The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday night. There’s little debate regarding the top four spots. But contention and jockeying between teams just on the outside looking in is fierce. Here is how I see things as a person with no say in the matter.
#1 Alabama: There’s nothing to debate here. The Crimson Tide are 8-0 and destroying teams to the point it’s not suitable television for young children. Nick Saban’s traditional ferocious defense and a legitimate Heisman Trophy contending quarterback makes quite a combination.
#2 Clemson: A 59-10 road drubbing of Florida State doesn’t mean as much this year than in years past, but it’s still a good data point for a team that could end up with a body of work that includes one or zero ranked wins. The Tigers likely can’t afford a loss, but probably won’t get one anyway.
#3 Notre Dame: The Michigan win is aging like a fine wine and the Irish are in a similar boat with Clemson. An unblemished 12-0 record won’t leave them home come playoff time. The fear, of course, is a replay of the 2012 team exposed by Alabama.
#4 LSU: In my mind, coach Ed Orgeron’s side has been the second-most impressive in the country. The Florida stumble, however, forces them to win out. The path includes winning a game few think they can win next week. If that defense comes to play, it will be a four-quarter contest.
#5 Georgia: The sole loss came on the road against aforementioned LSU. The Bulldogs dominated the Gators in an always-tough neutral environment. Shockingly, next week against Kentucky will provide another resume-building opportunity.
#6 Michigan: Notre Dame is a good loss. Questions about the quality of the Wisconsin and Michigan State wins abound. The Wolverines have Penn State and the hated Buckeyes looming to make hay.
#7 Oklahoma: I’m not sure there’s a more dangerous offensive team out there. Also not sure what a Big 12 champion Sooners team with one loss will look like compared to other one-loss champions.
#8 Ohio State: A 29-point loss to Purdue will linger in air, much as last year’s debacle against Iowa did. The Buckeyes will still be favored against Michigan, and need the Wolverines to keep winning. Don’t count them out just yet.
#9 UCF: It’s just really hard to know how good this year’s team is compared to last. Don’t think we’ll ever have an answer. To be clear, the Knights have no chance. The system just ain’t fair.
#10 Washington State: The Cougars have beaten Oregon and Stanford and appear to be bound for the Pac-12 title game. I’d also take every other team on this list ahead of them in a hypothetical matchup.
And here’s what I think the committee will do.
#3 Notre Dame
#8 Ohio State
#9 Washington State
#10 West Virginia