Take a good look at the latest sets of college football rankings. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee sure will. That's been proven. The committee's first rankings (debuting Tuesday) have been so similar to the human polls over the years that it resembles a sort of intellectual plagiarism.
Take last year. The CFP matched the AP Top 25 in 14 of the top 15 ranked teams. Six of them the CFP had in the exact same place in the polls as AP voters. Just for grins, we looked back and compared how the Power Rankings stacked up in 2019. The committee matched us on four exact poll positions. So consider this week an appetizer for Tuesday night.
This is especially applicable this week because the first CFP Rankings are a template for the rest of the season. Any movement of teams will be judged in relation to Tuesday's initial rankings.
Just don't get too excited about the final result. Barely half of the teams in the first CFP Rankings (13 of 24, 54.2%) actually it to the playoff. Clemson has been the surest thing, making the playoff all four times it appeared in a season's first CFP Rankings. (Alabama is the second-best bet, going four for five).
As we head to Week 13, this much is certain:
No determination has been made whether there will be a minimum amount of games needed to qualify for the CFP. That means a lot in this COVID-19 impacted season. There still exists the possibility of a 7-0 Pac-12 champion being compared to a 10-1 second team from the ACC or SEC. That's a difference of four games. As it stands, the committee will use the ol' "eye test" to sort 'em out as usual.
The Big 12 is unofficially out of the playoff. Oklahoma State (5-2) was the league's best hope but lost by four touchdowns at Oklahoma (6-2) in Bedlam. That means every team in the league has at least two losses, including first-place Iowa State (6-2). Only once since the BCS started in 1998 has a two-loss team played for a championship (LSU won it all in 2007). There have been no two-loss teams in the CFP era.
Cincinnati (8-0) has the best chance of any Group of Five team to get in the playoff in the CFP era. That's because, with the prospect of an 11-0 season, the Bearcats would be in the minority playing that many games in 2020. Not to be ignored, Cincinnati faces the prospect of playing six teams that have spent at least two weeks in the AP Top 25. The Bearcats don't have a signature nonconference win this season, but really, who does?
Alabama is likely to appear in the top four of first CFP Rankings for the sixth consecutive year. That would be an ongoing record.
Only 12 teams have played in the 24 spots during six years of the CFP. The "newbie" last year was national champion LSU.
How will this week's rankings factor into those four teams in 2020? Let's read on with this week's Power Rankings.
|Idle. Whatever it means, if Clemson doesn't make up its game with Florida State, the Tigers will play one fewer game than the Fighting Irish. Keep that in mind with these teams possibly playing twice more. North Carolina (on Friday) has the firepower to make ND squirm.||--||10-2|
|Remember the Crimson Tide? They didn't let you forget after not playing for 21 days. Kentucky paid the price with one of the worst losses in its history, 63-3. Mac Jones did Mac Jones things throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Battle returned a pick six 45 yards. Now, onward to the Iron Bowl.||--||13-0|
|There are profound defensive issues, especially in the secondary. It seemed, at one point during a 42-35 win over Indiana, Michael Penix Jr. could do whatever he wanted throwing verticals. Preseason All-American corner Shaun Wade wasn't great, but he was good enough to return a pick six that may have been the difference in the game.||--||7-1|
|Idle. For the first time this season, a game was postponed on the day it was supposed to be played. Clemson types were incensed that Florida State wouldn't play after a Tigers player tested positive on Friday. That player had tested negative during the week and was immediately isolated. There's no assurance the game will be made up.||--||10-2|
|Bulletin! For the first time this season, Kyle Trask threw less than four touchdown passes in a game. OK, it was three against Vanderbilt in a 38-17 win. Dan Mullen called it "ho hum." He's right. It's hard to get excited about playing in Vanderbilt Stadium even when fans are allowed.||--||8-4|
|This was the best of the Bearcats. Falling behind 14-3 at UCF, they roared back for a 36-33 win that kept playoff hopes alive. The defense played its part, holding the Knights to 16 points in the second half. Luke Fickell is positioning himself for a Power Five job while the AAC is positioning itself as a Power Six conference.||--||9-1|
|The Cougars became the nation's winningest team (9-0) with an easy 66-14 win over North Alabama. BYU scored on all six of its first-half possessions. Zach Wilson tossed four more touchdown passes. "That's having fun with your friends, man," center James Empey said. It may not last much longer. The Cougars have one game left, next month against San Diego State.||1||11-1|
|How's this for contact tracing? UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson couldn't play because of COVID-19 precautions. His backup, Chase Griffin, threw a wounded duck as he was hit on the last play of the first half. Oregon's Jordan Happle returned the pick 58 yards for a touchdown. That gave Ducks a lead they never gave up in a 38-35 win. If not for the coronavirus ...?||2||4-3|
|Idle. The Aggies will have gone 21 days between games when they play a suddenly dangerous LSU on Saturday. The Tennessee game has been rescheduled for Dec. 12. Last Saturday's Ole Miss game hasn't been rescheduled yet for Dec. 19. If not, the Aggies will only play nine. That's potentially a huge factor in the playoff race.||--||9-1|
|Get the Wildcats out of your mouth. Northwestern, motivated by negative comments from Joey Galloway, took it out on Wisconsin, 17-7. The Wildcats are 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1996, Pat Fitzgerald's senior year.||14||7-2|
|I want to play for Tom Allen after watching his postgame speech following a bitter 42-35 loss to Ohio State. Penix had a career day (491 yards, five TDs), but it wasn't enough. Ohio State choked off. Indiana gave up too many big plays to Justin Fields, who was intercepted three times as part of five OSU turnovers.||--||6-2|
|Water is wet, the sky is blue, and Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State in Bedlam. The Sooners won their fourth in a row and moved into second place in the Big 12 behind Iowa State. They have the tiebreaker against the two teams immediately below them -- Texas and Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy dropped to 2-14 against the Sooners.||2||9-2|
|JT Daniels, where have you been all season? The USC transfer quarterback was the difference in beating a beaten-down Mississippi State, 31-24. Daniels threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns in his first action in 15 months. The Dawgs have a chance now that they have a quarterback, just not this season.||1||8-2|
|Idle. The Hurricanes won't play again until Dec. 5. By then, it will be 21 days between games. At 7-1, Miami is still in the running for the ACC Championship Game but needs some help. It gets Wake Forest, North Carolina and Georgia Tech down the stretch.||1||8-3|
|The Big 12's last, best hope for the CFP collapsed under the weight of Bedlam. The Cowboys went the last 31 ½ minutes without scoring and were shut out in the second half of a 41-13 loss to Oklahoma. The Sooners have never lost a Bedlam game in which they have scored at least 35 points.||8||8-3|
|Iowa State football has seldom been hotter after a 45-0 over Kansas State. The Cyclones sit atop the Big 12 with their best conference record in history (6-1). Coach Matt Campbell has developed a culture that has drawn notice from bigger, better programs. The last, best win for the Clones was 66-10 over one Patrick Mahomes and Texas Tech in 2016.||3||9-3|
|Down 17-9 at home to Appalachian State, the Chanticleers roared back with a 25-6 run to win 34-23. Still unbeaten, Coastal is a game away from clinching the Sun Belt East. There's going to be some pressure for South Carolina AD Ray Tanner to take a long, hard look at Coastal coach Jamey Chadwell.||--||11-1|
|Third-string quarterback Davis Brin pulled off one of the biggest comebacks of the season. Down 14-0, the Golden Hurricane tied it in regulation on a Hail Mary pass at the buzzer. Linebacker Zaven Collins returned a pick six in double overtime for a 30-24 win. Tulsa is 5-1 enduring combined layoffs of 34 days.||3||6-3|
|Idle. Prepping for Notre Dame in what should be one of the best games of the year. The ACC's No. 1 offense (UNC) against the conference's No. 1 defense (ND). North Carolina must win to stay in the championship game race.||3||8-4|
|Idle. You can see an undefeated season from here. Following another bye week due to COVID-19, the Thundering Herd don't play again until Dec. 5 with Rice and FIU. Doc Holliday is a national coach of the year candidate playing a freshman quarterback (Grant Wells) and scouring Florida and Georgia for 36 of his players. Marshall clinches the Conference USA East this week if FAU loses to Middle Tennessee.||2||7-3|
|If the cameras go out, does a game really happen? ESPN's cameras dropped during the second half of Saturday's 33-17 win at Utah. Electronic sanity eventually reigned. The Trojans are 3-0 having beaten three teams in their season openers. No excuses. USC is averaging 31.7 points per game and showed some grit at Utah, a place where it usually struggles.||1||5-1|
|Part 17 of Tom Herman's Job Armageddon. A third loss this season puts all kinds of pressure on Texas' coach, especially with the opponent this week being Big 12 leader Iowa State. Oklahoma and Iowa State -- the two teams ahead of the Longhorns -- both own the tiebreaker against Texas.||--||7-3|
|The Badgers didn't score after the first quarter. Graham Mertz looked befuddled throwing three interceptions. The result was a 17-7 loss to Northwestern that puts the Wildcats squarely in control in the Big Ten West. The seven points were tied for the fewest scored by the Badgers since the fifth game of the 2015 season.||8||4-3|
|Just in time for the Iron Bowl, the Tigers are getting their spit together. How many teams can lose their leading rusher and two offensive tackles and still win by 13 (30-17 over Tennessee)? Smoke Monday returned a pick six 100 yards after Auburn had fallen behind 10-0. If they haven't noticed, loads of payback is awaiting the Tigers in T-Town this week.||NR||6-5|
|Idle. The Central Arkansas game was canceled due to a massive COVID-19 outbreak. Thirty-three Louisiana players were in protocol. Coach Billy Napier contracted the coronavirus. The Ragin' Cajuns are awaiting their Sun Belt Championship Game opponent after clinching the West last week.||--||10-1|