Projected College Football Playoff rankings: There's a new Top 4
It's only one week after the release of the first CFP rankings and already three of the top eight lost and will tumble, a few teams made massive statements, and a few others set the stage for a terrific next few weeks.
So who'll be in the College Football Playoff top four come Tuesday night?
It's not that hard. Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State will stay in, Notre Dame will move up. Easy peasy.
But is that it? Does that mean it's over for some of the key players like LSU and Michigan State who lost on Saturday?
- No. 2 LSU – after losing to Alabama 30-16 - needs Alabama to lose to either Mississippi State or Auburn. The Tigers have to win out, get that Alabama loss, and all will be right with the world as the 11-1 West champs with a shot at Florida for the SEC title and a spot in the playoff. But what if LSU and Alabama both win out? Can LSU get in at 11-1 with that one loss as acceptable as it gets? The final three games are Arkansas, at Ole Miss, and Texas A&M. Rip through those three, hope for a two-loss Pac-12 champion (possible), chaos in the Big 12 (likely), and for Notre Dame to somehow screw up (tough to do without Stanford getting the win). It'll be hard, but on the Four Best Teams theory, LSU will have a good argument as long as it's able to get on a roll.
- No. 7 Michigan State – despite losing at Nebraska 39-38 – might be in slightly better shape than it seems. That loss might stink – especially if Nebraska finishes with a losing record – but it came on a controversial final play and it was just a one point defeat. At the very least, the CFP committee would discuss how the Spartans lost, but more importantly, their own Big Ten destiny is right there for the taking. It might take a little help for things to set up just right, but if MSU beats a 10-0 Ohio State and then a 12-0 Iowa in the Big Ten championship game, the resume would be something special with wins over Oregon and Michigan also added to the mix. Does a 12-1 Big Ten champion get into the CFP over an unbeaten Clemson, and unbeaten Big 12 champ, and/or a one-loss SEC champ? No, no, and no, but it would have a better case to make over an 11-1 Notre Dame or a one-loss Pac-12 champion. Don't discount just how big a deal it would be to the committee if MSU stopped OSU in Columbus and beat Iowa. Also, will Oklahoma State and Baylor go unbeaten? Not likely.
- No. 8 TCU – 49-29 loser at Oklahoma State – will probably suffer the most. LSU still has a shot to roll to the SEC title, and Michigan State still has its fate in its hands, but TCU now needs Oklahoma State to lose twice – or get one loss and dive into the tie-breaker scenarios – to be the One True Champion. With a trip to Oklahoma and a home date against Baylor to close out – not counting the free space game against Kansas – 11-1 would still be impressive. However, it'll be an impossible to get in over one-loss Big Ten, SEC and/or Pac-12 champions, not to mention an 11-1 Notre Dame. It's not over, but it's close.
- No. 13 Memphis after losing to Navy 45-20? Thanks for playing. However, it brings up a very, very interesting theoretical debate. Navy's one loss is to Notre Dame, the likely No. 4 team in the next CFP rankings. Navy gave Memphis its one loss. Memphis beat Ole Miss. Ole Miss beat Alabama. Technically, considering Navy hasn't lost to anyone else, it should be ahead of Alabama. Of course, the committee goes by which teams it thinks are best, but on paper, the Midshipmen have a legitimate beef.
But enough about the losers.
Projected College Football Playoff Rankings, Week 2
Like the CFP committee is going to drop the Tigers now after beating Florida State. However – this argument coming in a piece later this week – at the end of the fun, Clemson might have the worst resume compared to other potentially deserving teams for the top spot. For now, Clemson isn't budging.
Depending on whether or not Wisconsin, Georgia, and/or Tennessee get into the top 25 at some point, Alabama might have the best resume by far considering, technically, it came up with the best win of the season beating last-week-No. 2 LSU. The one loss to Ole Miss won't matter – the Crimson Tide will jump over a sluggish Ohio State.
3. Ohio State
Cardale Jones wasn't great, Ohio State wasn't great, the 28-14 win over Minnesota wasn't great. It won't matter. The Buckeyes could move up to No. 2 because they're unbeaten, but they're fine as is.
4. Notre Dame
These aren't like the other polls and rankings that automatically move a winning team up after another team loses, but in this case, No. 6 Baylor was shaky against Kansas State, No. 7 Michigan State lost, No. 8 TCU lost, and No. 9 Iowa isn't going to move that far up after struggling against Indiana. Notre Dame cranked out a big win over Pitt – it's a lock for No. 4.
And as for the rest of the top ten ...
5. Oklahoma State
Last Week: No. 14 This becomes the biggest guess of the bunch. How much does the committee care about the recent blowout over last week's No. 8 TCU? Probably a lot. This is the hot team at the right time, and it wouldn't be totally shocking if that one 49-29 win puts the Cowboys in at No. 4.
Last Week: No. 6 Even though the Bears don't have any wins of note, the committee has a thing for them. The real games against decent teams are coming, but for now, they'll either move one spot up or stick at No. 6.
Last Week: No. 9 The Hawkeyes just weren't impressive enough against Indiana. The overall body of work is just okay, especially after Pitt got roasted by Notre Dame. For now, moving up two spots is fine. Iowa still controls its own destiny – a 13-0 Big Ten champ is in no matter what.
Last Week: No. 2 It'll be a debate over whether or not it should be LSU, Stanford, Utah or Florida here. It's not going to be that hard – LSU lost at Alabama, and there's no shame in that. The Tigers still have the win over Florida, which should trump almost anything anyone else can claim, and Stanford might not quite get the enough respect to fly up this high. However, it'll be ...
Last Week: No. 11 The Cardinal will bounce over a Florida team that needed everything in the bag to get past lowly Vanderbilt. The Cardinal won their layup game at Colorado without a problem. They could find their way into the top eight without anyone complaining, but just behind LSU in the one-loss world is more likely.
Last Week: No. 10 It's either Florida or Utah. The Utes did a nice job getting by an underappreciated Washington, while the Gators needed a miraculous kick to slip past Vanderbilt. The Ole Miss win doesn't look so great now for the Gators, but as SEC East champs, they'll get just enough respect to hang on to the top ten spot by an eyelash.
And the best guess on the rest ... 11. Utah 12. Oklahoma 13. Michigan State 14. TCU 15. Michigan 16. Houston 17. Navy 18. Mississippi State 19. Northwestern 20. Temple 21. North Carolina 22. UCLA 23. Florida State 24. Wisconsin 25. Memphis
MORE: Week 11 College Football Rankings, No. 1-128