Here are a few quick thoughts on the new College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night:
**--After No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Miami both lost over the Holiday weekend, Clemson moved to No. 1 and Auburn moved to No. 2 followed by No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Wisconsin. The rankings are important because if everybody wins out and those seeds hold, Clemson would go to Sugar Bowl and Auburn would travel out to the Rose Bowl to play their semifinals on Jan. 1.
**--As we wrote on Sunday, the committee will have an easy time if those four teams win their respective conference championships. All are favored except for Wisconsin (12-0), which is about a touchdown underdog to No. 8 Ohio State (10-2) in the Big Ten championship game.
**--The ACC champ (Clemson vs. Miami) and SEC Champ (Auburn vs. Georgia) are going to get in. If Oklahoma beats TCU (Big 12) the Sooners are in. But if TCU wins and Ohio State beats Wisconsin, that will open the door to No. 5 Alabama (11-1), whose season is over after losing at Auburn 26-14 last Saturday.
The most intriguing--and certainly heated--argument will be an 11-2 Ohio State, a Big Ten champion, against 11-1 Alabama, which had been ranked No. 1 in either the CFP rankings or AP Poll all season. Alabama's critics will look at the strength of schedule, which includes wins over only two ranked teams--No. 17 LSU (9-3) and No. 23 Mississippi State (8-4). Alabama's critics will also point out that the Crimson Tide, because of injuries, were not playing their best football at the end of the season.
Critics of Ohio State will point out that the Buckeyes have two very ugly losses. No. 3 Oklahoma came to Columbus and beat the Buckeyes on Sept. 9. Then, inexplicably, Ohio State lost at Iowa 55-24 on Nov. 4. Iowa finished 7-5.
The selection committee, however, set a precedent last season when it put 11-1 Ohio State into the playoffs despite the fact that Penn State (11-2) won the Big Ten championship. Would Ohio State get in this season BECAUSE it is a conference champ?
We'll find out on Sunday at Noon.