College Football Playoff Rankings: Mostly status quo as UCF, Syracuse tick up in top 25

The third College Football Playoff Rankings for the 2018 season are out, and for the first time ever, the entire top 10 remained the same from one week to the next. It was that kind of week, though. Hardly anybody was even challenged.

Alabama remains firmly in the No. 1 spot with Clemson checking in just below it, which is unsurprising considering both teams had clear wins of more than 20 points against in-conference competition on Saturday. Just as it did last week, Notre Dame remains in the No. 3 spot with Michigan just behind it at No. 4. In fact, the top 10 teams in last week's CFP Rankings all won with Kentucky and NC State the only top-15 teams to suffer a loss.

It was more chaotic below the top 10 where seven of the teams ranked 11-25 a week ago lost. Only three of those teams are still in the rankings this week. Both UCF and Syracuse ticked up a spot, and the Knights at No. 11 have become the highest-ranked Group of Five team in the playoff era.  

Let's take a look at the entire top 25. Additional analysis follows.

College Football Playoff Rankings, Nov. 13

  1. Alabama (10-0)
  2. Clemson (10-0)
  3. Notre Dame (10-0)
  4. Michigan (9-1)
  5. Georgia (9-1)
  6. Oklahoma (9-1)
  7. LSU (8-2)
  8. Washington State (9-1)
  9. West Virginia (8-1)
  10. Ohio State (9-1)
  11. UCF (9-0)
  12. Syracuse (8-2)
  13. Florida (7-3)
  14. Penn State (7-3)
  15. Texas (7-3)
  16. Iowa State (6-3)
  17. Kentucky (7-3)
  18. Washington (7-3)
  19. Utah (7-3)
  20. Boston College (7-3)
  21. Mississippi State (6-4)
  22. Northwestern (6-4)
  23. Utah State (9-1)
  24. Cincinnati (9-1)
  25. Boise State (8-2)

One of the changes from the committee this week was that, in a heartbeat, head-to-head went from the No. 1 criteria to not as important.  For the first time this season, we have three teams ranked ahead of teams they lost to even though those teams have the same number of losses. 

Florida, which had its 31-game winning streak over Kentucky snapped in The Swamp early this season by a 27-16 score, is now ranked four spots ahead of the Wildcats, who just lost to Tennessee. Boston College lost at NC State 28-23 earlier this season but is ranked 20th this week; the Wolfpack, ranked 14th last week, are nowhere to be found after losing to Wake Forest last Saturday. 

The most egregious example of ignoring head-to-head is closer to the bottom of the rankings. No. 24 Northwestern, which clinched bowl eligibility and the Big Ten West crown last Saturday, is ranked ahead of Duke despite the Blue Devils (7-3) beating the Wildcats (6-4) 21-7 in Evanston, Illinois, back in Week 2. 

Don't get me wrong. I am not criticizing these decisions. I think at least two of them are correct. Head-to-head should be a factor but not the only one. One of the difficulties I had projecting the rankings this week was that I felt Penn State's resume was better than that of Kentucky but not Florida. However, the CFP Selection Committee had not deviated from head-to-head yet, so I put UK higher than they should be and PSU ahead of both. The committee ordered them properly.

The one team to me that is most overrated is Syracuse. The Orange at 7-2 are having a great year, but their best wins are NC State and Western Michigan. They also have a loss to an unranked team in Pitt.  At a minimum, Syracuse should be behind Florida and Penn State.

If you're a Pac-12 fan, you have to be happy to see Washington jump up seven spots, the biggest gain of the week.  Also, Utah rejoins the rankings at No. 20.

Also, you have to be pretty pleased if you are a fan of the Group of Five. In addition to UCF boasting the highest Group of Five rating in playoff history, three other such teams are bringing up the rear of the rankings.  Utah State, Cincinnati and Boise State hold the last three spots in this week's top 25. The Bearcats face the Knights on Saturday. The Aggies visit the Broncos on Nov. 24.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

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