The College Football Playoff committee’s second rankings of 2017 released ahead of Week 11. Despite Week 10 feeling like a really eventful one, damage from the only major upsets was contained inside the Big Ten East. So this week’s new top 25 has few major changes, but a little bit clearer Playoff picture.
It’s still very early, and these will fluctuate quite a bit before Selection Sunday. Explanations on some things about this week and the committee’s general process are below these rankings.
Now we know the full stakes we’ll have for Georgia-Auburn, Notre Dame-Miami, TCU-Oklahoma, and Michigan State-Ohio State on Saturday.
Updated College Football Playoff rankings
- Georgia (9-0, 1 last week, at Auburn this week)
- Alabama (9-0, 2, at Mississippi State)
- Notre Dame (8-1, 3, at Miami)
- Clemson (8-1, 4, Florida State)
- Oklahoma (8-1, 5, TCU)
- TCU (8-1, 8, at Oklahoma)
- Miami (8-0, 10, Notre Dame)
- Wisconsin (9-0, 9, Iowa)
- Washington (8-1, 12, at Stanford)
- Auburn (7-2, 14, Georgia)
- USC (8-2, 17, at Colorado)
- Michigan State (7-2, 24, at Ohio State)
- Ohio State (7-2, 6, Michigan State)
- Penn State (7-2, 7, Rutgers)
- Oklahoma State (7-2, 11, at Iowa State)
- Mississippi State (7-2, 16, Alabama)
- Virginia Tech (7-2, 13, at Georgia Tech)
- UCF (8-0, 18, UConn)
- Washington State (8-2, 25, at Utah)
- Iowa (6-3, unranked, at Wisconsin)
- Iowa State (6-3, 15, Oklahoma State)
- Memphis (8-1, 23, Bye)
- NC State (6-3, 20, at Boston College)
- LSU (6-3, 19, Arkansas)
- Northwestern (6-3, unranked, Purdue)
UGA remains the simple choice for No. 1 right now.
Out of the five undefeated teams, Georgia has the two best wins -- at Notre Dame and a blowout of Mississippi State. Otherwise, it’s splattered teams with a ruthless defense and with the absolute basics on offense.
Alabama’s got half as many quality wins, having now beaten LSU. Miami has a great win over Virginia Tech, but a lot of close calls. Wisconsin’s schedule has only slightly improved. And UCF is a mid-major, something the committee’s never had much interest in.
Everybody else has a loss.
Regardless of the rankings, here’s the Playoff picture.
This is the rough order of DESTINY CONTROLLERS going forward. If you wanna mix up this middle group, please feel free.
- Alabama or Georgia.
- Clemson or Miami (would include win over Notre Dame).
- Notre Dame. The committee’s already said the Irish won’t be punished for not winning a conference.
- Big Ten champ Wisconsin. I’ve worried about UW’s schedule a lot, but let’s take a fresh look. A 13-0 Power 5 champ with wins over the Big Ten East champ, Iowa, Michigan, and maybe four other bowl teams would clear at least three of four observable benchmarks, and maybe all four. Beating Ohio State would also take a little bite out of OU’s schedule. I had the Badgers in the CFP this week, but their injury situation is their new concern.
- Big 12 champ Oklahoma (win at Ohio State still counts, but bad defense and lots of close wins) or TCU (the committee evidently really likes the Frogs, despite their best win losing at home to OU).
- Washington (12-1’s most likely good enough, assuming some help).
Also on the table:
- Georgia, with an SEC Championship loss. Wins at Notre Dame and Auburn would come in handy here.
These teams face wild odds, but aren’t necessarily out yet:
- Auburn, with wins over Georgia, Alabama, and Georgia again.
- UCF, if the committee is fooled by the AAC’s “Power 6” branding.
- Another two-loss champ? Not seeing any with anywhere near the resume Auburn could have.
The committee goes by two things: schedule strength and eyeballin’. The first one’s easy to calculate.
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 Connelly’s even more advanced Resume S&P+.
The eyeballin’ part is hard to predict.
What do a bunch of athletic directors know about quality football that the rest of us don’t? Who knows!
This is the stuff committee rep Kirby Hocutt (used to be Jeff Long) will get made fun of for trying to explain in 90 seconds on ESPN during the rankings show. Game control! Body clocks!
The committee does use stats during its deliberations. To try and grade team strength beyond just my own opinions, I first turn to Bill’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.