CBS Sports graphic

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.

College Football Playoff Rankings projection
Alabama had last week's game at LSU postponed due to COVID-19 issues with LSU. This will be a recurring theme in this week's rankings. The Crimson Tide is scheduled to host Kentucky on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish were the only team in last week's top five to take the field. Concerns about a letdown following the win over Clemson were unfounded as Notre Dame handled Boston College easily. The Irish have a scheduled week off before taking on North Carolina.
Ohio State also had an unscheduled off week due to the cancellation of the game at Maryland. That is a shame since the Terrapins are 2-1 and would have their first game against a team with a winning record. The Buckeyes host surging Indiana with first place in the Big Ten East at stake.
The Tigers had a scheduled week off, which I am sure they spent licking their wounds and preparing for this week's game at Florida State. Clemson is more than a four-touchdown favorite against the Seminoles, which are in some disarray. Trevor Lawrence is expected to return at quarterback for the Tigers.
The Aggies have not been able to add to their case for the CFP lately due to COVID-19 issues within the team. Texas A&M will sit out for the second consecutive week.
Florida is looking as good as anyone right now. The Gators demolished Arkansas 63-35, which is the Razorbacks' worst defeat of the season. Unfortunately, Texas A&M is a ceiling for Florida at the moment. The committee does take head-to-head to heart most of the time.
The Badgers missed two games, but you wouldn't know it from the 35-7 pounding of moribund Michigan. A real battle awaits this week as they take on fellow unbeaten Northwestern.
The Hurricanes "upset" Virginia Tech last Saturday, 25-24, in another close win. Miami was an underdog to the Hokies. Monday, it was announced that the Hurricanes will be off the next two weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the team.
The Bearcats took care of East Carolina easily, as expected. They are done playing at home in the regular season. This week, their defense will be strongly tested at UCF.
The Wildcats survived a battle of unbeatens at Purdue last Saturday, and they are getting ready for another. They will battle 2-0 Wisconsin for the lead in the Big Ten West this weekend. The last time Northwestern was 4-0 in Big Ten play, coach Pat Fitzgerald was a linebacker for the Wildcats.
The Ducks got off to a slow start at Washington State but came back for what turned out to be a comfortable win. So far, Oregon has been able to avoid the COVID-19 problems that have affected others in the Pac-12. That is important because it is already scheduled to play at least two fewer games than any other contenders.
BYU had a scheduled week off and only has two games left on its schedule. The Cougars take on FCS newbie North Alabama this week, then have two weeks off before hosting San Diego State to end the regular season.
The Hoosiers keep on rolling. They beat Michigan State 24-0 to move to 4-0 on the season. IU's first four opponents have a total of three wins, and only one of those came against a team outside of that group (Michigan over Minnesota). The Hoosiers get a chance to make a huge statement this week at Ohio State, not to mention sit alone at the top of the division.
Last week was also an off week for the Cowboys, who will face Oklahoma in Bedlam this Saturday. These two teams are among five that are within a game of first place in the Big 12, so a lot is at stake in the conference race.
The Trojans needed another late rally to secure a victory, this time at Arizona. USC is scheduled travel to division contender Utah, which has seen its season debut delayed due to COVID-19.
Georgia's game at Missouri was one of four SEC game postponed last week. The Bulldogs were shellacked by Florida two weeks ago and will face Mississippi State this Saturday looking to get back on track.
The Chanticleers also had their game postponed this week, but that would have simply been an appetizer for the biggest game in the Sun Belt so far this season. CCU hosts Appalachian State with first place in the division on the line.
The Thundering Herd is now 7-0 after a 42-14 win over Middle Tennessee State. This week's game with Charlotte has been postponed and may not be rescheduled.
The Cyclones are back in action this week with a home game against Kansas State. ISU is tied in the loss column with Oklahoma State atop the Big 12 standings, but that Cyclone loss came to the Cowboys.
Tulsa seems to be in tight games every time out. Four of its five games have been decided by single-digit margins, including a 28-24 win over SMU on Saturday. The Golden Hurricane also have a win at UCF. They join Cincinnati as the only undefeated teams in AAC play.
The Ragin' Cajuns shocked college football with an opening-weekend win at Iowa State. They also have a win at UAB outside the league. Only Coastal Carolina has defeated them so far this season.
Oklahoma will end up regretting their disappointing start to the season. Opening losses in Big 12 play to Kansas State and Iowa State have not eliminated the Sooners from the conference title chase, but they were out of the CFP hunt early. Lately, they have been playing like we all thought they would all along.
The Flames handled Western Carolina easily last week. Coach Hugh Freeze is having his name bandied about as a possible replacement for Will Muschamp at South Carolina, but that is a problem for another day. Liberty will look to pick up a second road win against a middle of the ACC team this Saturday when the Flames travel to NC State.
The Longhorns are the hunt for a shot at the Big 12 title and have a win over Oklahoma State. Texas still has two games left with other contenders, including a home matchup with Iowa State. First, though, the Longhorns need to take care of Kansas.
The Mustangs fell to the bottom of the top 25 this week after a tough loss at Tulsa. Their chances to impress are now gone, along with much of a chance to win the AAC.