The day that we had all been waiting for finally came to us Tuesday evening, when the College Football Playoff Selection Committee released their initial Top 25. To no one’s surprise, the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide sit at the top, followed by Clemson, Michigan and, surprisingly, Texas A&M.
Here is complete ranking:
1. Alabama 8-0
2. Clemson 8-0
3. Michigan 8-0
4. Texas A&M 7-1
5. Washington 8-0
6. Ohio State 7-1
7. Louisville 7-1
8. Wisconsin 6-2
9. Auburn 6-2
10. Nebraska 7-1
11. Florida 6-1
12. Penn State 6-2
13. LSU 5-2
14. Oklahoma 6-2
15. Colorado 6-2
16. Utah 7-2
17. Baylor 6-1
18. Oklahoma State 6-2
19. Virginia Tech 6-2
20. West Virginia 6-1
21. North Carolina 6-2
22. Florida State 5-3
23. Western Michigan 8-0
24. Boise State 7-1
25. Washington State 6-2
For the most part, I think that the committee was pretty troll-free Tuesday night. Here are a few more of my reactions to the selection committee’s initial ranking:
Alabama shouldn’t be Number 1
I know that I’m going to piss off some Bama fans for saying this, but it’s the truth. The Crimson Tide hold a number one ranking solely based on beating fourth ranked Texas A&M. Yes, you can point to the road domination at Arkansas and Tennessee, as well as the combined opponent record of 39-27. According to the CFP committee, Alabama has only played and beaten one Top 25 team. By that fact, I don’t understand why the Crimson Tide is ahead of Clemson who has defeated three Top 25 teams—-@ (8) Auburn, vs. (7) Louisville, @ (22) Florida State. The Tigers opponents also have a combined record of 43-22—40-18 when only considering FBS opponents.
Michigan also has three committee Top 25 wins—vs. (8) Wisconsin, vs. (12) Penn State, vs (15) Colorado—albeit all of them coming in Ann Arbor. I’m not shocked in the least bit by the committee’s decision; it just doesn’t make sense when comparing the other Top 4 teams.
Strength of Schedule/Strength of Record Important
The biggest thing that will come out of Tuesday night’s committee rankings is the exclusion of unbeaten Washington from the Top 4. The general consensus for many too lazy to look at overall resumes of teams was that the four unbeaten’s from the Power 5 would make up the initial Top 4. That, of course, was not the case. The Huskies have looked impressive, especially after a win in Salt Lake City over 16th ranked Utah this past weekend, but the strength of the PAC-12 and their schedule clearly kept them out.
Louisville was another team that people thought may have a chance at getting into the Top 4, but is currently being held back by their lone win vs a Top 25 team being against 5-3 and 22nd ranked Florida State. The road trip to Houston later this month was supposed to be a marquee game for the Cardinals, but the Cougars being left out of the initial ranking spells trouble for Lamar Jackson and Co. outside chances at the playoff.
Texas A&M was a team that surprised me by jumping into the Top 4. Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt cited the Aggies four wins over plus .500 teams, in comparison to Washington’s two, for the reason why the Aggies are ahead at the moment. Personally, I take some consideration to wins over winning teams but beating Arkansas and Tennessee can only can go so far when their best win is at Auburn. Particularly, when A&M didn’t look that strong at Alabama in the second half after going up 14-13.
Auburn may have a shot at the playoff
It wasn’t too long ago when people were ready to jump off of the ‘Gus Bus’ and were crying for Art Briles. After Gus Malzahn decided to stick with Sean White at quarterback and handed over play calling duties to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, the Tigers have looked like one of the best teams in the SEC, and country. Auburn’s only losses have come to Clemson and Texas A&M, who both sit in the Top 4, while owning a win against 12th ranked LSU.
Now we play the ‘what if’ game with the Tigers. Auburn will need for Texas A&M to fall once more and then win out, meaning taking down Alabama in Tuscaloosa, to earn a spot in Atlanta. From there, if Auburn wins I would have a hard time believing that the committee would have the gumption to leave out the SEC champ.
-Florida is sitting quietly at 11 after a win over Georgia in the Cocktail Party on Saturday. Jim McElwain’s team still has road trips to Arkansas, LSU and Florida State before likely heading to the SEC title game. It’s pretty cut-and-dry for the Gators. Win out and you’re in. Lose one and win the SEC, and you could still possibly earn an invite.
-Wisconsin would also appear to be another two-loss team, like Stanford a year ago, who could push for a playoff invite. The Badgers edged Nebraska in overtime Saturday, but still need another Huskers loss—Nebraska travels to Ohio State this weekend—to have a shot at the Big Ten West. The Badgers would surely be rooting for LSU to win the SEC in order to strengthen that win and then need to defeat either Ohio State or Michigan in the Big Ten title game to have a realistic chance.
-The Big 12, as we already knew, is in trouble. Oklahoma is the highest ranked team at 14, but does have games against Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State—-all currently ranked—-to close the season after traveling to Iowa State. Like Wisconsin, the Sooners will be rooting for an out of conference foe, i.e. Ohio State and Houston, to win their league in order to strengthen their losses, along with mass chaos to ensue.
-Currently, Western Michigan sits as the highest ranked Group of Five team, which is guaranteed a spot into a New Year’s Six bowl—this year being the Cotton Bowl. Following a loss to Wyoming, Boise State sits right behind the Broncos at 24. It will be interesting to see if Boise’s strength of schedule is able to leap frog the Broncos who do possess two Big Ten road wins at Illinois and Northwestern.
I’m glad to finally have an idea of how this years committee views the teams across the country but will not allow myself to get trolled down the line. As always, remember that this ranking doesn’t matter, the only one that does is the one that is released on December 4th, which will select the teams that play in the College Football Playoff.