With only three more Saturdays left before "Selection Sunday," the College Football Playoff Committee prepares to announce later Tuesday its second official rankings. During a typical season, Championship Saturday is usually the week after Thanksgiving or "rivalry weekend," but the delay of the season because of COVID-19 has pushed things back a few weeks. The conference championship games are scheduled for Dec. 19, barring any cancellations of other games.
With that, here's the way project how the rankings for this week will shape up.
There wasn't too much shakeup this past weekend with only a few top-25 teams losing. Two of the losses were bigger than the others, with No. 9 Northwestern falling in an upset loss to Michigan State 29-20 and No. 15 Oregon losing in its annual rivalry game against Oregon State 41-38. Northwestern's loss was significant because it was their first loss of the season, leaving Ohio State as the only undefeated team in the Big 10. The playoff was already a long-shot for Oregon, but now it's almost impossible for the Ducks to make their second-ever appearance. The result is that the committee is likely to have no Big 12 or Pac 12 teams represented in the playoff this year.
The remainder of the top 10 took care of business Saturday. Alabama appears to be the team to beat yet again as the Tide dominated Auburn in the Iron Bowl. It would take a miracle for Alabama to not make the playoff with its only significant opponent left on the schedule being a likely game against Florida in the SEC Championship.
The top-heavy ACC appears to have already figured itself out this season, with Notre Dame and Clemson by far the best two teams. Both have an excellent shot at staying in the top four for the rest of the season and maybe even the playoff. This would likely happen if Clemson beat Notre Dame in their second matchup.
The Big 10 could be in trouble if they cannot get enough games played. Ohio State had another matchup canceled, so if the Buckeyes aren't able to play against Michigan State this week or Michigan the following week, they will be ineligible to make the conference title game according to Big 10 rules. This could cause some significant ruckus for the committee at the end of the year. Imagine having to decide whether 5-0 Ohio State or 9-1 Texas A&M should be selected. Regardless, if Ohio State continues to play and win they will be in the playoff.
The teams on the outside looking in had a good Saturday. Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia all won their games by 20 or more points against inferior opponents. Out of these teams, Florida is the only one that controls its destiny. They can clinch the SEC East for the first time since 2016 with a win over Tennessee Saturday in Knoxville. Texas A&M has an outside shot by winning out and banking on Florida losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship.
Let's not forget about the Bearcats from Cincinnati. Could this be the first year we see a non-Power 5 team make the playoff? Cincinnati is undefeated and could sneak into the playoff if some major shakeup happens in the top six teams. The Bearcats' powerful offense could help turn some heads on the committee. They could make the case that they deserve a shot this year if they get some help.
With that being said, there probably won't be much difference from last week's rankings. It's going to be difficult for the committee to determine who the top four teams are this year, especially with the shortened season. The "eye test" that the committee likes to use for its formula of picking the top teams might be hard to achieve because some teams won't even play eight games.
Here is a look at the CFP projections by Dawgs Daily on SI.com:
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- Ohio State