Every week ahead of the College Football Playoff Rankings release, we will be predicting what the top 25 will look like when the CFP Selection Committee makes its announcement Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. It is a warmup act for the warmup act, which are the CFP Rankings releases before the final one.
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.
Here, 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 will look like this week.
|The Crimson Tide played Mercer. That alone is reason enough to move them down the rankings, but I do not think it will happen. Auburn figures to be a tougher test this week. (1)|
|Miami came out flat against Virginia and trailed by 14 in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes scored the last 30 points for a deceptive 44-28 win. The fact that every good thing Miami has done this year has come at home will probably keep it below Bama. (3)|
|Clemson played The Citadel last week. That alone is enough to move them down the rankings, and this time, I think it will happen. (2)|
|Part of the reason I do not think Clemson will move down any farther is that the Sooners played Kansas, which may actually be worse than The Citadel. OU had no choice though. That's a conference game. (4)|
|The Badgers will knock a team out of the CFP Rankings for the second week in a row. Michigan is the victim this time, a 24-10 loser at Wisconsin in the only game that really mattered last week. The Badgers booted Iowa from the previous rankings. Still, I do not think this will move Wisconsin up. (5)|
|Auburn played Louisiana-Monroe last week. Hey, that is at least a FBS team. Monroe gave the Tigers fits in the first half, too, but Auburn pulled away for an easy win. (6)|
|The Bulldogs took out some frustration on Kentucky in their final SEC game of the season. Georgia has a better record, better schedule and better collection of wins than Auburn, but that was true last week also. (7)|
|The Irish bounced back from last week's disappointing performance to beat Navy. That should be enough to hold this spot. (8)|
|Like many of the teams above them on this list, Ohio State had a glorified scrimmage this week. And like Oklahoma, at least it was a conference game. (9)|
|The Nittany Lions put another nail in Nebraska coach Mike Riley's coffin with a 56-44 win. There is no reason to expect movement one way or the other for PSU, but last week's jump of USC was unexpected as well. (10)|
|The Trojans bounced UCLA and bounced Bruins coach Jim Mora out of his job. USC will finally get a bye week, which comes before the Pac-12 title game. (11)|
|TCU handled Texas Tech pretty comfortably and is a win over Baylor away from playing for the Big 12 title. (12)|
|Unlike many of the teams above the Cougars on this list, they did not just take a de facto week off -- they took an actual week off. (14)|
|UCF took care of UConn and will play South Florida for a division title and spot in the AAC title game against Memphis. (15)|
|The Bulldogs waited until the very end to pull out a win at Arkansas. I do not think UCF will get jumped by a three-loss team, so this is the ceiling for them for now. (16)|
|The Spartans were not great, but they were good enough to beat Maryland 17-7 on senior day in East Lansing. (17)|
|Washington got a gift of a timeout from Utah and used it to set up a game winning field goal at the buzzer to win 33-30. The Huskies are so far down in these rankings because that was one of their best wins of the season. (18)|
|The Cowboys have three pretty decent road wins but cannot seem to defend their home turf. The loss to Kansas State drops OSU to 2-3 at home this season. (13)|
|LSU won at Tennessee 30-10 to spoil Brady Hoke's debut as the Volunteers interim head coach. The Tigers only win this season over a team currently above .500 was the upset of Auburn. (20)|
|The Tigers beat SMU by a basketball-sounding score of 66-45. Of course, when those two do play basketball, that score will more likely be reversed. (21)|
|The Wildcats are finishing the season strong. They picked up their sixth straight win in a 39-0 skunking of the Minnesota. (22)|
|The Cardinal kept hold of The Axe for the eighth straight year in a 17-14 win over Cal. They have a chance to make a strong move up when they host Notre Dame. (23)|
|The Broncos debuted in the rankings last week and should move up a spot after grounding Air Force. (24)|
|The Cyclones dropped out of the rankings after a loss at home to Oklahoma State, but there should be room for a team with wins over two highly ranked opponents. (NR)|
|The Demon Deacons have played eight games against teams with winning records and won five of them. Most recently, the beat NC State at home. Only a home loss to Florida State blemishes their resume. (NR)|