The second College Football Playoff Rankings will be released late Tuesday night, but 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 with only a few weeks left in the 2019 season. We are here to predict what the top 25 will look like this evening.
It is a warmup act for the warmup act, which are all of the CFP Rankings releases before the final one following conference championship Saturday. In this space, we 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 how the CFP Rankings would likely look if the committee released it this evening.
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 Tigers finally got the elephant off their back, ending an eight-game losing streak to Alabama with a 46-41 win in Tuscaloosa. That should be enough to push LSU past Ohio State, for now. Despite my bowl projection, which has LSU as the No. 1 seed, it is no given that the Tigers end up ahead of the Buckeyes if both win out. Last week: 2|
|I do not know what Maryland did to irritate Ohio State, but the Buckeyes took something out on the Terrapins. They hung 76 on the Terps, which has been pummeled four times in their last five games. Playing Maryland did not help Ohio State's strength of schedule. Playing Rutgers this week will do some more damage to it. Last week: 1|
|See, Clemson fans. All it took was a little patience. The Tigers will be back in the top four this week after whooping NC State, 55-10. They may have been looking forward to playing a team in the current rankings this week, but Wake Forest lost to Virginia Tech and should drop out. Clemson is a 32-point favorite against the Demon Deacons, which hold the second-best record in the ACC. The Tigers have already clinched a spot in the ACC title game. Last week: 5|
|Georgia shut out Missouri 27-0 last week and should move into the top four for now. They have two wins over teams in the rankings and a better schedule than Alabama, which I believe will mitigate the loss to South Carolina. Last week: 6|
|It will be interesting to see how the committee treats the loss to LSU, but we may get to the end of the season with that loss being the best thing the committee can say about Alabama. It could be that the Crimson Tide's best win is over an Auburn team that could finish 8-4. Last week: 3|
|Penn State came out flat in the first half against Minnesota and paid for it with a 31-26 road loss. The Nittany Lions have still played a good schedule and have two quality wins, so I do not think they will fall too far this week. Last week: 4|
|The Ducks had a week off to get ready for Arizona. A win by Oregon or a loss by Oregon State to Arizona State will clinch the Pac-12 North for the Ducks. Last week: 7|
|The Golden Gophers outplayed and outcoached Penn State in winning their biggest game in nearly 60 years. Minnesota fans are unlikely to be pleased if this prediction is correct and the Gophers are behind the Nittany Lions, but teams are judged on their entire season, not just one game. Their resumes are not close enough yet for the head-to-head result to rule the day. Last week: 17|
|Like Oregon, the Utes were also off this past weekend. On Saturday, Utah will host the only other team that controls its own fate in the Pac-12 South. That team is UCLA. I never thought I would be writing that sentence a month ago. Last week: 8|
|The Sooners nearly gagged away a 21-point, fourth-quarter lead to Iowa State but stopped a two-point conversion attempt and escaped with a 42-41 win on Saturday. The big showdown in the Big 12 at Baylor is next. Last week: 9|
|The Gators had no trouble with Vanderbilt in a 56-0 win. It's not a big enough win to move up with Minnesota jumping into the top 10, but it will not hurt them either even though Vandy is having a rough year. Last week: 10|
|The Tigers were off and probably enjoyed watching Alabama get beat this weekend. They have their own problems though. Georgia visits this Saturday and the Tigers can end the Bulldogs' playoff hopes with a win. Last week: 11|
|Baylor had another close call this week, beating TCU 29-23 in three overtimes. That makes two nail-biters in a row following a close call against West Virginia. That level of play will not be enough against the Sooners this Saturday. The Bears can afford to lose this game and still make the Big 12 title game, but they need to be 13-0 to make the playoff. Last week: 12|
|The Badgers grounded out a 24-22 win over Iowa with "grounded" being the operative word. Running back Jonathan Taylor ran for 250 yards against the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin plays Nebraska this week while hoping that Iowa hands Minnesota its first loss and keeps the Badgers' West division title hopes alive. Last week: 13|
|Like Auburn, the Wolverines were off this week and likely enjoyed watching their rival get beat. Unlike Auburn, Michigan will get its shot at its rival right away. Michigan State, fresh off blowing a 28-3 lead to Illinois, visits the Big House on Saturday. Last week: 14|
|The Irish handled Duke the way you would expect. They host Navy this week, which should still be in the CFP Rankings as well. Last week: 15|
|The Bearcats pummeled UConn 48-3 on Saturday. Thanks to a couple of losses by teams ahead of them in the rankings this week, Cincinnati should get closer to its proper ranking on Tuesday night. Last week: 20|
|The Tigers had a well-timed week off after the big win over SMU. They are at Houston on Saturday and still on a collision course with Cincinnati at the end of the regular season -- and maybe the conference championship as well. Last week: 21|
|The Broncos needed overtime to get by Wyoming on Saturday. It is possible Boise State will be lower than this because of that result but not much. Boise hosts New Mexico on Saturday. Last week: 22|
|The Longhorns were the team I missed in last week's projection. Oklahoma State was selected for the top 25 instead, despite the Longhorns' victory over the Cowboys earlier in the season. As I have said before, though, head-to-head isn't everything. A victory over Kansas State should give a Texas a push into the top 25 this week. Last week: NR|
|Iowa's loss at Wisconsin is not all that damaging to the Hawkeyes' resume ,and they should remain in the rankings. Iowa gets a shot at undefeated Minnesota on Saturday as they play for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. Last week: 18|
|The Cowboys were a bit of a surprise selection last week and had the entire week off to celebrate. Last week: 23|
|The Wildcats' three-game winning streak is over following a 27-24 loss at Texas. That should not be enough to drop them from the rankings entirely. Last week: 16|
|SMU won a shootout with East Carolina, 59-51. The Mustangs will be off this week getting ready to meet Navy. Last week: 25|
|The Midshipmen were off last week and will make the trip to South Bend, Indiana, for their annual rivalry game with the Fighting Irish. Since breaking Notre Dame's 43-game winning streak in this series in 2007, Navy is 4-8 against the Irish. Last week: 24|