Entering championship weekend, the top eight teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings consisted of four undefeated teams and four with a single loss. Three of those one-loss teams had fallen to one of the other teams in the top eight. That is a closely bunched group of teams.

So, when No. 8 beats No. 1, it is less of a surprise than such an event might normally be. Alabama provided the only upset of Championship Week among the top teams by beating Georgia, but it still may not be enough for a spot in the College Football Playoff. 

Remember, these rankings do not act like a traditional 25 poll where, as long as a team keeps winning, it is unlikely to get passed. Each set of CFP Rankings gets tossed after it is announced with teams reevaluated from scratch every week.

Before we get to the predicted rankings themselves, here's a refresher listing some of key points the committee members consider when deciding a team's ranking beyond their on-field record:

  • Strength of schedule
  • Conference championships (once decided)
  • Head-to-head
  • Results vs. common opponents
  • Results vs. ranked opponents

Thankfully, the committee's definition of "ranked opponents" is different than what you're used to seeing. The rankings they use are the prior week's CFP Rankings. They do not consider where teams are ranked in the CFP, AP Top 25, etc. when the games are played. Using game-time rankings is the most worthless way to determine "ranked opponents;" in fact, the committee specifically forbids the use of any poll that has a preseason starting point.

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Notice that "game control" is not listed among the criteria. It never has been considered despite the term (or similar concepts) coming out of the mouth of past committee chairmen. (The CFP does not have a way to measure "game control" -- I've seen the data the committee uses -- but let's not kid ourselves: They do talk about it.) And really, who cares how you get to the win as long as you get there?

With all that in mind, here is how I believe the CFP Rankings will look Sunday. Remember: This is not necessarily how I would vote if I were on the committee. I am merely predicting what they will do on Selection Sunday.

Check out Jerry Palm's bowl projections before Selection Sunday.

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College Football Playoff Rankings prediction

The Wolverines won their third straight Big Ten title by shutting out Iowa, 26-0. I expect there could be some debate over which team should be No. 1 overall, but the committee has liked Michigan all year in large part due to the dominance of almost all of its wins. Last week: 2
Washington beat Oregon by 3 points for the second time this season. The committee has been slow to warm up to the Huskies in part because most of their wins are close. Their last nine victories came by a margin of 10 points or fewer. Last week: 3
Florida State took care of business by beating Louisville for the ACC championship. The committee has never left an undefeated Power Five champion out of the playoff, and despite the Seminoles' quarterback situation, I do not expect them to do so now. Last week: 4
If Texas finishes here, it will become the first team to sit beyond the top six in the penultimate rankings and go on to compete in the playoff. The Longhorns routed Oklahoma State jumping above Georgia (loss), Ohio State (inactive) and Oregon (loss) while staying ahead of Alabama (Week 2 victory). Last week: 7
Alabama ended Georgia's 29-game winning streak and captured the SEC title but has Texas as a ceiling it has not been able to crack. The Longhorns' 10-point road victory over the Crimson Tide on Sept. 9 has been respected by the committee all season, and there is no reason to believe that will change that in the final rankings.  I know it seems odd not to have an SEC team in the CFP, but being in the SEC is not criteria. Last week: 8
The Bulldogs saw their shot at a third consecutive title go by the wayside in the loss to Alabama.  Just like Texas has been a ceiling for the Tide, Alabama is now one for Georgia.  The Dawgs may be the two-time reigning champs, but what they did the last two seasons is not criteria for this one. Last week: 1
Did not play. Last week: 5
The Ducks came up short again against Washington, this time at a neutral site. Oregon has been a favorite of the committee in large part because it put up big margins. Only two of its wins this season were by fewer than 14 points. Last week: 6
Did not play. Last week: 9
Did not play. Last week: 10
Did not play. Last week: 11
Did not play. Last week: 12
Did not play. Last week: 13
The Cardinals just could not figure out how to unlock the Florida State defense in the loss to the Seminoles in the ACC title game. Louisville will be headed to the Orange Bowl as the highest-rated ACC team available. Last week: 14
Did not play. Last week: 15
The Hawkeyes were shut out by Michigan in the Big Ten title game. It was the second time this season they failed to score. Still, 10 wins will get them a pretty good bowl game. Last week: 16
Did not play. Last week: 17
The Cowboys were in over their heads against Texas in a 49-21 loss. They did well this season just to get to the Big 12 title game. Last week: 18
Did not play. Last week: 19
Did not play. Last week: 20
Did not play. Last week: 21
Did not play. Last week: 23
The Flames won the Conference USA title 49-35 over New Mexico State on Friday night to cap off a 13-0 regular season.  With SMU knocking off Tulane, I expect the Flames to make their first appearance in the New Year's Six as the Group of Five representative. Last week: 24
Did not play. Last week: 24
The committee could decide to go with SMU for that Group of Five spot, but I think two losses will be one too many. Still, the win at Tulane for the AAC championship extended their winning streak to nine games. Last week: NR

Check out Jerry Palm's bowl projections before Selection Sunday.