CFP Rankings Week 9
By Garrett Glaeser, Staff Writer
(Note: These rankings are prior to this weekends past games)
On Tuesday night the College Football Playoff Selection Committee posted their first top 25 rankings of the season. The College Football Playoff is now entering its 5th year of existence following the long tenure of the BCS Championship. In the format, four teams are selected to play a semifinal, the winners of which play for the national championship.
The committee didn’t surprise anyone Tuesday night other than their placing of LSU at #3 above undefeated Notre Dame. Self-proclaimed National Champions last year UCF are still receiving little attention and find themselves undefeated; yet stuck at #12. And #9 Kentucky is making a name for itself in a tough SEC with a headliner matchup this weekend against Georgia.
It’s still very early in the season to fully see the playoff picture, but the committee has nonetheless demonstrated once again that they are heavily weighing strength of schedule and don’t mind a close loss to a quality team. That being said, we’ve yet to see how they handle any future upsets.
And with that, the rankings…
- Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0) – No surprises here with the Crimson Tide coming in at #1. A high-powered offense lead by Tua Tagovailoa paired with an always-strong defense makes the Tide appear unstoppable. A huge SEC game against LSU on Saturday proves to be their toughest test, and yet they are 15-point favorites.
- Clemson Tigers (8-0) – Similar to Alabama, no one is second-guessing the Tigers being #2. True freshman QB Trevor Lawrence is showing why he beat out veteran Kelly Bryant. Clemson’s only reaming test in the regular season is against current #22 Boston College on November 10. However they have beaten the Eagles the past seven meetings.
- LSU Tigers (7-1) – The Tigers’ only loss comes at the hands of #11 Florida, who at the time was ranked #22. Since then, LSU has had marquee wins against Georgia and Mississippi State. This weekend’s game against Alabama is as big as it gets. Win and they are virtually assured a spot in the top 4. Lose and it’s a tough uphill battle.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-0) – The Irish always face the difficulty of not being in a conference, something the committee has shown to value. However they also rely on a strong schedule to boost their rating, something the committee appreciates. Though Notre Dame can probably afford a loss, if the Irish win out then they are virtually assured a spot.
- Michigan Wolverines (7-1) – Coach Harbaugh’s team is back in the playoff picture with wins against rival Michigan State and only one blemish to the record coming from a close Week 1 loss to Notre Dame. The game against #14 Penn State is big this weekend, but their rivalry game with Ohio State in late November could largely determine if they get in.
- Georgia Bulldogs (7-1) – Last year’s runner up once again is looking like a top-4 caliber team. If they win the game this Saturday against Kentucky they clinch a spot in the SEC title game. But if they loose, they can largely kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. The SEC is just too cluttered and full of talent for a two loss Georgia team to make it in.
- Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) – No Baker Mayfield, no problem. QB Kyler Murray is looking like a Heisman favorite and Coach Lincoln Riley has shown dedication to the school after shutting down rumors that he’d leave to coach the Cleveland Browns. To get in, the Sooners not only have to win out, but win big and show the committee they deserve a spot.
- Washington State Cougars (7-1) – The leaders of the Pac 12 are looking great, but great enough to make the playoff? Most likely not. A weak out of conference schedule is showing to haunt the Cougars, not to mention that the Pac 12 this year is arguably the worst conference of the Power 5. The committee won’t put them higher than #6.
- Kentucky Wildcats (7-1) – The SEC breakout story this season, the Wildcats are showing they’ve got game in football as much as they do in basketball. To prove their merit they’ll have to beat a Georgia team who knows they have to win to stay alive. But if the Wildcats beat the Bulldogs they’ll have a chance at Alabama for the SEC title. Win that one and who knows.
- Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) – Once again the Buckeyes have been plagued by an inexplicable blowout loss to a non-ranked Big 10 opponent in Purdue. QB Dwayne Haskins has faded in recent weeks. To have any hope of clawing back into the playoff picture they’ll need to win out and win convincingly at home against Michigan on November 24th.
- Florida Gators (6-2) – The highest ranked two-loss team, Florida is staying alive with the win against LSU earlier in the season. However with remaining games against irrelevant teams the Gators have no shot to make the playoffs. With Kentucky and Georgia ahead of them in the rankings and in conference, Florida should start planning for next year’s revenge.
- UCF Knights (7-0) – Oh UCF how the committee hates you. This team has won 20 straight games dating back to last season but their lack of quality opponents leaves them outside the top 10. Its going to take a lot more than winning the marginally ok American Conference for the Knights to ever hope to make a 4 team playoff.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (6-1) – If the Mountaineers beat Texas this weekend and Oklahoma on November 23rd they actually have a case for making the playoff. The loss to Iowa State doesn’t look great but QB Will Grier has shown he’s the real deal. It doesn’t look good for the Big 12 this year, but West Virginia isn’t completely out of it just yet.
- Penn State Nittany Lions (6-2) – The game against Michigan this weekend will largely be one for bragging rights. If the Nittany Lions win, all they do is make it that much harder for Michigan to get in. And maybe that’s the greatest victory of all for Happy Valley. QB Trace McSorley has been a great talent but the loss of Saquon has been costly this season.
- Utah Utes (6-2) – Utah has had a good season for Utah standards. A win against Stanford and losses to Washington and Washington State should have the Utes more than content. If anything, being #15 is generous from the committee. If Utah manages to win the Pac 12 they might reach #7 in the final rankings but no higher.
- Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2) – The Hawkeyes should be somewhat disappointed with their season. They very much could be undefeated with close losses to Big 10 opponents Wisconsin and Penn State. They play in the far easier Big 10 West but just couldn’t get it done. They’ll have a chance to prove something against a good Northwestern team Saturday.
- Texas Longhorns (6-2) – Texas looked like it just might be able to make an appearance in the playoff until last weekend’s loss to Oklahoma State. A win against West Virginia this weekend would be a nice statement as the Longhorns continue a football rebirth in hopes to win the Big 12 title. But as the playoff goes they’ll have to try again next year.
- Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-3) – The Bulldogs’ three losses all came against great SEC opponents and they have quality wins against Auburn and Texas A&M. Out of contention even for the SEC title game, Mississippi State should start planning ahead for next season. They have a chance to beat Alabama on November 10th, but its highly unlikely.
- Syracuse Orange (6-2) – The ‘Cuse faced an incredibly strong schedule this year and they finish with Notre Dame and Boston College. Win those games, and they still won’t make the playoff but they just might be knocking on the door. Had they beaten Clemson earlier in the year, the Orange might be closer to the top 10.
- Texas A&M (5-3) – Jimbo Fisher’s first year at A&M has largely been a success. Two of their three losses have come to the top two teams in their country, the other one coming at the hands of a solid Mississippi State team. Having beaten Kentucky, the Aggies will look to spoil LSU’s bid for the playoff on November 24th.
- NC State Wolfpack (6-2) – After starting the season 6-0, the Wolfpack have gone into a skid having lost to Clemson and Syracuse the past two weeks. They still remain one of the top teams in a competitive ACC but will have to find a way to beat Clemson in future years if they ever hope of one day earning a spot in the playoff.
- Boston College Eagles (6-2) – The Eagles have looked good this year but they haven’t really been tested just yet. Two of their final three games are against Clemson and Syracuse. Win those, and Boston College has a chance to play for the ACC crown. Winning that probably won’t get them in, but it’ll put them on the map for a great bowl game.
- Fresno State Bulldogs (7-1) – The lone Mountain West team in the top 25, Fresno State has only lost to Minnesota, a mediocre Big 10 team. It appears that Bulldogs will face Utah State for the Mountain West championship, the winner of which has absolutely no chance of making the playoff or cracking the top 10.
- Iowa State Cyclones (4-3) – A 4-3 record is mediocre, but the win against West Virginia largely keeps the Mountaineers out of the playoff conversation. They are a formidable team that has just come up short too many times this season. Last week’s win against Texas Tech looked good but the loss to last place TCU is a blemish that can’t be overcome.
- Virginia Cavaliers (6-2) – To be fair, the Cavaliers haven’t really played that strong of a schedule and when they have had a tough game, such as against NC State, they lost by two touchdowns. That being said, Virginia leads the ACC Coastal and could face Clemson for the ACC title assuming they win out.