As we have for the past several weeks, including last week for the second College Football Playoff Rankings release, we are predicting what the top 25 will look like Tuesday night.
Here, 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 record 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 I think the top 25 will look this week.
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.
1. Alabama (Last week: 1): The Crimson Tide are now the last major undefeated team. That probably won't change this week as the SEC takes its annual strength-of-schedule-killing sabbatical.
2. Ohio State (5): Don't let this ranking, its second consecutive 62-3 win, and especially a Michigan loss fool you, it was a bad weekend for the Buckeyes. Their chances of winning the Big Ten dropped dramatically.
3. Clemson (2): The Tigers brought back the old definition of "Clemsoning" for a week. Lucky for them, they were not the only ones shooting themselves in the foot.
4. Michigan (3): The Wolverines played a team with a pulse away from home for the first time. They are now 0-1 in those situations.
7. Washington (4): The Huskies could be ahead of Wisconsin, but there is a significant strength of schedule gap and they lost at home to a team ranked behind them.
8. Penn State (10): The Nittany Lions might also be ahead of Washington if not for the loss at Pitt. They were the big winner on Saturday, though. Michigan's loss gives them hope for a shot at a Big Ten title.
10. Colorado (12): The Buffaloes are riding a strong schedule to this spot.
11. USC (20): The Trojans are hot and coming off an impressive win over formerly undefeated Washington on the road. They could be higher. One of their earlier wins was over Colorado
13. West Virginia (16): The Mountaineers can't get ahead of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys beating them in Stillwater, Oklahoma, apparently is a bigger factor than losing to Central Michigan in Stillwater.
14. Utah (15): The Utes keep on cruising along and looking toward a possible divisional winner-take-all game at Colorado in a couple of weeks.
16. Florida State (18): The Seminoles should be in line for a pretty good bowl game if they can win out.
17. Texas A&M (8): The Aggies got swept by the state of Mississippi the last couple of weeks. Despite that, TAMU could still land in the Sugar Bowl, but it will have to step up its game to do that.
19. Western Michigan (21): The Broncos are in a good place at the moment as the top-rated Group of Five conference leader. It will be interesting to see if they can hold off a one-loss Mountain West champion should one emerge.
20. Boise State (22): The Broncos are now part of a three-way tie atop the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with New Mexico and Wyoming. That is a tiebreaker the Broncos would win, but there is a long way to go.
21. Washington State (23): The Cougars are now the leader in the Pac-12 North after Washington's loss.
24. Stanford (NR): Hey! Look who's back! Maybe! Stanford has quietly strung three wins in a row together. It's been quiet because the opponents haven't been that great, but the Cardinal still has a good overall schedule.
25. Florida (NR): The Gators beat up South Carolina and only a road game -- that was supposed to be a home game -- at LSU stands between Florida and a division crown.