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 with wins over three other teams on this list, two of which came on the road.|
|Alabama is rolling as you might expect and is the only team to beat Florida State with Dandre Francois. Unfortunately, that won't change and the committee will have to debate how to evaluate the quality of that win.|
|The Bulldogs have a win at Notre Dame and did not miss a beat when starting quarterback Jason Eason got hurt.|
|The Sooners have one of the best wins of the season in a dominant performance at Ohio State.|
|Gary Patterson's crew is winning more with offense than defense, which is unusual. The Frogs have a comfortable win at Oklahoma State and beat improving SMU at home.|
|The defending Big Ten champions have been piling up points at home but needed a touchdown on the final play to win their one road game at Iowa.|
|The Wolverines throttled Florida to open the season but have struggled to find a rhythm offensively, even against the lesser teams on their schedule. Michigan's defense is one of the best in the country though.|
|The Cougars provided some #Pac12AfterDark magic with a win over conference favorite USC on Friday. However, they have yet to play away from home.|
|The Badgers early season schedule lacks highlights, but they have won at BYU and beat Northwestern at home.|
|The Huskies also haven't played anyone of note yet, but they are winning big and have played three road games so far.|
|Unfortunately, we just haven't seen that much of Miami yet. The win at Duke is nice, but the Hurricanes should get a tougher test at Florida State this week.|
|The Tigers are the highest rated one-loss team on this list. That loss was 14-6 at Clemson, the toughest test so far for the top rated team.|
|The Hokies played Clemson reasonably well at home but lost by 14. They opened the season with a neutral-field win against West Virginia. They are a contender in the ACC Coastal.|
|Other than a one-point loss at home to Georgia, the Irish look much improved over a year ago. Their best win so far was a dominant performance at Michigan State.|
|The Cowboys have looked every bit the part of the team we expected them to be ... except for that loss at home to TCU.|
|The Buckeyes seem to have resolved some of their early season issues that were exposed in the loss to Oklahoma, although better tests of that are ahead.|
|The Aztecs already have two Pac-12 wins, including one over Stanford at home. I am not sure they can get much higher than this in the rankings, though, as the teams around them get deeper into conference play and see their schedules improve.|
|The Trojans have not found the form they had late last season, and as a result, they already have a loss and are fortunate not to have two.|
|The Utes won at BYU, but BYU is not the BYU we are used to seeing. They will get their toughest test so far when Stanford and Heisman candidate Bryce Love visit this week.|
|Lamar Jackson has the Cardinals' offense flying again, but they got smoked at home by Clemson and struggled to beat Purdue in the season opener.|
|The Gators seem to be winning with smoke and mirrors and, initially, a sputtering offense. Luke Del Rio seemed to spark that unit, but now he is out for the season.|
|This is not the American Athletic Conference team we expected to see in the top 25 this season, but the Knights were dominant in wins over Memphis and at Maryland.|
|The Wolfpack have rebounded from the season opening loss to South Carolina. They won at Florida State in James Blackman's first start at quarterback for the Noles.|
|Until getting run off their home field by Miami, the Blue Devils had looked pretty good to start the season. That start included a dominating performance over Northwestern.|
|The Terrapins are on their third QB now, Max Bortenschlager, after the first two were lost to the season with injuries. Maryland won at Texas and Minnesota, which were the games that their quarterbacks were injured and had to be replaced mid-game.|