Everyone's paranoid about the College Football Playoff, but that's exactly what we wanted. Who deserves to be in the top four? Martin Rickman ranks his playoff teams and the rest of the top 25 in this week's college football Power Rankings.

By Martin Rickman
December 02, 2014

As a college English major always looking for independent studies in order to spend more time off campus covering the football and basketball teams, the idea of an honors thesis appeared to be the perfect plan. I was already writing, so what damage could more writing do? Plus I was getting a bunch of credits and never had to step in a classroom!

Like many college kids, I didn’t quite think things through. My thesis was on paranoia in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, and after immersing in the text on the third or fourth reading, I started to get paranoid myself. Somewhere in between a rambling essay written after about 13 PBRs at the Blue Moon Diner in Charlottesville and wandering around Little Havana in a haze after Wake Forest was upset by Cleveland State at the NCAA tournament in March, I lost myself a little bit. Okay, I lost myself a lot.

That’s how I’ve started to feel this late in the season.

(O Brave New World.,

That Has Such Playoffs In’t)

So my mind drifted back to that spring and honed in on a quote from Gravity’s Rainbow that sums up we college football fans in the first year of the College Football Playoff better than anything I can write. “Paranoids are not paranoids because they’re paranoid,” Pynchon writes, “but because they keep putting themselves, f****** idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.”

We asked for this. We got exactly what we asked for. Now it’s time to see what hath college football wrought.

• ELLIS: Bowl Projections: Who's likely to make the playoff, all bowls?

Next five: Utah, Minnesota, Nebraska, USC, Duke

• STAPLES: What have we learned about the playoff so far?

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