Analysis: College Football Playoff Rankings Week 1 Breakdown
Yes, I titled this week 1, but really, we are on week 10 in college football. We could only care about a few things at this point: how does your team look, where they are ranked at, and the wins and losses. A failure in either of these will get a coach fired or a player benched. With that said, so much controversy, opinions, tweets, posts, and even shade thrown by coaches, players, analysts, reporters, and regular common folk over the latest rankings. So, without further ado, let us dive right into this. Let’s analyze this shade and I will throw a dash or two on my own. S
I want to remind everyone why this committee exists. It is to determine the 4 best teams. The 4 most deserving teams to compete on the biggest stage to win a national championship.
But, really, this 13-person committee was formed to end the flawed computer-based formula that didn’t account for the eye test and for the biases of conferences (hmm…SEC). I went there! (Shade). This committee will review the strength of schedule, head-to-head results against common opponents, championships won and other factors, according to the website. The other factors include the eye test, dominance over the opponents, who the team played, teams beaten that are ranked, the overall performance of the team as a whole to include key injuries and where did the win occur — i.e. neutral site or road win. These are a lot of factors in which I will quickly move through the top 10 to discuss. Let’s be honest! If your squad is outside of the top 10, your team will not make the playoff. That’s the real.
Florida is introduced first as the number 10 team in the nation. Florida has two losses as well to LSU and to Georgia during the annual World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party rivalry game in Jacksonville. This normally puts the winner in a position to advance to the SEC title game out of the SEC Division. But, they lost this game. However, Florida should be in the clear to advance to a New Year’s Bowl game because the schedule is light from here. They will face Vanderbilt, Missouri and Florida State, who is in complete disarray after they bought out and fired Willie Taggart (who clearly wasn’t a fit for that historic program). Florida State is the type of team that cannot lose to all in-state rivals and keeps recruits, thus that move was necessary. I expect Florida to destroy them by the second quarter due to superior talent on the field.
Oklahoma is ranked number nine with only one loss. The loss came at the most unfortunate time against Kansas State. But, this loss could help them in the end, because Kansas State is currently ranked in the top 25.
Oklahoma is known for its wizardry at the offensive end led by star coach Lincoln Riley and the star Alabama graduate transfer, Jalen Hurts. Everyone loves Hurts. He has become a superior high draft pick after gaining tutelage from the college football’s quarterback whisper. With weapons all over field and track like speed from C.D. Lamb and Rambo, Hurts has taken the league by storm with some gaudy numbers. This offense could not meet the mustard against Kansas State due to turnovers and time of lost possession. Kansas State ran amuck and beat them despite a valiant comeback effort by Jalen. Oklahoma can beat Baylor and win the Big 12 title game, but they will need some serious help if creep into the top four for a shot of the playoff.
Oregon checks in at seven and Utah is listed at eight. Now, you are probably wondering why I mention them together. They are helping each other out. These two teams are on a collision course to face each other at the Pac 12 title game. Now with that said, I believe that if Oregon wins out, they will be IN. Yes, I said it! The PAC12 has a decent shot. Oregon has won impressively and their only loss was on a neutral site against Auburn who needs a last-second effort to beat them. Speed, talent, and stars Oregon possess, but Utah has a top-five defense and a top-five running back. This will be a highly anticipated matchup and all eyes will be upon the PAC12 to see who comes out. Utah’s loss to USC will hurt them if they should win out to have a shot at the playoff.
Georgia is listed at number 6. Georgia impressively defeat Florida and Notre Dame on live national television, but has one big scratch on the resume. They lost to South Carolina which was deemed the upset of the year until Wisconsin happily stole that distinction from them. They beat Florida and will face the number 11 team Auburn this year as well. The SEC is tough and unforgiving with the in-conference opponents, however, with some help, Georgia has a shot at the playoff.
Clemson who appears to be in prime position is listed at number 5. Undefeated in the ACC, however, this is with some scrutiny. Let me explain! Clemson schedule is the weakest of the top 10 teams. I know people will say that I’m hating, but here are the facts. Clemson barely owns against North Carolina, but has Charlotte a group of 5 team and Wofford, an FCS team during the time in which Florida is playing Georgia. The timing of that game was the absolute worst. They would have been better off on a bye week. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne only appear to be Heisman candidates on weaker teams. They will not face too much difficulty on the schedule for only Wake Forest looms and the Coastal Division champion which at this point is a toss-up to meet at the ACC title game. Sure, Clemson is ranked high on statistics, but you must face the elephant in the room. Whom have they played that was competition? A three-loss Texas A&M who will be 8-5 at the end of the year and South Carolina who beat Georgia, but they faced Appalachian State and Texas A&M.
I will lay this path out there for the world to see. Clemson is out unless they decisively defeat Wake Forest and embarrass South Carolina. This gives Clemson a comparison with common opponents since Georgia lost to South Carolina. And they will need some major help, they will need Penn State, Alabama, and Oregon to all lose 1 game to be guaranteed a shot at the playoff. Dabo Swinney must coach them up to it to the task. I get it. In order to be the man, you must beat the man. They simply do not look like a dominant contender at the moment. Clemson has not lost a game since Jalen Hurts beat them during the National Championship semi-final game (Sugar Bowl) 2017 on Jan 1, 2018.
Penn State shocked the world is now in the top four. The eyes of the college football will be upon the largest American football stadium in the world in Happy Valley. They have a tall order ahead of them with on this menu is an undefeated Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio State, and Rutgers. Penn State knows the mission. Their mission is to win and the rest will take care of itself. WIN and YOU ARE IN. One loss will knock Penn State out of the top four and the Big 10 title game. There is so much on the line for the Nittany Lions. I am looking forward to viewing that game for the ye test and common opponent metric. K.J. Hamler is the one to watch. He is lightning quick with Sean Clifford throwing darts, but the staple of Penn State is the tough, hard defense. Can they do the unthinkable and upset Ohio State?
Alabama checked in at number three and LSU checks in at number two. As if Nick Saban does not need to give this team any more energy, they will face the number two team in the nation, LSU, on Nov. 10, which will be dubbed the Game of the Century part two at Bryant-Denny Stadium on CBS. Saban used to coach LSU. This game is personal and business at the same time.
Both teams will launch their recruiting springboards to the national stage from this game. Both teams will attempt to stake their claim as the dominant force in the SEC. This will probably be the game of the year. This will be dandy because, for the first time in a decade, the defense will not be the staple. It is the unstoppable offenses who have gashed their opponents and allowed these teams to tinker their personnel and packages. Both teams boast NFL quality wide receivers, lineman, secondary, and even assistant coaches. They are friends off the field and fierce competitors on the field. People are saying Alabama has faced absolutely nobody. And guess what, they are right. They have faced no one that was a challenge to them. They have steamrolled their opponents by averaging over 40 points a game. But opponents such as Duke, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Ole Miss, normally do not produce quality wins. It is simple. Alabama is now in a MUST WIN situation. They must beat LSU at home. But it is Alabama. The game is in Alabama where Nick Saban is 78-4 at home career wise at Tuscaloosa. LSU defense, Cam Newton, Johnny (Football) Manizel and Ole Miss were the only things that stopped them at home. The recipe to beat Alabama at T-Town is a Heisman Trophy Candidate or a dominant defense.
Whether it is by 25 or by 1, they must win. If they lose, the only other ranked they will play is number 11 Auburn at the Iron Bowl on the road. In order words, Alabama’s schedule is only slightly better than Clemson. However, the number 2 team, LSU can afford one loss and STILL WILL BE A TOP 4 team because of its resume and impressive wins on the road at Texas and Florida and at home versus Auburn. All 3 teams were ranked in the top 10 when they faced off. Now, the Texas win has slightly lost some luster because Texas is having an off year. LSU finally has a quarterback in the Ohio State transfer by the name of Joe Burrow is the clubhouse leader in the current Heisman race. LSU has averaging over 35 points a game and has a slew talent surrounding the team in all phases of the game. This resume would lead you to think that they are number one. As in, they are the best team in the league. This has nothing to do with bias by simply the truth. LSU must remain focus on the task at hand. Beat Alabama. Then, they can steamroll their way into the SEC title game and win that too to be guaranteed a higher seed or remain entrenched at number two.
The best team in the nation is Ohio State. While currently at number one, they have simply put together a complete team. Chase Young and Justin Fields are surely to be in New York as Heisman Finalists. They can wreck a game plan in a hurry. This team beat their opponents soundly and without any hesitation. Ohio State’s schedule is better than all top 10 opponents. They beat Cincinnati, Indiana and Wisconsin. They also have Penn State on the schedule along with Michigan in December and if they win those, then the Big 10 title game. It is easy for Ohio State. Win and you are in.
The debate for number one has lit a match. LSU has certainly been impressive, but the eye test versus Ohio State where the committee gave the edge to Ohio State. They look better than them. They look better than everyone. They have displayed no weaknesses thus far and all of the numbers and data even support this. Men and women lie, but those numbers don’t.
The committee only has four spots to give out. There is so much on the line from here on out. These four teams will play in the semifinal games at the Playstation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, AZ and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA. The national championship game will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
The number one team during the initial rankings of the college football playoffs has never won the national title.
The consolation prize is the rest of New Years’ six bowl games which will be the Goodyear Cotton Bowl –– Capital One Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Goodyear Cotton Bowl normally hots two at-large teams which essentially means whomever they feel is deserving. Capital One Orange Bowl will host the ACC best team or winner versus an SEC/Big 10/Independent. Rose Bowl is solid lockdown with the Big 10 and Pac12. The Sugar Bowl will host the Big 12 and SEC best winners.
Overall, the debate is still ongoing. These rankings will change week to week. Some teams have no hope. Some teams are living on a prayer. All for the prize to be called a national champion. Coaches need validation. Players need vindication. The fans deserve the right to spend on money, talent, and time on a deserving team. Does your team have what it takes? Who are you rooting for? Stake your claim in the comments.