The College Football Playoff is getting closer and closer. Now, the second edition of the College Football Playoff rankings has just been released. Slowly but surely, we are getting a better idea of what the playoff picture is going to look like.
What did we learn this week? What were the biggest surprises? Let’s take a look at what we should note.
No Movement Among Top 8
This may not be a shocker to most people, but there was no movement at all among the top eight teams from last week to this week. None of the teams lost or noticeably struggled. However, there was some debate about the quality of victories in Week 10.
The Georgia Bulldogs, Texas Longhorns, and Alabama Crimson Tide all played ranked opponents last week. Admittedly, Texas needed overtime to survive against the Kansas State Wildcats, and Georgia only won by nine points against the Missouri Tigers. However, Alabama won handily against their rival LSU Tigers by multiple touchdowns.
Because of these key wins, there was some speculation that these teams would move up over others who were playing easier opponents. However, the committee held firm and kept every team where they were. This leads us to the next reaction.
Among the top eight teams, you can argue that there have been inconsistent messages sent to these teams. The main argument with where these teams should be ranked comes down to the strength of schedule versus eye test. The committee seems to be sending mixed messages about this.
Among the unbeaten teams, the committee rewarded Ohio State with the top spot for wins over teams like the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Georgia arguably just had their best win of the season against Missouri after having a rather weak schedule before that. Then, it gets more complicated.
The Michigan Wolverines have the weakest strength of schedule out of any of the major unbeaten teams. Yet, they are ahead of teams like the Florida State Seminoles and the Washington Huskies. Michigan’s best win is against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who have been unranked all season. Florida State has beaten teams like LSU, while Washington beat the Oregon Ducks earlier this year in a classic.
Even among the one-loss schools, this is an issue. Oregon’s only notable win has been against the Utah Utes. Admittedly, it was a dominant one.
Meanwhile, Texas beat Alabama and Kansas State but is ranked behind them. Alabama beat teams like the Ole Miss Rebels and LSU. The point is that there has not been clear consistency about what is more important here. For now, we have to assume that you need a mix of both.
Ole Miss and Penn State Chances?
Realistically, these are the last two teams on the list that have any sort of chance of making the College Football Playoff. For Ole Miss, the journey is next to impossible. First of all, they have to beat Georgia on the road this week. Then, even if they do that, they still need Alabama to lose two games to appear in the SEC Championship and strengthen their resume.
As for Penn State, they need to beat Michigan this week to keep their playoff hopes alive. Then, they would need Michigan to beat Ohio State. If all of that happens, it comes down to the records of Big Ten West opponents that these three teams played.
The team with the highest Big Ten West opponent record makes the Big Ten Championship. Penn State needs to get this birth to have any sort of chance at making the College Football Playoff. Even with that, their chances are still slim.