St. Buckeyes LSU Tigers
Sugar Bowl
Baylor Bears Florida Gators
Rose Bowl Stanford Cardinal Michigan St. Spartans
Peach Bowl Memphis Tigers Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Fiesta Bowl Iowa Hawkeyes TCU Horned Frogs

ESPN has Iowa and Notre Dame flipped, which makes little geographic sense to me, Atlanta being closer than Arizona to Illinois and vice versa, but it's really irrelevant at this point, or at least as irrelevant as everything else about slicing and dicing these numbers. Either Alabama or LSU will be out of the top four after this weekend, which means someone else will move into one of the playoff spots and the GAME OF THE CENTURY loser will move into one of the bowls (likely the Sugar) and everything will start over again.

And the same is true of anything else in these rankings. Don't like what you see? Hang around a week, and it will change.