Projected College Football Playoff Rankings Top Four: Who’ll Be The Fourth?

    Projected College Football Playoff Rankings for the top four. Three of the teams should be obvious, but who's that fourth team going to be?

    November 10, 2015

    Projected College Football Playoff Rankings: Make Your Case For The Top Four

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    We know three of the teams in the second installment of the 2015 College Football Playoff rankings, but who’s No. 4 going to be?

    After thumping then-No. 2 LSU, Alabama could jump over Clemson for the No. 1 spot, and Ohio State will almost certainly stay in after getting past Minnesota, but the order really doesn’t matter right now – all three teams control their own respective destinies.

    No. 5 Notre Dame dumped on Pitt, so it’s going to move up to No. 4 after LSU lost, right?

    It’s not quite that cut-and-dry.

    Assuming the Tigers, Crimson Tide and Buckeyes are in the top four in some configuration, who’s that fourth team going to be? Remembering that No. 7 Michigan State and No. 8 TCU won’t be in after losing, the realistic contenders are …

    No. 2 LSU

    In The Top Four: If you believe that Alabama is the best team in college football, then losing on the road in a super-charged environment to that best team in college football shouldn’t be seen as that big a problem. If Alabama is No. 1 – or anywhere in the top three – technically and theoretically, LSU could be one spot behind. The road win over Mississippi State and giving SEC champ Florida its only loss is still more impressive than anything the other one-loss teams have done.

    Out Of The Top Four: At least for right now, after getting steamrolled over, the impression of Derrick Henry’s footprints are still too fresh. It’s not supposed to work this way, but with Notre Dame and Baylor winning, it might be too easy to move the Tigers down at least three spots for now.

    In Or Out?: Out. With Arkansas, at Ole Miss, and Texas A&M still to play, there’s still hope to finish strong and push into the top four as the best of the one-loss teams – champion or not. This week, moving out of the penthouse makes sense.

    No. 5 Notre Dame

    In The Top Four: The CFP rankings aren’t done like the AP and Coaches Polls, but it could be easy to do it like the old school systems. LSU loses, moves down and out, No. 5 Notre Dame wins and moves up and in. If you believe Clemson is the No. 1 team in the country – or a really strong No. 2 – then losing by a missed two-point conversion in Death Valley isn’t worthy of any sort of punishment.

    Out Of The Top Four: LSU really might be a more deserving top four team based on the eye-test. The Fighting Irish defense looked a wee bit shaky at times against Pitt.

    In Or Out?: In, and it probably won’t be close with the exception of one other team – more on that in a moment. Navy’s win over Memphis and USC’s hot three-game run have boosted up the Irish resume. The loss to Clemson is going to get more and more respect from the committee.

    No. 6 Baylor

    In The Top Four: If the committee was taking a wait-and-see attitude on the Baylor quarterback situation, the question was answered with a resounding wow. Jarrett Stidham threw for over 400 yards and played like a seasoned veteran as calmly led the Bears to a decent road win against a jacked up Kansas State.

    Out Of The Top Four: Kansas State has yet to win a Big 12 game this season and it had a chance late to pull off the upset. Stidham was great, but the 31 points were the lowest this year by far and half of what the team usually produces. The bigger problem? West Virginia is the best win – the schedule hasn’t kicked in yet.

    In Or Out?: Nope. The resume isn’t good enough, and the team didn’t play well enough against Kansas State to shove aside Notre Dame from getting past the bouncer.

    No. 9 Iowa

    In The Top Four: It’s going to be an intriguing argument as the next few weeks go by. How much will the committee care about the continued above-averageness – to make up a term – of the Hawkeyes compare to the potential of Ohio State? Iowa’s 40-10 win over Northwestern and 10-6 win over Wisconsin – both on the road – are far stronger victories than anything the Buckeyes have produced so far.

    Out Of The Top Four: It’s hard to get too excited about a team with no real firepower coming off of sluggish wins over Maryland and Indiana. The Hawkeyes are good, but they just don’t seem truly great – at least not quite yet.

    In Or Out?: No, but there could be a decent move up. It doesn’t matter – a 13-0 Iowa will get in – and the lack of respect could serve as a net positive in the locker room. It’s going to keep hovering just outside of the four after beating Minnesota and Purdue over the next two weeks.

    No. 10 Florida

    In The Top Four: It’s the SEC East champ. The finality of that could be just enough to make some in the room give the Gators a little bit of credit. This is still a Florida team that blew out the Ole Miss team that beat Alabama, and the wins over Tennessee and Georgia are still strong. The O might have sputtered, but the D has allowed 13 total points in three of the last four games.

    Out Of The Top Four: Florida 9, Vanderbilt 7. At home. Needing a bomb of a kick to win. You don’t.

    In Or Out?: Nope. Win out, and the Gators are in, but it can’t and shouldn’t make it right now over a one-loss LSU – the Tigers beat the Gators 35-28 – and the best wins over Georgia and Tennessee just aren’t that great. Again, after that Vanderbilt game, no way.

    No. 14 Oklahoma State

    In The Top Four: And here’s the really, really big call – OSU is unbeaten, and the Fighting Irish aren’t. Notre Dame might now have the overall resume, and the consistent body of work is stronger, but it doesn’t have that. TCU came into last week No. 8 and unbeaten, and while Alabama (No. 2 LSU), Ole Miss (No. 4 Alabama), Clemson (No. 5 Notre Dame), and Nebraska (No. 7 Michigan State) technically have the strongest wins of the season, blasting away on TCU was an eye-opener. America, welcome to Oklahoma State.

    Out Of The Top Four: 49-29 over TCU deserves at least a look, but this is the same Oklahoma State team that sputtered and struggled against Central Michigan, Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia. It’s possible the committee gets the Cowboys close, but gives them one or two more looks with Iowa State and Baylor up next.

    In Or Out?: It’ll be the question to ask chairman Jeff Long one way or another – how close was it? Oklahoma State is unbeaten, and Notre Dame isn’t. Jumping up from 14 to four wouldn’t be jaw-dropping, but this might be the No. 5 team for now depending on where LSU falls.


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