CFP Rankings Analysis: How Long Will the Respect for LSU Last?

LSU didn't fall far in the rankings after the Crimson Tide walloped the Tigers last week. How long will the committee continue to hold LSU in high regard?
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­­Can you feel the excitement? It's the second College Football Playoff rankings of 2018! Oh wait, the top five turned out to be precisely what we thought it would be. As of now, the playoff field consists of Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan in that order.

So no real drama this week, but there was some shuffling lower in the rankings. West Virginia surged to No. 9 after taking down Texas, jumping in front of fellow one-loss team Ohio State. Meanwhile LSU only fell to No. 7 after getting walloped by 'Bama. At two losses, the Tigers still find themselves ahead of one-loss Washington State, WVU and Ohio State.

Here’s what else we learned this week.


The committee likes to make its evaluations based on the information it has at the moment. Teams sometimes start to fall down the rankings due to their easy schedules if and when the teams behind them beat stronger opponents. LSU is currently ahead of three one-loss teams that can still win their respective Power-5 leagues—Washington State, West Virginia and Ohio State. If any combination of those teams earns conference titles, they are sure to leapfrog LSU. But just for kicks, let’s say that doesn’t happen and then the favorites in the Big 12 (Oklahoma), Big Ten (Michigan) and Pac-12 (Wazzu) and/or Notre Dame all fall. Could 10-2 LSU slide into the playoff once the rubble clears? Just a fun hypothetical to consider after seeing how highly committee members feel about Coach O’s bunch right now.

DELLENGER: The D-Line Play in Alabama—Mississippi State Is Appointment Viewing


So much for all that “the ACC is Clemson and then a bunch of meh” talk. Four teams from the ACC Atlantic are ranked in the top 17: Clemson at No. 2, followed by No. 13 Syracuse, No. 14 NC State and No. 17 Boston College. It’s still very much Clemson or bust as far as playoff talk is concerned (unless we get the insanity that ends with BC there), but it’s a big strength-of-schedule boost for the conference’s presumed champion. If the Tigers win out none of this matters, but if they were to drop a game at some point and upsets happen elsewhere, a one-loss Clemson backed up by this schedule would look good when the committee is picking its final four teams in December. It’s not of much import now, but worth keeping in mind in case some other top teams begin to fall.


The playoff committee looks at this UCF team much like it did last year’s: the Knights are good enough to be one of the nation’s top-15 teams, so they’ll be ranked somewhere in there but won’t move much at all. UCF hasn’t had a very difficult schedule and the past week’s results (including the Knights’ close win) wasn’t really enough to make much of a difference for these rankings. However, having a team like two-loss Kentucky still ahead of UCF means that even if all hell breaks loose, we are most likely not seeing the highest-ranked mid-major land in the top four.

STAPLES: How the 10 Teams Still Alive for the College Football Playoff Can Make the Final Four

The full rankings are below.

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Notre Dame

4. Michigan

5. Georgia

6. Oklahoma

7. LSU

8. Washington State

9. West Virginia

10. Ohio State

11. Kentucky

12. UCF

13. Syracuse

14. NC State

15. Florida

16. Mississippi State

17. Boston College

18. Michigan State

19. Texas

20. Penn State

21. Iowa

22. Iowa State

23. Fresno State

24. Auburn

25. Washington