There were a couple of surprises, albeit rather small ones, with this week’s College Football Playoff rankings reveal. Ohio State jumped LSU for the No. 1 spot after taking care of 10th-ranked Penn State over the weekend. Elsewhere, Utah, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Baylor moved up thanks to the Nittany Lions’ loss.
So what does this all mean?
Ohio State Will Probably Keep the Top Spot
Beating Penn State—a team the committee really likes and ranked fourth in its original rankings a few weeks ago—resulted in the Buckeyes taking over the rankings this week. Will it last? Ohio State could finish as 13-0 Big Ten champs if it gets past No. 13 Michigan on Saturday and beats a likely top-10 foe in Minnesota or Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game the following week. Second-ranked LSU has to wrestle with Texas A&M this week and likely No. 4 Georgia in the SEC Championship.
Which end-of-season résumé looks better to you: Two top-15 wins or one top-four victory? This is college football, so it’s all very subjective, obviously, but there’s a pretty good chance the Tigers lost their No. 1 ranking for good.
Big 12 Has More Life Than We Thought
Oklahoma and Baylor have found themselves behind the top teams in the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 for much of this season. And the committee hasn’t really changed its feelings about these programs, or their conference. Until now. Baylor moved from No. 14 to No. 9 this week, and as was expressed on ESPN’s broadcast, we hardly believe this is due to what was an unassuming 24-10 win against mediocre Texas over the weekend.
It appears the Bears’ wins against Oklahoma State and Iowa State now carry much more weight than they used to, with the Cowboys and Cyclones coming in ranked 21 and 23, respectively, this week. The Sooners can have those two quality conference wins also if they handle the Pokes on the road this weekend. We’re not saying a 12-1 Big 12 champion will have an easy argument come Selection Sunday, but it certainly looks much better today than it did even a few days ago. (This is assuming neither Baylor nor OU trip up in their final regular-season games this weekend. If even one of them were to lose this weekend, the 12-1 conference champ’s record will look less convincing.)
Here are the full rankings:
1. Ohio State
10. Penn State
16. Notre Dame
20. Boise State
21. Oklahoma State
23. Iowa State
24. Virginia Tech
25. Appalachian State