Ohio State proves the beneficiary of Week 11 chaos in new CFP rankings
The College Football Playoff selection committee released its latest set of rankings Tuesday night. Here are three thoughts from the playoff committee's third top 25:
1. With Ohio State now at No. 2, two Big Ten teams in playoff is real possibility
As expected, Ohio State was the team that benefited the most in the short term from Clemson, Michigan and Washington's losses last Saturday, taking over the No. 2 spot behind Alabama. The Buckeyes have defeated their last two opponents 62–3, and are playing much better football than a month ago. Ohio State in all likelihood will make the playoff if it wins its next two games against Michigan State and Michigan.
Was Michigan's loss to Iowa a bad thing for Ohio State? Yes and no. If Penn State beats Rutgers and Michigan State like it should, then Ohio State cannot play in the Big Ten title game. So in that sense, yes, Michigan's loss would prove a negative for the Buckeyes because they could not win the Big Ten. However, because of the other losses by Clemson and Washington, it's highly doubtful a one-loss Ohio State team that has wins over Michigan, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Nebraska would be left out of the playoff. So by not playing in the conference championship game, the Buckeyes avoid a potential second loss that could knock them out of the top four. But if Michigan wins out, the Wolverines will make the playoff.
Overall, Ohio State currently has the best resume of all one-loss teams and is deserving of the No. 2 spot.
With four teams total in the top eight, the Big Ten has a very realistic chance at getting two teams into the playoff barring another week of insane upsets. It's quite simple: If Ohio State beats Michigan and Wisconsin beats Penn State in the Big Ten title game, both Ohio State and Wisconsin get in if Washington fails to win the Pac 12. A two-loss Big Ten champion is more deserving than a one-loss Louisville or two-loss Pac 12 champion.
2. Western Michigan deserves more respect
Boise State (9–1) came in at No. 20 this week, one spot ahead of Western Michigan (10–0) in the race for a Cotton Bowl bid. It ultimately may not matter, because Boise State must win its conference to play in a New Year's Six bowl and currently needs help to do so after losing to Wyoming, but it's still worth noting the committee's lack of respect for the undefeated Broncos.
The reason Boise State is ranked ahead of WMU is due to its win over No. 22 Washington State. The committee currently views that victory, along with Boise State's 26-spot advantage in strength of schedule, as better than WMU's two wins over Big Ten teams (Northwestern and Illinois) and undefeated record. The committee ranked both Louisville and Washington ahead of Wisconsin despite being ranked 53 and 52 spots worse, respectively, in strength of schedule, with arguably worse quality wins but a better record, yet didn't do the same for Western Michigan.
At the very least, Western Michigan should be ranked ahead of Tennessee, which has no business being No. 19.
Western Michigan will need to win out and hope Boise State doesn't win the Mountain West to secure that Cotton Bowl berth, and then we can all row the boat.
3. Louisville's schedule continues to hurt its playoff chances
Louisville fans will be upset that their team did not crack the top four this week, but it is quite obvious why. The Cardinals have just one win over a ranked opponent in No. 17 Florida State, and their strength of schedule sits at No. 64 according to Sagarin. Florida State itself hasn't done anything impressive this year, and has zero wins over ranked teams. Compare that resume to Clemson's three wins over ranked teams, including a head-to-head win against Louisville, and that's all there is to it. Lamar Jackson has been remarkable this year and should win the Heisman, but he can't get his team to the playoff on his own. The only way to ensure a playoff spot is if Clemson loses, giving Louisville a chance to win the ACC.
Washington now has a one-spot advantage over Louisville in strength of schedule and has two wins over ranked teams. If Washington wins its next two games over Arizona State and No. 22 Washington State, the Huskies will jump the Cardinals.
Full College Football Playoff rankings
2. Ohio State
8. Penn State
14. West Virginia
17. Florida State
20. Boise State
21. Western Michigan
22. Washington State
25. Texas A&M