College Football Playoff Rankings: Analysis, Breakdown Week 2

    Where did the College Football Playoff committee get it right with the second week of the rankings? Where did they miss? Analysis of the second rankings of the CFP season.

    November 11, 2015

    College Football Playoff Rankings: Analysis & Breakdown

    What are the big things to take away from the second installment of the College Football Playoff rankings? What did the committee get right, and what did it mess up?

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    Iowa should be No. 3 instead of Ohio State.

    If everyone is going by the CFP rankings, then there’s no reason Iowa should be ranked behind Ohio State.

    The No. 3 Buckeyes don’t have a win over a CFP top 25 team, while the No. 5 Hawkeyes have a blowout win over No. 18 Northwestern and a good win over No. 25 Wisconsin – both on the road. Ohio State’s best win so far? We’re still waiting for it.

    Should the Hawkeyes be ranked higher than Notre Dame? Not necessarily considering the lone loss is to No. 1 Clemson, and the Fighting Irish have wins over No. 20 Navy and No. 22 Temple.

    No. 2 Alabama passes the eye-test to go along with the big deal win over No. 9 LSU, and No. 1 Clemson has that win over No. 4 Notre Dame along with the victory over No. 16 Florida State.

    No. 3 might be high for Iowa, but it’s way too high for Ohio State considering what it’s actually accomplished.

    However …

    The Big Ten controls its own destiny, no matter what.

    What did we learn from all of this? Iowa at No. 5 all but solidifies its status. We already knew it, but this just confirms that an unbeaten Ohio State or a 13-0 Iowa will get into the playoff. No, a one-loss Stanford won’t get in over an unbeaten Hawkeye team, and, obviously, there’s no question about the Buckeyes getting in if they win out. There’s no reason to speculate about the possibilities of being beaten out by a one-loss champion from another conference.

    Wisconsin moving into the top 25 matters

    It’s not really for this week, but for next week it’s a big deal that the Badgers slipped in at No. 25. And why? It’s the second top 25 win for both Alabama and Iowa to make both of their resumes look that much stronger. The Crimson Tide and Hawkeyes are both in no matter what if they win out, but it also helps push down others and could help in the overall playoff positioning.

    Is Alabama going to get to No. 1? Add the win over Bucky on to the pile, and the schedule will end up being better than Clemson’s. The same goes for Iowa – the win at UW could mean the difference between being No. 3 and No. 4.

    Notre Dame needs a lot more help than you might think.

    Yeah, Notre Dame is No. 4, and yeah, the wins over Temple and Navy are going to help the cause. Obviously beating Stanford and finishing 11-1 is a must, but it’s going to take some help.

    Will the committee be cool with a rematch? The Clemson situation is interesting, only because there might be some thought that a Round 2 wouldn’t be all that appealing – the first Fighting Irish-Tigers game was good, but it didn’t exactly capture the nation’s undivided attention.

    The bigger problem could be the other conferences. If Clemson wins out, it’s in. If there’s an unbeaten Big Ten champion – or possibly even a one-loss champ depending on whether or not the title game is a blowout – it’s in.

    Baylor or Oklahoma State would absolutely be in if one of them goes unbeaten, and Oklahoma would at least be considered. Throw in a sure-thing, one-loss Alabama or Florida, and Notre Dame might be squeezed out.

    The other thing to worry about? A one-loss Utah.
    Don’t sleep on the Utes if they’re able to run the table and finish with wins over Michigan, at Oregon, Cal, UCLA, and, most likely, Stanford. Would the committee take into account that Notre Dame beat USC, and USC beat Utah? Of course, but it would still be an interesting discussion.

    The committee HATED recent losses – except for …

    Florida State. Because of the unwavering committee love for Clemson, losing in Death Valley is apparently meaningless. The Seminoles don’t have any real wins of note, but they managed to stay at No. 16 despite the loss to Clemson. Meanwhile, LSU started out No. 2 last week, came up with the most acceptable of acceptable losses at Alabama, and it dropped like a rock to No. 9.

    TCU was No. 8 last week, and one loss to Oklahoma State was crushing, dropping down to No. 15. Michigan State was hovering around at No. 7 last week, and it hit the skids down to No. 13.

    So, for right now, late in the game, you can’t survive a loss.

    Baylor over Oklahoma State?

    Baylor’s best win so far is … Kansas State? Texas Tech? West Virginia? The Bears have rolled over several okay teams, while Oklahoma State hung on by the skin of its teeth in too many games, but there’s one big, giant difference.

    Oklahoma State 49, TCU 29.

    TCU was last week’s No. 8 team, and OSU beat it like a drum in ugly fashion. The Bears are No. 6 and Oklahoma State No. 8 – it should probably be the other way around. That changes if Baylor comes up with a win over Oklahoma this week, but for now, that Pokes win over the Horned Frogs deserved more respect.

    Four American Athletic teams

    They’re going to keep eating each other up, but for right now the American Athletic can puff its chest out a little bit with four teams in the top 25. No. 20 Navy, No. 21 Memphis, No. 22 Temple and No. 24 Houston makes this a huge moment for the conference, especially since there are just three ACC teams, four Pac-12 teams and four Big 12 teams in the top 25. This matters for Notre Dame – who beat the Midshipmen and Owls – but it means even more for the league that continues to try to push its way back into the Power world.

    Northwestern at 18 and Stanford at 7?

    It’s still possible to do this. No. 18 Northwestern’s two losses are to No. 5 Iowa and No. 14 Michigan. But the Wildcats did beat No. 7 Stanford, and they’ve done their part to keep on winning outside of those two losses to top teams. There’s no on-the-field reason why the Cardinal should be ranked higher than the Cats, even if the eye-test says otherwise.

    At the moment, if done absolutely as correctly as possible based on what has happened so far, the rankings on Nov. 10 should be …

    Starting at the very top and working the way down, just like the CFP committee does it, start with the top team and flow everything from there. So, based on head-to-head matchups first and foremost, and what the CFP put together, these are what the rankings probably should be.

    For example, if Alabama really is No. 2, then LSU – with the only loss coming to the Crimson Tide – could technically be No. 3.

    Throwing in a little bit of the eye test where needed, but, again, based on the CFP rankings and mostly on resume and CFP top 25 wins …

    1. Alabama (CFP: No. 2)

    2. Clemson (CFP: No. 1)

    3. Iowa (CFP: No. 5)

    4. Notre Dame (CFP: No. 4)
    5. LSU (CFP: No. 9)

    6. Oklahoma State (CFP: No. 8)

    7. Utah (CFP: No. 10)

    8. Florida (CFP: No. 11)

    9. Ohio State (CFP: No. 3)

    10. Baylor (CFP: No. 6)

    11. Michigan State (CFP: 13)

    12. Michigan (CFP: No. 14)
    13. Northwestern (CFP: No. 18)

    14. Stanford (CFP: No. 7)

    15. Navy (CFP: No. 20)

    16. Oklahoma (CFP: No. 12)

    17. Memphis (CFP: No. 21)
    19. Wisconsin (CFP: 25)

    20. USC (CFP: Not Ranked)

    21. Mississippi State (CFP: No. 17)

    22. Arkansas (CFP: Not Ranked)

    23. Ole Miss (CFP: Not Ranked)

    24. Auburn (CFP: Not Ranked)
    25. Houston (CFP: No. 24)


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