With the penultimate College Football Playoff Rankings for the 2020 season set to be released Tuesday night, we do not want to wait that long to get a taste of how the CFP Selection Committee will be ranking the top 25 teams in the nation. 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 on Dec. 19.
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.
Even some of the ancillary categories discussed -- wins over teams above .500, wins over ranked teams -- are not helpful. The lack of nonconference games has some teams on either side of that .500 line would not normally be in those positions. The Big Ten and Pac-12 weren't even eligible to be ranked in the AP Top 25 for much of the season, so some teams were in the bottom of those rankings that normally would not have been placed there, especially early on. Going by game-time rankings is illegitimate anyway.
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 will look like Tuesday night.
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 put the finishing touches on a dominant regular season in a 52-3 win over Arkansas. Alabama has won its 10 games by an average of over 32 points per game.|
|Notre Dame was given this week off by the ACC and will next face Clemson in the league title game. The Fighting Irish will be trying for their first ever conference championship.|
|The Tigers also had the week off. They will be looking for their sixth consecutive ACC title on Saturday and a spot in the College Football Playoff.|
|Ohio State did not get a chance to play archrival Michigan due to COVID-19 issues with the Wolverines. However, it was not all bad news for the Buckeyes last week. The Big Ten did away with its poorly thought out rule regarding the minimum number of games required to be eligible for the conference championship game, giving Ohio State a spot. The Buckeyes will face Northwestern for the Big Ten title and a spot in the CFP.|
|The Aggies' game with Ole Miss was canceled, so they will not get a full 10-game season completed. Texas A&M finishes the regular season at Tennessee where a win keeps its CFP hopes alive.|
|The Cyclones had a scheduled week off and will face Oklahoma for the Big 12 title on Saturday. ISU has a chance at an at-large spot in a New Year's Six game even with a loss.|
|The Bearcats were unable to play at Tulsa last week due to lingering COVID-19 issues in the team. They will try again this week, this time at home, in the AAC Championship Game.|
|Florida lost at home to LSU 37-34 in a game played in a fog, literally and figuratively for the Gators. They lost control of their own CFP fate. Now, beating Alabama for the SEC championship is not enough to ensure a playoff spot.|
|Georgia's game with Vanderbilt last week was postponed to this week and then canceled. The Bulldogs are finished with the regular season and almost certainly playing in a New Year's Six game.|
|The Sooners ended up getting an extra week to prepare for Iowa State when their game at West Virginia was canceled. Oklahoma enters the Big 12 Championship Game as a favorite over the higher-ranked Cyclones.|
|The Hoosiers game against Purdue last week was canceled due to COVID-19 issues with both teams. The Big Ten rescheduled the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket for this Friday, which was a disservice to the Hoosiers. They needed a game against a better team, like Iowa. It didn't matter anyway. Indiana announced on Tuesday that it cannot play this week, either.|
|The Chanticleers struggled to win at Troy, but I do not expect that result to negatively impact this week's ranking. Coastal takes on Louisiana this week in the first Sun Belt Championship Game to feature two ranked teams.|
|The Wildcats beat Illinois 28-10 to clinch the outright Big Ten West division title. They had already clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.|
|For the third time this season, USC scored on its final possession to win a game. The Trojans knocked off UCLA 43-38 to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 title game. They were supposed to face Washington, but COVID-19 issues with the Huskies has knocked them out and now USC will play Oregon.|
|UNC absolutely smoked Miami 62-26 and is now the leading contender for the ACC spot in the Orange Bowl. It will be interesting to see if this gives the Tar Heels much of a boost in the rankings though. They have three losses, and two of them are to Florida State and Virginia.|
|The Hawkeyes beat Wisconsin 28-7 for their sixth straight win. Iowa is one of only three Big Ten teams to complete a full 8-game season. The Hawkeyes will host Michigan in its bonus game. That is an all risk, no reward situation for Iowa.|
|The Cougars completed a 10-1 regular season with a 28-14 win over San Diego State. Next up for BYU is a game against UCF in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 22.|
|The Hurricanes gave up almost 800 yards to UNC in the loss on Saturday and figures to plummet down this list. Miami was supposed to play Georgia Tech this weekend, but the Yellow Jackets are unable to play.|
|The Ragin' Cajuns will make its third straight appearance in the Sun Belt Championship Game, which means they have been in all of those games. Louisiana is still looking for its first title after losing to Appalachian State in the first two games. This time, the Ragin' Cajuns face Coastal Carolina, which won the regular season meeting 30-27.|
|COVID-19 issues knocked the Longhorns out of its final regular season game with Kansas. They are the backup if either Iowa State or Oklahoma cannot play in the Big 12 title game this week.|
|The Cowboys ended the regular season with a 42-3 thrashing of Baylor.|
|The Wolfpack's regular season ended on Dec. 5. They finished tied for fourth in the ACC with North Carolina.|
|Tulsa was hoping to get a shot at Cincinnati at home before playing the Bearcats again for the conference championship, but no such luck. The Golden Hurricane will have to beat Cincinnati on the road if they are to win the AAC title.|
|The Broncos only loss came to BYU when they had to play their third-string quarterback. It may not have mattered. They can still win the Mountain West title on Saturday against San Jose State.|
|The vagabond Spartans have overcome every obstacle in their path to complete a 6-0 regular season. They will "host" Boise State for the Mountain West title in their home away from home, Las Vegas.|