Projecting the College Football Playoff Rankings: Don't sleep on ACC, Notre Dame
The ACC and the Irish combine for one-third of the top 12 teams in this week's rankings
Over the next few weeks, ahead of the first College Football Playoff Rankings release on Oct. 31, we will be predicting what the top 25 would look like if the CFP Selection Committee started early. It is a warmup act for the warmup act, which are the CFP Rankings releases before the final one.
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.
Here, we will 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 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 what I think the top 25 would look like this week.
|The Tigers have played the best schedule of anyone to this point and have wins over three other teams on this list, two of which came on the road.|
|Alabama is coming off a comfortable, if not dominant, win at Texas A&M. Nick Saban did not seem impressed.|
|The Bulldogs dominance continued with a lopsided win at Vanderbilt. They are the only team to beat Notre Dame.|
|TCU added a nice win over West Virginia this week to an already very good resume.|
|The Nittany Lions handled slumping Northwestern on the road the way a top rated team should.|
|The Cougars showed no hangover from their big win over USC last week in dispatching Oregon in their first road game of the season.|
|The Huskies best win to this point is at Colorado, but the Buffaloes are trending down. No team has a higher average margin of victory though.|
|The Badgers have yet to beat a team that is currently above .500. Purdue (3-2) visits next and is arguably the toughest opponent UW will have faced so far.|
|The Tigers are the highest rated one-loss team on this list. They are about to begin a stretch of three straight road games, but then the rest of the season will be played at home.|
|Notre Dame's win at Michigan State looks a lot better now than a week ago. Its loss to Georgia looks better every week also.|
|The Hurricanes finally ended a long losing streak to Florida State. Unfortunately, the Seminoles look pretty toothless right now.|
|The Hokies will battle Miami for supremacy in the ACC Coastal eventually. First, they need to take care of business in a couple of games at home.|
|That win over Iowa was two weeks ago was no fluke. The Spartans followed that up with a win at previously undefeated Michigan. Maybe it's the whipping Notre Dame gave them at home that is the fluke.|
|The Buckeyes have been running up the score on teams they should be able to do that to since the loss at home to Oklahoma, which does not look as good this week.|
|The Cowboys were off this week and their strength of schedule figures to take a step down with Baylor coming up next.|
|The Wolverines lost in the slop at home to their in-state rivals. Jim Harbaugh cannot seem to get consistent production at QB, the position he played himself.|
|The Aztecs already have two Pac-12 wins, including one over Stanford at home. Their biggest test in conference play is coming up this week against Boise State.|
|The Trojans took out some frustration on Oregon State. It turned out to be the last straw for Beavers coach Gary Anderson.|
|How does one team win on the road at Ohio State and lose at home to Iowa State, which was playing its backup quarterback? Great win for the Cyclones, but likely devastating for the Sooners.|
|The Wolfpack were impressive at home in dispatching Louisville and are starting to rise up the rankings.|
|Stanford is at the top of the list of two-loss teams with wins over UCLA and last week at Utah. Its only losses are at San Diego State and at USC.|
|The Knights keep rolling, but as with San Diego State, this may be about as high as they can get on this list.|
|The Red Raiders only loss came at home to Oklahoma State, and they are the only team to beat Houston, which they did on the road.|
|Iowa has probably been more impressive in defeat than in victory, but it has beaten three teams with winning records, including Iowa State -- something Oklahoma couldn't do.|
|The Bulls are undefeated but have yet to beat anyone of note.|
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