The first College Football Playoff rankings come out this Tuesday, and while there are many predictions and picks as to who will be in the first “final four” selections, I have a serious question.
Does it really even matter?
The answer is a definitive “no.” One only needs to look at last year’s College Football Playoff final rankings, as it did not mirror the first one of 2014 by a long shot. Florida State was the only team listed in the top four of those first rankings that actually made it to the Playoff. The others listed on Oct. 28, 2014: Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss. The eventual CFP champ – Ohio State – came in 16th in that first ranking.
The CFP committee has shown that they do not follow patterns from week to week, and that one ranking does not influence one in the future. TCU was ranked third in the second-to-last rankings last year, beat Iowa State 55-3 and promptly was dropped to the sixth spot in the final rankings. Makes perfect sense, right?
Who’s the Weak Link Gunna Be?
Last year it was clearly the Big 12, as both Baylor and TCU had legitimate gripes to be left out, but the lack of a conference championship game probably cost them. Could the Big 12 be left out again? You wouldn’t think so, but know this – Baylor and TCU are the league’s best candidates, and both have tough Novembers with games vs. OU and Oklahoma St., and of course the head-to-head in Ft. Worth. If no team goes undefeated, then it could spell trouble.
This year, honestly any team and conference could be the weak link. The SEC needs to be careful that Ole Miss doesn’t run the table and beat Florida. That’s a perfect recipe for the SEC to be left out. It might be the Pac-12 and Stanford, since they lost to Northwestern. But if the Cardinal can run the table (including a win over Notre Dame), perhaps they will be OK.
Unless Florida State beats Clemson this weekend, I don’t see any way that the Tigers are left out. Stranger things have happened though. Then there’s the Big Ten, with Ohio State and Michigan State as the main candidates.
Since I Brought it Up
Who’s going to be in the top-four for this first CFP ranking? Well, let’s start with the no-brainer – Clemson. A win over Notre Dame and impressive play of late surely has them in right now. LSU seems to be the other automatic with an impressive resume and the Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette.
The next two should be represented by the Big Ten and Big 12, respectively. Michigan State actually should get the nod over Ohio State right now, with a road win over a ranked team (Michigan). TCU deserves to be in right now over Baylor, as the Frogs have played a tougher schedule so far, and the injury to Seth Russell is a perception factor.
The Ones Left Standing
Again, these initial rankings do not matter. So who will be the four teams that get into the CFP this year?
Clemson: See my comments above about weak links. Clemson won’t be one.
Ohio State: They’ll beat Michigan State and Michigan and get their chance to defend their crown.
Alabama: They get LSU at home. Have you seen their front-seven on D?
TCU: This one’s tough, but I think it’s the Big 12’s best chance with the QB situation at Baylor. If the Frogs can win in Norman in a few weeks, they’ll run the table. Stanford and Notre Dame are waiting, though, in case all of the Big 12 teams falter (which is very possible).