There are three weeks left in the 2021 college football season, and the third edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings released on Tuesday night set the tone for the stretch run. The top of the rankings remained unchanged with Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Michigan and Michigan State taking the top seven sports, respectively.
After that, there was a bit of a shakeup as Oklahoma's loss to No. 11 Baylor knocked the Sooners all the way down to the No. 13 spot. Meanwhile, No. 16 Texas A&M's loss to No. 12 Ole Miss knocked the Aggies down five spots.
Where did the committee get it right? Where did it make mistakes? Let's dissect the latest CFP Rankings.
Overrated: Notre Dame
The signature win for the Fighting Irish is over a three-loss Wisconsin team that, for some reason, the committee thinks is the 15th-best team in the country. After that, where's the resume boost coming from? North Carolina? Purdue?
No. 9 Oklahoma State also has only one blemish on its resume and has a 10-point win over Baylor. The loss? OK, yes, falling to unranked Iowa State is worse than the Irish's loss to Cincinnati. But the quality of a team's losses, provided they aren't totally egregious, shouldn't cancel out quality wins.
Now let's take a look at No. 10 Wake Forest. No, they don't have the brand recognition of Notre Dame (or Oklahoma State, for that matter), but they have one of the best offenses in the game and topped No. 20 NC State last week. If you put Notre Dame uniforms on Wake Forest's team, the committee would vault the Demon Deacons up two spots without batting an eye.
Notre Dame is getting better. There's no doubt about that. But Oklahoma State and Wake Forest have been more complete teams this season.
Underrated: Texas A&M
The three-loss Aggies are behind three-loss Wisconsin, which has one good win over No. 17 Iowa, two top-10 losses and another loss to an unranked Penn State team. All three of the Aggies' losses are to top-25 teams and it owns a big win over Alabama -- the second-ranked team in the nation.
That's the only way that you can compare the two teams. Other than their resumes, they're pretty much the same team. Both are lights out on defense and have offenses that are leave a little bit to be desired.
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Alabama has been at No. 2 all three weeks because of one thing and one thing only: brand recognition. If you've paid close attention, you'd know that Alabama's offensive line has been a constant problem which has directly led to massive issues in the running game.
The Tide rank 10th in the SEC in rushing yards per attempt at 4.33, and that number drops all the way down to 3.76 when you only count conference games. Two weeks ago in a 20-14 win over LSU, it had just 6 yards on the ground. That LSU team gave up 265 rushing yards to Ole Miss, 138 to Florida and 330 to Kentucky in its previous three games.
Flaws are flaws at this point of the season, and it's clear that the Crimson Tide are one-dimensional by necessity not choice. A team like Ohio State, on the other hand, has consistently worked to fix its flaws and is playing at an elite level going into the stretch run.
The 24th-ranked Cougars have won nine straight games, which included a win over a pretty good SMU team. They've scored 31 or more points in their last six games and have only been held under 30 twice.
Utah, however, is one spot ahead of them. The Utes have dropped three games, including one to four-loss Oregon State. I love the Cinderella story of No. 22 UTSA, but a one-loss AAC team should be above an undefeated Conference USA team -- even at this point of the season.
The good news for the AAC team is that, even if Houston is underrated a little bit, it'll still be a quality data point for Cincinnati if the Bearcats beat the Cougars in the AAC Championship Game.