Two weeks to go and there is still quite to battle to take place for the four slots in the College Football Playoff. The worst loss amongst the top seven contenders is held by Ohio State, but its hard to hold it against them too much considering how much they’ve improved since Sept. 6.Baylor also has an underwhelming loss to West Virginia. TCU, on the other hand, has an impressive win against Kansas State, but lost head-to-head to Baylor. All three of these teams are going to need someone in the top four to maintain hope. Mississippi State and Alabama each only have one win against a top 25 opponent, but with losses to quality opposition have the edge over Baylor, Ohio State, and TCU.
It was about that time. Mississippi State was bound to lose soon enough. They’ve played one of the tougher conference schedules in the SEC, and battled through perfectly, until Alabama. Before the season the writing was on the wall, MSU would be a winning team. But no one expected them to do this well. Against a greater talented Alabama they couldn’t pull out another surprising victory and a week after putting them in my top spot, they’ve now fallen to No. 5. Florida State, after another shaky performance, takes over No. 1. Why, you ask? Because they keep winning. The final three weeks of the season are going to provide an exciting race to make the playoffs between the top seven, and my betting favorites are my current top four.
Three weeks into the weekly College Football Playoff Rankings, strength of schedule is the phrase on everybody’s tongue. Unlike the traditional polls, the playoff committee has proven to have no problem with ranking certain teams ahead of others with fewer losses, based on SOS. Likewise, other teams with weaker schedules have suffered the consequences. With such an apparent heavy emphasis on body of work, it would seem we are working towards finding the best four teams. However, there are some interesting dilemmas at hand. Florida State, Baylor and Nebraska are three teams I’ve yet to figure out, and I think the committee too.
The Playoff Committee’s week 11 ranking is out, so in fitting time here is mine. There are some small differences between ours, most notably at the No. 1 position. Mississippi State is the consensus top team in the nation with very strong wins over LSU and Auburn, but watching FSU in their last two I saw a team who at the flip of a switch can turn into the most dominant team in the nation. MSU on the other hand, has been the most consistent team throughout the season. If it came down to it, I think FSU would beat MSU head-to-head. At No. 3, Auburn is the most dangerous team in the country and has the body of work to prove it, but that one loss is keeping me from placing them first. The entire rankings are as follows, and this week promises to shake things up, but also provide more clarity in regards to teams like Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State, and even Alabama, who also has yet to defeat a top 20 opponent.
Rarely does a national champion repeat in college football. The intervening factors that come between a 105-plus man roster and an undefeated season are so abundant, that the odds of repeated glory are against that team. Even so, Florida State brings back 13 starters, including Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston, arguably the nations top defense, and another manageable schedule. For these reasons, many are tabbing them defy the odds. I’m not. Though they have their weaknesses, Oregon has, in my opinion, the best player in the nation, Marcus Mariota. The Ducks’ supporting cast is great with a strong offensive line, 1,000-yard rusher, and playmakers on defense. I think this is finally their year. My other two projected playoff teams are Georgia and Oklahoma. I may be taking a small leap with these two teams, but the talent is there for both win their conferences. Potential playoff spoilers that I have listed in my top 25 are Notre Dame, Mississippi, Michigan, and Texas.
After watching the Alabama vs. Georgia game this past Saturday, I find it hard justifying Ohio State as the No. 2 best football team in the country despite being undefeated. It wasn’t just that Alabama looked like the better team, but also that the best team Ohio State played all year — Nebraska — lost 70-31 to five-loss Wisconsin. By now we all know the Big Ten is weak, and with Ohio State not defeating any non-conference team of significance, I decided that Alabama’s two wins over Top Ten teams, as well as Florida’s three wins, warranted them both a higher ranking than Ohio State. It was a hard decision to make, but boy did Florida earn it with that brutal conference schedule they played. They lost to Georgia, whom Alabama defeated, but they also beat Texas A&M, whom ‘Bama lost to. With the better non-conference and conference schedule, I feel that Florida deserves the No. 2 ranking.
In this weeks rankings Notre Dame has completed their first undefeated season since 1988 and firmly sealed up the No. 1 place in the PanCirco NCAA FBS poll. I said before that a win over Michigan could solidify Ohio State’s No. 2 spot — I even picked against them — and they went out and got the job done. Florida has once again gone out and defeated a top ten team, even though Alabama would likely be favored in a head-to-head matchup, I have to reward Florida for proving their worth on the field. Alabama has defeated two top-25 teams in Michigan and LSU. They need a win over Georgia in the SEC Championship game to possibly finish the regular season second or third. Georgia is a solid team both defensively and offensively, and like Alabama they need a win in the SEC championship game to move up. Texas A&M dropped from sixth to ninth after much consideration. I may have overrated them a little too much based off their win over Alabama. With two losses it was hard to keep them ahead of one-loss Georgia and Kansas State despite the latter’s ugly loss to Baylor. Stanford has beaten three top-15 teams in a row; they are the best two-loss team in my opinion. Clemson dropped out of the rankings with a loss and Nebraska entered.
The top 15 power poll is comprised of a few factors. It is only determined by team performances from week one up to the current week of the season. Anything from the previous year has been thrown out the window. The two biggest factors determining a given team’s rank are who that team has beaten and how good that team has performed (A combination of where they rank in scoring offense/defense, total yards offense/defense, the eye test, etc.). I try not to be lured by style points as many teams strengths and weaknesses match up differently with other teams’ — and in the end all that matters is winning. No poll will be perfect, but feel free to leave a comment whether you agree or disagree.
A serious argument can be made for Notre Dame at No. 1. They have played the toughest schedule to date of the top three undefeated teams. While that may or may not change in the coming weeks, Oregon appears to be the most dominant team in the country. If ND gets past Wake Forest and USC, they will likely grab the No. 1 spot. While one through three can be arranged in any order between Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon, four through eight is also a mix-up of teams with which any order can be argued for. Texas A&M, LSU and Florida have clearly tougher schedules than Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. However the latter three are generally ranked higher than the first three. In rewarding perfection — a team can only beat whoever is put in front of them — I moved Ohio State up from eighth last week to four this week. Each of the five SEC teams own a win over one of the others which makes it hard to differentiate between them. Up to week 12, I ranked them simply as who I feel is the best team.
Stanford broke into the top 15 with their win over Oregon State, who remained at No. 15. Clemson, South Carolina, and Oklahoma each moved up a spot while Florida State dropped down one. Louisville, who suffered their first lost of the season, fell out of the rankings.
By José Santana
We have now arrived at week 11 of the college football season. Below is how I have ranked my top 15 schools through the first 10 weeks.