While the initial College Football Playoff Rankings for the 2020 season will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 24, we do not want to wait that long to get a taste of how the CFP Selection Committee would be ranking the top 25 teams in the nation if they were already meeting. This is a warm up act for the warm up act, which are all of the CFP Rankings releases before the final one after conference championship week.
Normally, I would detail here some of the criteria the CFP Selection Committee uses to rank the top 25 teams and choose the top four. However, nothing about 2020 is normal, and that includes the information available to the committee. Here is the entire list of criteria for 2020:
- Eye test
- Head-to-head record (if applicable)
- Conference championship (if applicable)
That's it. No strength of schedule or relative offense or any other analytic because four conferences have statistically distanced themselves from the rest of college football by playing only conference games. For example, mathematically speaking, there is no way to compare teams from the SEC to teams from the Big Ten or any other league for that matter.
Due to COVID-19, the committee will have more roster issues to consider with than ever before. How much that concerns them is yet to be determined. It will also have to factor in teams playing an unequal number of games. It is unchartered territory.
With all of that in mind, here is what I think the CFP Rankings would look like if released this week.
Note: Predictions in this story are based only on results to this point, so they do not reflect the final forecast for the playoff. My current playoff and bowl projections can be found here.
|The Crimson Tide have been dominant in SEC play. The loss by Clemson means a line has been drawn between Alabama and everyone else. COVID-19 has yet to affect Bama, but its game with LSU this Saturday is in some doubt. |
|The win over Clemson vaults the Fighting Irish to the top of the rest of college football. It was Notre Dame's first win over a team that is currently above .500. |
|In the otherwise upside down Big Ten East, the Buckeyes are at the top and looking for their first challenge. They will travel to suddenly surging Maryland on Saturday. |
|No Trevor Lawrence, no win at Notre Dame, although Clemson certainly could have won anyway. The injuries on the defensive side of the ball probably hurt the Tigers more. They will enjoy a welcome off week. |
|The Aggies have rebounded nicely from a loss to Alabama in their second game and have wins over Florida and Arkansas. Texas A&M shut down practice due to COVID-19 issues, and its game with Tennessee is in question. |
|Florida dominated Georgia last Saturday and is now in control of the SEC East. The Gators would have to lose twice to open the door back up for the Bulldogs. |
|The Badgers have only played once, but they looked really sharp in that season opening win over Illinois. Wisconsin returns to play at Michigan on Saturday after sitting out the last two weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the team. It is unknown if quarterback Graham Mertz, who had a record-setting debut against Illinois, will be available.|
|The Hurricanes have been lumbering along but only have a loss to Clemson. They have been tested the last two weeks, winning by a combined eight points.|
|The Bearcats have dominating wins over two of the three next-best teams in the AAC. There is still a trip to UCF on the horizon but first they host East Carolina. |
|The Cougars are crushing everybody they play, but unfortunately, it has not been a great schedule. The win at Boise State last Saturday is the best so far, but IT is tainted by the fact that the Broncos were had to go to their third-string quarterback in the first quarter after Jack Sears left with a concussion. There isn't anything BYU can do about its schedule now. It needs to just keep dominating and hope for the best. |
|The Wildcats are 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 2000 after a 21-13 win at home against Nebraska last Saturday. They travel to Purdue in a battle of unbeaten in the Big Ten on Saturday. And that's all you need to know about Big Ten football so far. |
|The Ducks got their season underway with a comfortable 35-14 win over Stanford. There is a concern about how the committee will view Pac-12 teams since they have scheduled at least two fewer games than any other major conference. On top of that, the Pac-12 has been hit relatively hard by COVID-19 early with two games canceled in the first week.|
|Oh, wait. I'm not done with Big Ten weirdness. Indiana is also undefeated, sitting at 3-0 following a 38-21 win over Michigan. The Hoosiers have more wins than Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State combined (two). IU visits the Spartans this week.|
|The Cowboys bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 20-18 win over Kansas State. They have a week off before the Bedlam game at Oklahoma, which will go a long way to helping decide the Big 12 regular season race. |
|The Trojans needed a late rally to beat Arizona State 28-27 in their first game of the season. The Sun Devils were considered one of the top challengers to USC in the Pac-12 South along with Utah, which had its first game canceled due to COVID-19. |
|The Bulldogs were shorthanded on defense against Florida, and it showed. The two best teams that have played or will play the Dawgs beat them by a combined 33 points.|
|The Sun Belt is having a banner season, and the Chanticleers are at the top of the table. They started the season with a win at Kansas and have beaten Louisiana on the road as well. |
|Only Cincinnati has been able to stop the Mustangs so far. SMU has a win over reigning conference champion Memphis and will have its toughest game remaining this Saturday at Tulsa. |
|The Ragin' Cajuns shocked college football with an opening-weekend win at Iowa State. Only Coastal Carolina has defeated Louisiana so far this season.|
|The Cyclones are a half game up on Oklahoma State in the Big 12 standings but do not have the tiebreaker because of a loss to the Cowboys on Oct. 24. They also have that aforementioned loss to Louisiana. |
|Oklahoma's four-overtime win against Texas a month ago seems to have lit a fire under the Sooners. They are now playing like we all thought they would back in August. Too late to be a CFP contender, though. |
|The Boilermakers are off to a 2-0 start but missed out on a chance to Wisconsin last week. Purdue is still hoping to get Rondale Moore back from a hamstring injury sometime soon. |
|Marshall is 6-0 despite having three games postponed so far. One of those wins is over Appalachian State. |
|The Flames are coming off their best win of the season, a 38-35 victory at Virginia Tech on a last-second field goal. They still have games at NC State and Coastal Carolina. |
|The Longhorns have recovered well from that OT loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown with three straight wins since. They are still in the hunt for a shot at the Big 12 title.|