Predicting the College Football Playoff Committee’s Third Ranking

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Jeff Heuerman (5) hoists the College Football Playoff trophy after the game against Oregon Ducks in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Jeff Heuerman (5) hoists the College Football Playoff trophy after the game against Oregon Ducks in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

How will the College Football Playoff rankings shape up this week?

In a week that saw Donald Trump pull one of the all-time shockers, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington all lost on Saturday sending ripples through the College Football Playoff standings.

Fans of chaos just got what they desired.  How will the CFP Committee respond when the third ranking is released on November 15 at 7:00 PM on ESPN’s College Football Playoff:  Top 25 show?

Any hope for Committee Chairman Kirby Hocutt getting an easy ride in his first year just flew out the window.

The Playoff Committee will have to sort through a myriad of issues that largely escaped them in the first two years.  Possible scenarios at play right now are voting in two teams from the same conference, selecting a non-conference champion from the Big Ten over the champion and two Power Five teams getting left out of the mix.

Or this could all just work out on the field.  Never a dull moment in college football.

Each week, I will predict where the Playoff Committee places the Top 10 teams.  This week is little more challenging.  Here we go:

#1 Alabama

Record:

10-0

Significant Wins:

LSU and USC

Remaining schedule:

Home against Chattanooga and Auburn.  SEC Championship Game.

Prediction:

Alabama polished off Mississippi State and the only thing that stands between the Crimson Tide and a third-straight playoff berth is nothing. Alabama’s a lock.

Sep 13, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Curtis Samuel (4) warms up before the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 13, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Curtis Samuel (4) warms up before the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

#2 Ohio State

Record:

9-1

Significant Wins:

Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Nebraska

Significant Losses:

Penn State

Remaining Schedule:

At Michigan State, home against Michigan

Prediction:

The Buckeyes semi-controlled their own destiny, providing the Wolverines did their part.  They didn’t.  Should the Buckeyes beat Michigan on November 26, Penn State heads to the Big 10 Championship game as long as they take care of Rutgers and Michigan State. Buckeyes need some help, but are looking good right now should they beat the Spartans and Wolverines.

Dec 30, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates after a 62-yard touchdown run during the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies in the 2015 Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates after a 62-yard touchdown run during the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies in the 2015 Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

#3 Louisville

Record:

9-1

Significant wins:

Florida State

Significant Losses:

Clemson

Remaining Schedule:

At Houston, home against Kentucky

Prediction:

The Cardinals find their way into the Top Four but it is doubtful they stay there in the end.  They need Clemson to lose to Wake Forest this week or in the ACC Championship game to have a shot as the ACC does not look like it will get two teams selected.  Not impossible, but odds are long.

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

#4 Clemson

Record:

9-1

Significant Wins:

Louisville and Florida State

Significant Losses:

Pitt

Remaining Schedule:

At Wake Forest, home against South Carolina, ACC Championship Game

Prediction:

The Committee will keep one of the three that lost in the Top Four and Clemson will be it.  The Tigers have a slightly better resume than Michigan and a much better resume than Washington.

Next Six:

#5 Michigan

I’ve been saying for weeks that you never know how good a team is until they go on the road and get punched in the mouth.  The Wolverines road schedule was garbage and frankly it still is, but they found out what happens in a hostile environment.

This loss will benefit them as Harbaugh can go back and correct some mistakes, but it also helps Urban Meyer because he now knows their weaknesses.

#6 Wisconsin

Clearly the best two-loss team, the Badgers stayed on course to win the Big Ten West by throttling Illinois.  Wisconsin might become the first two-loss team to make it to the playoff.

They should be rooting for Michigan so they can avenge one of their two losses.  The Committee might pick the Buckeyes over the Badgers if Wisconsin wins the Big 10 over Penn State.

#7 Penn State

Auburn and Texas A&M losing, which definitely exposes the SEC, opens up the door for Penn State.  The Nittany Lions won on the road against the pesky Hoosiers and now they get two of the Big Ten’s worst teams to finish the regular season.

The Wolverines gave them a gift.  They are cheering for Ohio State.

#8 Oklahoma

Largely forgotten after losing to Houston and Ohio State, the Sooners just keeping marching toward the Big 12 title.  The only problem is the Committee does not look favorably on the conference.  They are destined for the Sugar Bowl.

#9 Washington

In the first ranking, the CFP Committee voted Texas A&M over Washington revealing its skepticism of the Pac-12.  The Huskies loss to the Trojans gave the Committee the opening it needs to drop Washington far out of the Top Four.

The Huskies can play their way back into it, but the road is much tougher.  I don’t think beating Washington State and either Colorado or Utah will sway them too much. Getting USC again might do it though.

#10 Colorado

No. 10 is charity no matter what team the Committee selects, but it could be telling too.  Does the Committee go with the Big 12 and put in Oklahoma State or West Virginia?  How about the Pac-12 with Colorado or Utah?

Texas A&M and Auburn losing pretty much kills the SEC from getting two teams in the Top 10.

Analysis:

November is beautiful and cruel.  There’s still two weeks remaining and the only conference that is settled is the SEC.  Then again, it was always Alabama and the little 13 anyway.

Should the rest of college football world pick on the SEC as it continues to stumble along the way? The Crimson Tide might get the last laugh so it is best to say little right now.

The Game is always huge, regardless of records and implications, but this year is going to be epic.  The Wolverines still control their own destiny so the Buckeyes can kill Michigan’s championship dreams, but they will be killing their own dreams of a Big 10 Championship too.  They’ll need the CFP Committee to abandon a few precedents to get selected, but that is likely should Ohio State finish 11-1.

Meyer might tie Saban in another category if the Buckeyes don’t win the conference, but win the National Championship.

The Pac-12’s only hope to get a team into the playoff is for Washington to win out and that might be enough.  To win the South, USC needs Colorado to beat Utah and Washington State to beat Colorado.  The Apple Cup is now relevant for the first time in decades.

The ACC is a mess.  Louisville has the most dynamic player, but like Ohio State, lost to the one team it could not afford to lose to.  The way they are playing, the Cardinals might lose to Houston.

The Coastal is garbage and shockingly worse than the SEC East which is saying a lot.

The best hope for the ACC to get two teams is USC winning the Pac-12 and Michigan winning the Big Ten.   In the end, it will be Clemson again.

The Big 12 has to wait until next year.  I don’t think the Committee respects the conference.

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