As we enter the world of the College Football Playoff poll, Clemson is the No. 1 ranked team in the nation.
The committee agreed with the advanced stats, strength of record, etc. that Clemson is the top team at the moment, spurning brand names LSU and Ohio State and putting the Tigers at No. 1. Clemson puts that shiny new ranking on the line against Florida State this weekend.
It seemed it could be a toss-up between Clemson and LSU for the top spot, but the committee has essentially stated its position that it is more impressed with Clemson's win over Notre Dame than LSU's over Florida. It seems all but a certainty, however, that LSU would move to the No. 1 spot should it beat Alabama this week, regardless of what Clemson does.
3. Ohio State
Despite being the defending national champion, the Buckeyes resume just doesn't stack up to either of the aforementioned Tigers' at this juncture.
There's no justification for Alabama being in the top 4 right now. It's amazing how willing people are to simply ignore that this team has a loss because of "how talented they are" and the "eye test" and other ridiculous reasons. Is Alabama talented? Of course. But guess what? They play games for a reason, and Alabama lost at home to an Ole Miss team that lost to Memphis. If you're going to rank teams on perceived talent, why even play the games? Just give Alabama the title every year. The Tide had to engineer second-half comebacks to beat mediocre Tennessee and Arkansas teams and owns just one decent win over Texas A&M. If this team's name was anything besides "Alabama", it would be nowhere near the top 4. Beat LSU, and then we'll talk.
5. Notre Dame
The Irish are also a bit high for my taste, but at least their lone loss is on the road to the No. 1 ranked team. Perhaps a bit of brand name bias here as well?
The committee once again sent a message about Baylor's strength (or weakness) of schedule, but if the Bears run the table, they won't have to worry about missing the playoff. Suffer a loss though, and they could be in trouble.
7. Michigan State
Sparty has to be a bit disconcerted with this ranking. It's likely undefeated or bust for this team's playoffs hopes judging by this placement.
Surprised to see the Frogs this low, but they have been playing well of late and have prime opportunities for quality wins coming up — starting this Saturday at Oklahoma State.
Not much here aside from road wins over Wisconsin and Northwestern. Not really sure how you can view Iowa this much more favorably than a team like Oklahoma State, which comes in at No. 14.
This is a good place to reiterate the point made earlier about Alabama. The Gators and Tide have identical records with some similar results (close wins over Tennessee, blowout wins over Georgia), while Alabama has a loss at home to the No. 18 team (which Florida beat by four touchdowns) and Florida has a close loss on the road against the No. 2 team. Explain to me how Alabama is ranked six spots higher than Florida. Because it beat Wisconsin???
Stanford had looked great for weeks, but you have to wonder if its close win at Washington State this week gave the committee pause. This ranking is bad news for the Pac 12, which needs either Stanford or Utah to win out to even have a chance at sending a team to the playoff.
Similarly to Stanford, Utah has no margin for error at this point if it has designs on reaching the playoff.
With how willing the committee was to dismiss Alabama's loss to Ole Miss, you would think it may have considered ranking Memphis higher based on their two-touchdown win over the Rebels. I don't see a scenario where Memphis gets in contention for a top-4 spot.
14. Oklahoma State
The undefeated Cowboys can garner significantly more respect if they can knock off TCU at home on Saturday.
Looking for a darkhorse, a la Ohio State last season? The Sooners have a dreadful loss on the resume (Texas), but they have been slaughtering opponents ever since and get shots at three teams currently ranked ahead of them to reassert themselves in the playoff conversation.
16. Florida State
The committee, much like last year, appears to not be particularly impressed with the Seminoles, and FSU will have to win out to have any kind of chance to make the field.
Not out of the race for the Big Ten championship, but out of the playoff hunt.
18. Ole Miss
Similarly, the Rebels control their own destiny in the SEC West and could serve as a playoff spoiler to their own conference.
19. Texas A&M
I guess a win over South Carolina means all is well...
20. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs' two losses are forgiveable I suppose, but they also don't have any quality wins.
Really riding that win over Stanford, as the Wildcats have been beaten by at least 30 twice.
Temple proved it was for real against Notre Dame and should probably be a couple spots higher.
The Bruins' overall resume is good enough for a top-25 ranking in my estimation.
No need to discuss the Rockets, who lost to Northern Illinois just hours after the poll was released.
Basically "Baylor Lite", Houston has been blasting every opponent, but its strength of schedule to this point is dreadful.