Fornelli 50 college football rankings: A team other than Alabama is No. 1
The Fornelli 50 ranks teams based on nothing but their performance in 2017
Ranking teams is something that is just done in the college football world. For years, polls decided which team won the national title while in recent decades, those same polls were used to help determine which teams would play for the national title.
Even now, in the College Football Playoff era, it's a poll put together by a selection committee that determines the four teams that qualify for the playoff. Not every poll's created the same way. Some are a collection of individual polls, while mathematical formulas determine others.
The Fornelli 50 is one of the latter polls. While it's something I've long tracked on my own, the Fornelli 50 didn't debut on CBS Sports until last season, and now we begin the second year of my rankings. For those of you coming across these rankings for the first time, here's a quick reminder on how they're tabulated.
1. My opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the rankings: They are based on a mathematical formula of my creation. Early in the season, when there's such a limited sample size with which to work, there can be some wonky results. It's a situation that's more drastic this year, as we have some teams that have played three games, and others who have played only one due to cancellations caused by both hurricanes Harvey and Irma. So keep all of this in mind before you call me an idiot, which I know you will.
2. There is true equality to start: The math doesn't play favorites. Before the season begins, defending national champion Clemson is just as good as our defending Bottom 25 champion Texas State. The only factor that matters in the rankings is how you've performed on the field in 2017 to this point.
3. Wins and losses mean more than anything: I have a lot of different statistics involved, and I factor in strength of schedule, but at the end of the day, whether you won or lost is going to mean more than anything else. Also, just because it's too difficult for me to rank FCS teams as well, my formula doesn't have much respect for FCS schools. If you beat one it won't mean much, and if you lose to one, well, you might show up in The Bottom 25.
4. The formula is in no way predictive: It is based on nothing but what has occurred in the season to this point in time. Just because a team is currently ranked No. 15 does not mean it's better or that it's going to beat a team ranked No. 35. It just means that, to this point, it has been the 15th-best team in the country. Think of it as a meritocracy in its purest form.
5. I won't share the formula: I just don't want to. I'm not a mathematician. I know my formula isn't perfect. I don't think a perfect formula can exist, so I don't share it because I don't care what anybody thinks. So don't ask. Just know that, even if you don't agree with it right now, at the end of the season, it has been startlingly accurate.
There, now that we've gotten all of that out of the way, let's find out who the best 50 teams in college football are so far this season.
|Oklahoma (2-0): Oklahoma has what the formula considers the best win of the season so far, going on the road to knock off Ohio State 31-16.|
|Alabama (2-0): Alabama had been at No. 1 last week, but a blowout win over Fresno State wasn't enough to keep it there this early in the season.|
|Clemson (2-0): One thing is clear about this Clemson team in 2017: that defense will make this team extremely dangerous all season long.|
|Penn State (2-0): James Franklin saying beating Pitt was just like beating Akron to the Nittany Lions was a savage move.|
|UCF (1-0): The first head-scratcher in the poll. Just keep in mind all the math knows about UCF right now is it's 61-17 domination of FIU. Odds are the Knights will come back down to Earth.|
|USC (2-0): I am not ready to declare that USC is back, but man, it certainly looked backish against Stanford on Saturday night.|
|Michigan (2-0): I can't help but believe there's a definite ceiling here unless the offense can take a step forward.|
|Oklahoma State (2-0): Pretty strong start for the state of Oklahoma this season, as Oklahoma State gives it two top 10 teams.|
|Wisconsin (2-0): Wisconsin extended a lot more hospitality to FAU off the field this week than it did on it.|
|South Carolina (2-0): One of the early surprises in the SEC. Given how things have looked so far, the Gamecocks should be in the SEC East race all year.|
|Minnesota (2-0): They're rowing the boat early in Minneapolis, but a passing game would be nice too.|
|Louisville (2-0): Lamar Jackson laughs at you for thinking there was no way he'd contend for another Heisman Trophy this season.|
|Duke (2-0): Duke! Daniel Jones and the Blue Devils have outscored opponents 101-24 through two games.|
|UCLA (2-0): UCLA's win over Hawaii this weekend wasn't nearly as exciting as its win over Texas A&M, though few games are.|
|UTSA (1-0): Frank Wilson is a name that will come up in a lot of coaching searches this winter.|
|Georgia (2-0): Georgia went north to take on Notre Dame and brought its entire fan base with it, apparently. It had to help in a 20-19 win.|
|TCU (2-0): Two weeks into the season and that TCU defense is looking a lot like you expect a Gary Patterson defense to look.|
|Wake Forest (2-0): Not only is Wake Forest 2-0, but I don't believe any of its radio analysts have given away its playbook this season.|
|Colorado (2-0): I had some serious concerns about Colorado with everything it lost after last year, but it's off to a promising start.|
|Washington (2-0): The defending Pac-12 champs had an easy time with Montana this week.|
|Maryland (2-0): If you are not familiar with Maryland running back Ty Johnson, rectify this situation.|
|Houston (1-0): All the attention is on the quarterbacks, but Houston's Ed Oliver could easily be the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL Draft, and he probably should be.|
|Mississippi State (2-0): Oh look, Dan Mullen's off to another good start while seemingly nobody is paying any attention.|
|Kansas State (2-0): The Wildcats have looked excellent to start, but wins over Central Arkansas and Charlotte won't turn a lot of heads.|
|Iowa (2-0): Beating your in-state rival never stops being fun.|
|Eastern Michigan (2-0): Eastern Michigan beat Rutgers this week. It was the program's first win over a Power Five team in its history. It had been 0-58 before that.|
|Michigan State (2-0): Sparty could use this 2-0 start after the disaster that was 2016.|
|Oregon (2-0): Oregon was getting it's Texas A&M on for a while against Nebraska, but the Ducks held on.|
|SMU (2-0): Is Chad Morris' team ready to make noise in the American this year?|
|Navy (2-0): Navy's defense is concerning me a bit, but the Mids still look like the Mids, and that could be enough this year.|
|Vanderbilt (2-0): The Commodores have their first 2-0 start since the 2011 season.|
|Virginia Tech (2-0): We're going to have a lot of fun watching Josh Jackson, aren't we?|
|LSU (2-0): Still waiting for Matt Canada to take the Ferrari out of the garage.|
|Air Force (1-0): We'll know a lot more about Air Force after it plays Michigan this week.|
|Coastal Carolina (1-0): Not a bad start for a program new to the FBS level.|
|Tennessee (2-0): You just knew the Vols would look to show out against Indiana State after struggling with Georgia Tech for so long on Labor Day.|
|Illinois (2-0): Illinois' defense has been surprisingly stout through two weeks, but that offense...|
|Memphis (1-0): The Tigers are still my favorite in the AAC West.|
|Army (2-0): A very nice comeback by the Knights against Buffalo.|
|Texas Tech (1-0): Hey, it's mid-September, and the Raiders have only allowed 10 points!|
|San Diego State (2-0): Rashaad Penny. Learn the name, watch the player.|
|Toledo (2-0): I pegged the Rockets to win the MAC before the season, and I've seen nothing to cause me alarm.|
|Ole Miss (2-0): Shea Patterson set the school record for passing yards in a game this weekend. I don't think the NCAA will be able to take it away, either.|
|Central Michigan (2-0): A week after barely beating Rhode Island, the Chips go on the road and beat Kansas by 18.|
|Cal (2-0): Bears are off to a good start, but this week's contest against Ole Miss will not be easy.|
|USF (2-0): The Bulls have a lot more on their mind other than football right now.|
|Washington State (2-0): Shout out to Mike Leach for keeping me up until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning because he felt like throwing fades at the one-yard line.|
|Utah (2-0): The Holy War was a hot mess this year.|
|Old Dominion (2-0): The Monarchs get their first real test of the season in North Carolina this week.|
|Kentucky (2-0): The Wildcats may be 2-0, but it hasn't been an impressive 2-0.|
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