clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bama’s No. 1 in new College Football Playoff rankings after SHAKEUP SATURDAY

Two of the top three lost, Miami and Auburn soared, and pretty much everything looks a little bit different now.

The College Football Playoff committee’s third top-25 ranking of 2017 is released in full below. Alabama’s your new No. 1, taking over for Georgia after the Dawgs got embarrassed at Auburn.

Whereas Week 11 was humongous, Week 12 is more of a table-setter. Unless we get a few upsets, No. 24 Michigan at No. 5 Wisconsin could be the only really big game, other than some teams locking up conference title shots. Let’s have faith in upsets. (Still, Rivalry Week begins five days later, so madness is inbound one way or the other.)

It’s still a little early, and these will fluctuate quite a bit before Selection Sunday. Notes on a couple of things about this week and the committee’s general process are below these rankings.

Updated College Football Playoff rankings

  1. Alabama (10-0, No. 2 last week, against Mercer this week)
  2. Clemson (9-1, 4, Citadel)
  3. Miami (9-0, 7, Virginia)
  4. Oklahoma (9-1, 5, at Kansas)
  5. Wisconsin (10-0, 8, Michigan)
  6. Auburn (8-2, 10, ULM)
  7. Georgia (9-1, 1, Kentucky)
  8. Notre Dame (8-2, 3, Navy)
  9. Ohio State (8-2, 13, Illinois)
  10. Penn State (8-2, 14, Nebraska)
  11. USC (9-2, 11, UCLA)
  12. TCU (8-2, 6, at Texas Tech)
  13. Oklahoma State (8-2, 15, Kansas State)
  14. Washington State (9-2, 19, bye)
  15. UCF (9-0, 18, at Temple)
  16. Mississippi State (7-3, 16, at Arkansas)
  17. Michigan State (7-3, 12, Maryland)
  18. Washington (8-2, 9, Utah)
  19. NC State (7-3, 23, at Wake Forest)
  20. LSU (7-3, 24, at Tennessee)
  21. Memphis (8-1, 22, SMU)
  22. Stanford (7-3, unranked, Cal)
  23. Northwestern (7-3, 25, Minnesota)
  24. Michigan (8-2, unranked, at Wisconsin)
  25. Boise State (8-2, unranked, Air Force)

Alabama isn’t a perfect No. 1, but it’s the best choice at the moment.

The Tide have two top-20 wins (more in number than Wisconsin and Miami, too), a top-50 strength of schedule in plenty of ratings (unlike Wisconsin), and otherwise haven’t been challenged (which Miami can’t claim).

Does Bama have long-term worries? Absolutely, such as all sorts of backup linebackers having to go to Auburn in two weeks, after a gimme against Mercer. But this Tuesday (and thus next Tuesday as well), the committee will keep it simple.

Clemson at No. 2 is a little bit of a surprise (I guessed it’d be Oklahoma and then Miami), but check the wins.

Beating Auburn means a lot at this point. NC State remains pretty curiously high, so that’s another nice win. And Clemson’s knack for playing schedules stuffed with bowl teams continues again this year, with a 7-0 record against .500-plus teams so far (and a somewhat forgivable, injury-marred loss at Syracuse). The Tigers also haven’t played a whole bunch of close games against lesser teams, as Miami and Oklahoma have — other than the, uh, one they lost. Miami hasn’t lost. Anyway!

Regardless of the rankings, here’s the Playoff picture.

In no particular order, here are your DESTINY CONTROLLERS. If these teams reach these records with conference titles, they’re in.

  • The ACC champ (12-1 Clemson, 11-1 or better Miami).
  • The SEC champ (13-0 Alabama, 11-2 Auburn, or 12-1 Georgia).
  • 12-1 Oklahoma.
  • 13-0 Wisconsin.

That’s actually pretty clean, considering we’ve already got weird stuff like two-loss contenders.

But somebody’s gonna lose. So we’re likely to dip into this group for at least one team:

  • 12-1 Alabama, 11-1 Alabama, 12-1 Wisconsin, 11-2 Ohio State, 11-2 USC, another 11-2 conference champ, or — ok, we have to cut it off here, because this has already gone too far — a 10-2 Notre Dame.

The committee tries to rank teams by how it perceives their quality over the full season.

What do a bunch of athletic directors know about quality football that the rest of us don’t? Who knows!

This is the stuff the committee rep gets made fun of for trying to explain in 90 seconds on ESPN during the rankings show. Game control! Body clocks! Number of dramatic wins!

The committee does use stats during its deliberations. To try and grade team strength beyond just my own opinions, I first turn to Bill Connely’s S&P+. Committee metrics are a bit cruder, such as an offense’s performance compared to what its opponents usually allow, but probably suggest similar teams. We have no way of knowing for sure, lol.

When there’s a tie, the committee breaks it with strength of schedule, head-to-head, conference titles, and common opponents.

Based on three years, here are the schedule benchmarks for Playoff contention:

  • Finish with one or fewer losses (100 percent of Playoff teams have done this).
  • Beat at least three teams ranked in the committee’s Dec. 3 top 25 (100 percent).
  • Win a Power 5 conference (92 percent).
  • Beat at least six teams that have .500-plus records on Dec. 3 (100 percent).

Going above and beyond is advisable, though your schedule might not cooperate.

If you want a schedule math thing that correlates pretty well to committee rankings, I recommend the transparent CPI, ESPN’s more advanced Strength of Record, and Bill’s even more advanced Resume S&P+.