The Playoffs Are Coming...Week 2 Ranking and Reaction

Last night, the College Football Playoff Committee released their latest rankings, and to the surprise of no one, the LSU Tigers sit at the top. Here are this week’s rankings. 

1. LSU

2. Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Georgia

First Two Out:

5. Alabama

6. Oregon

So like I said, to no one’s surprise, LSU sits at the top thanks in part due to their win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa this past weekend. The score was far closer than the actual game indicated, and we got to see the resiliency of Joe Borrow and the LSU offense against the dominant Alabama defense. It was truly a spectacle and it was incredible to see how the second half unfolded. 

So let’s talk rankings. I don’t like it. I think it's wrong, and the committee isn’t looking at the entire body of work. I hate the top 10 of this week’s ranking. 

Wait, what?

You read that correctly. Outside of the top three, I am legitimately upset at how this weeks rankings are sitting. First and foremost, we need to look at conference breakdown. There are currently 3 B1G teams, 3 SEC teams, 2 PAC-12 teams, 1 Big XII team, and 1 ACC team. The dominant conferences are the Big Ten and the SEC. Of the SEC teams in the top ten, LSU is probably most accurately ranked (interchangeable with Ohio State, but that's a later segment), and the most inaccurately ranked would have to be Georgia. 

Oregon is deserving of a higher ranking based on their wins and single loss, a loss to #12 Auburn in the very first game of the season. You’ll notice that Georgia also has just one loss, and while that's true, they lost to a now 4-6 South Carolina, and that loss came in Week 8, not Week 1. Did they receive the benefit of the doubt? Well, it could be argued that they did, just to maintain the perception that the SEC is a tougher conference. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, neither North Carolina or South Carolina are the best team in the Carolinas (What’s up, Appalachian State???).

The CFP committee did not do enough to punish Georgia for losing later in the season to an opponent who remains unranked and will more than likely finish the season with no more than five wins, while continuing to punish Oregon for losing to a consistently ranked opponent in the opening weekend of the season. Fortunately for us, if LSU plays Georgia in the SEC Championship, one of them will lose and only one of should hopefully make the playoffs. Is it bad I’m rooting for LSU here? No? Ok good. Thank you, next. 

Alabama played at home against LSU. The Crimson Tide haven’t lost at home since 2015, which equates to a 31-game home win streak, and a 39-1 SEC record since the same year. I write all of this to say, Alabama doesn’t lose and that’s ok. What is frustrating about Alabama is the fact that they will more than likely sneak into the playoffs without playing in  let alone winning a conference championship, not to mention they will have only one ranked win on their season. No, that’s not saying that they aren’t dominating their opponents, but Ohio State dominated Cincinnati, and Cincinnati is now #17 in the playoff poll. Ohio State has been justly rewarded for beating ranked opponents and dominating them in each facet of the game. 

Clemson was punished for almost losing a few weeks ago by being taken out of the top 4. Perfectly fair? Well, maybe. They weren’t put below any one loss teams, so that’s a positive. However there is little challenge in the ACC in terms of ranked opponents so Clemson has a responsibility to their season to schedule better opponents, and not take the extra “bye” in scheduling a team like Wofford. It could be argued that the ACC is the weakest of the P5 conferences, and I’d be inclined to agree with that at this moment. The second best team in the conference is probably Wake Forest but they can’t stay ranked long enough to give Clemson a quality win, and they won’t even make the conference championship game as they are in the same division as Clemson. Ugh. 

What about Oregon? Well, the Ducks have Utah to look forward to in the PAC-12 Championship, assuming both teams can win out. I’d argue that they have a more difficult schedule than Utah, and that’s solely based on the last game of the season: Oregon State comes to town for the annual “Civil War”. The Beavers would love nothing more than to dash the hopes of Oregon, and this would be the perfect time to do it. While they say to throw the records out in a rivalry game, you can’t help but think that Oregon might overlook OSU and look ahead to the date with Utah. Oregon currently has a win and loss against two Top 25 opponents, so they have a solid resume, and a with for either them or Utah in the PAC-12 Championship *should* hopefully vault them into the playoffs. Let’s be honest, a win over A top 6/7 opponent is always a statement win, no matter who you are. But, both Utah and Oregon need time win out. That’s a must to give the PAC-12 any hope for the playoffs. 

Minnesota. What’s not to love right now? The upstart Gophers won that “winnable game” I talked about last week, and the rankings rewarded them accordingly. Now, the road gets tougher with the better ranking. Minnesota gets Wisconsin and Iowa as the season ends, and we’re gonna see just how tough they are. An emotional win over Penn State was great for a program who needed a boost. Now they can show just how real they are. No room for error this late in the season for the Golden Gophers, especially if they want to make the playoffs. That would include beating Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. That always seems to be the constant, Ohio State vs the B1G East. Assuming Minnesota wins out, the Big Ten Championship will have it’s 8th different team playing in it, and surprisingly not one of those teams has been Michigan. Anyway, there’s no reason in the world to keep Minnesota out if they run the gauntlet of Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State. They already proved they can match up with Penn State, can they match up against tougher competition three more times? 

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Oklahoma and Baylor. I genuinely believe Baylor deserves to be ranked higher than Oklahoma. Baylor is the lone undefeated in the Big XII, and this week is going to tell us exactly what we want to know about the conference and her two “contenders”. Is Oklahoma legit? The loss to Kansas State doesn’t look so horrible with them ranked inside the Top 25, but they should have dropped lower, simile to Georgia. Is Baylor a contender or pretender? Back to back weeks against ranked opponents (Oklahoma and Texas) will tell us if the Bears have the mettle to stand toe to toe against stiff competition, or if they will collapse in the face of real pressure. If Baylor wins this week, they deserve a Top 10 ranking and anything shy of that is a crime. 

If I were to re-rank what the committee presented us, I would have to examine all of the above, and really look hard at the perceived SEC bias. Is it real? Well, that’s for someone who makes way more money than I do to decide. 

Here are my CFP Top 10 rankings for this week:

1. LSU

2. Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Oregon

5. Utah

6. Minnesota

7. Alabama

8. Oklahoma

9. Baylor

10. Georgia

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to chime in. Like I mentioned last week, anything can happen in college football and all we can do is sit back and (hopefully) enjoy the ride. 

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