Over the next few weeks, ahead of the first College Football Playoff Rankings release on Nov. 1, 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 record 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.
1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide look like they have no intention of giving up the national championship.
2. Ohio State: Alabama (at Arkansas, Tennessee) and Ohio State (at Oklahoma, Wisconsin) own the four best true road wins of the season so far.
3. Clemson: The Tigers have been playing with fire, but so far haven't gotten burned.
4. Texas A&M: The Aggies have a chance to move up to the top if they can win in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this week.
5. Michigan: The Wolverines needed a week off after scoring all those points against Rutgers.
6. Washington: Chris Petersen has Washington primed to win the Pac-12 and get to the playoff.
7. Louisville: The Cardinals were a little flat after the bye week and Duke gave them a better game than you would expect.
8. Tennessee: The Vols had the best schedule before hosting Alabama. Both of their losses have come to undefeated teams. Wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and Georgia have them at the top of the list of two-loss teams
9. Wisconsin: You'll start to notice a theme here. The Badgers' only losses have come to teams that haven't lost to anyone. They also have a win over LSU.
10. Florida State: The Seminoles have gotten back on track since losing to Louisville and North Carolina.
11. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers haven't lost but haven't really beaten anyone to make you take notice. It's not a Baylor-level schedule, but not terribly exciting.
12. West Virginia: That stuff I just said about Nebraska applies to West Virginia, too. The Mountaineers are coming off a dominant performance at Texas Tech
13. Arkansas: The Razorbacks have only lost to Alabama and Texas A&M but weren't overly competitive in those losses.
14. Auburn: The Tigers are flying under the radar a bit, but their only losses so far have come to Clemson and Texas A&M, and they beat LSU at home.
15. Navy: The Midshipmen knocked Houston out of playoff contention and might be in line for a New Year's Six game themselves.
16. Houston: The Cougars need two Navy losses just to open the door to winning the West Division of the AAC. Winning the league title is a prerequisite to earning the Group of Five spot in the New Year's Six.
17. Oklahoma: The Sooners have played a pretty good schedule but didn't look all that great in their two losses. They are undefeated in Big 12 play so far, and many think OU is still the favorite to win the league.
18. Utah: The Utes are a quiet 6-1 with a win over USC at home. The talk would be louder if they hadn't lost at Cal.
19. North Carolina: UNC bounced back from a pounding by Virginia Tech to win at Miami and kept itself in contention for the ACC Coastal Division crown.
20. Western Michigan: The Broncos keep rowing their boat along, taking down Akron last week in a matchup of MAC division leaders. Coach P.J. Fleck figures to get questions this week about a possible move toPurdue.
21. Boise State: The Broncos got more than they bargained for from Colorado State but held on to remain undefeated and in the hunt for the Group of Five bowl spot.
22. Florida: The Gators beat Missouri this week but lost a home game to LSU as a makeup for the game postponed by Hurricane Matthew.
23. Baylor: The Bears' strength of schedule so far ranks around 120th out of 128.
24. Washington State: Wazzu knocked off UCLA at home last week but will have a tougher task at Arizona State. The Cougars join their in-state rival as the only teams still unbeaten in Pac-12 play.
25. Colorado: The Buffs' rebuilding project is going quite well. They only have losses at Michigan and USC and just throttled Arizona State at home.