College Football Playoff Rankings prediction: LSU in the top four with Michigan knocking

With one week to go until the first College Football Playoff Rankings release, we are here to predict what the top 25 will look like when the CFP Selection Committee makes its announcement Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m. ET. It is a warmup act for the warmup act, which are the CFP Rankings releases before the final one in early December.

Note: Predictions in this post are based only on results to this point, so they do not reflect the final forecast for the playoff, which can be found here.

In this space, we will try to emphasize the same criteria the committee uses. That will be difficult because, as we have learned, the committee can be all over the map. Sometimes, it decides that head-to-head matters; sometimes, it doesn't. Sometimes, strength of schedule matters; sometimes, it doesn't. Sometimes, relative dominance matters; sometimes, it doesn't. Sometimes it's about game control -- whatever that is -- or recency bias or ... ah, you get the idea.

What we have learned is that this process is highly subjective. It is much more subjective than the process that the basketball committee uses, which is what the football committee was modeled after. With all of that in mind, here is what I think the top 25 would look like if it was released this week.

College Football Playoff Rankings prediction
1
The Crimson Tide have utterly dominated a less-than-stellar schedule to this point.  It's been so bad that the question I am most often asked is just how big the gap is between them and the rest of college football.  We will see. The tougher games are coming.
2
Speaking of tougher games coming, here is Alabama's next opponent. The Tigers and Tide have a week off before facing each other.  Every opponent LSU has played this far has a record above .500, and their only loss came at Florida, which is why I have them ahead of the other unbeaten teams.    
3
I have Clemson ahead of the Irish because they have been the more dominant team so far. That dominance was best on display last week against previously unbeaten NC State ...
4
... however, you could argue that Notre Dame has played a tougher schedule than Clemson. The Irish have the best win of any of the top teams, which came in the season opener against Michigan. Notre Dame was just scratching by until changing quarterbacks.    
5
That loss to Notre Dame aside, the Wolverines have been very good, including a 25-point win over Wisconsin and last week's victory at Michigan State. They look every bit like the best team in the Big Ten at the moment.    
6
The season got off to a rough start with a loss to Maryland, but the Longhorns have played very well since, knocking off USC and Oklahoma, the latter of which puts them in the driver's seat in the Big 12.    
7
The Bulldogs only have one loss, but that loss came to the best team they have played by far.  LSU smoked them by 20 points. The second-best team they have played is Missouri? South Carolina? That changes this week when Georgia plays Florida.    
8
The Sooners are hoping a change in defensive coordinator provides a spark for that unit. Oklahoma does not have to be great defensively to win because its offense is strong enough to carry most days.    
9
The Wildcats have been one of the more pleasant surprises. They are more of a run and defend kind of team than we are used to seeing in college football these days, but it is working for them. We will see if it works at Missouri this week.    
10
The Gators are the only team to beat LSU, but they lost to Kentucky at home. They are part of a three-way tie at the top of the SEC East with the Wildcats and Georgia, which begins to get sorted out on Saturday.    
11
Purdue dominated the previously unbeaten Buckeyes on Saturday night, putting Ohio State's playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. OSU has already beaten Penn State and TCU and has games left with both Michigan schools.    
12
The Aggies are the top rated two-loss team on that list in part because they came at the hands of Clemson and Alabama. Texas A&M nearly took down the Tigers at home, and their 22-point margin of defeat to the Crimson Tide is the closest anyone has come to them all season. The Aggies also beat Kentucky.    
13
The Cougars are the last hope for the Pac-12 to get a team in the playoff, but even those hopes are slim. Their lone loss came to USC, and if they finish 12-1, Wazzu will have defeated Washington, Stanford, Utah and Oregon.  Their nonconference schedule is dreadful though.    
14
The Huskies playoff hopes died at Autzen stadium and the Auburn loss does not look as good as they might have hoped. Washington is still in a good position to win the league now that the Ducks picked up a second loss.    
15
Let the debate begin anew. The Knights are on a 20-game winning streak, although only the last seven are relevant for this season. None of those seven teams have a record above .500, and that is why UCF has no realistic shot at the playoff.    
16
I was high on the Utes to start the season, and they are starting to look like the team I thought they would be. Losses to the Washington schools will keep them out of the playoff, but Utah was impressive in wins at Stanford and most recently against USC.    
17
The Hawkeyes are part of a four-team pileup atop the Big Ten West, and they are the only one of those teams with just one loss overall. Unfortunately, that came to Wisconsin at home, which means Iowa cannot win a tiebreaker with only the Badgers.    
18
The Mountaineers were well-positioned to make a playoff run before a loss at Iowa State. They do have a win over Texas Tech but have yet to play either Texas or Oklahoma.    
19
Stanford has played a tougher schedule that most of the teams near the bottom of these rankings but looked bad in losses to Notre Dame and Utah. The Cardinal have some nice wins, though, including over USC, Oregon and Mountain West co-leader San Diego State.
20
The Ducks have a big win over Washington but lost at Wazzu and home to Stanford.  They also played the worst nonconference schedule of any team thought to have a shot at playoff contention.    
21
Wisconsin did not look great in the loss at Michigan, but the one they will regret came at home to BYU.  Other than the win over Iowa, there isn't much to write home about.    
22
The Wolfpack stormed out to a 5-0 start including wins over BC and Virginia. Clemson brought them crashing back to earth in a 41-7 loss last week.  They had a game against West Virginia canceled by the hurricane, which hurts whichever team would have won.    
23
The Trojans have had a tough schedule, but they have not been able to get that big win on the road. USC did beat Washington State and Colorado at home, though. The Trojans will have to make things work with their third string quarterback for now as the top two signal callers are injured.    
24
It seems like the Nittany Lions are still suffering from the gut punch Ohio State gave them three games ago. The followed up that defeat with an upset loss at home to Michigan State and a near-disaster at Indiana. Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin are next, so PSU better get its act together quickly.    
25
I never thought I'd have Virginia here before the season, but the Cavaliers have done a good job so far. They have losses at Indiana and NC State but won at Duke and beat Miami at home.    
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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