The 2017 College Football Playoff rankings are out for week 13 as we enter the last regular season college football games. This season has come and gone way too quickly for my taste, but it’s been an exciting one, for sure.
The College Football Playoff committee is going to have a lot to think about if Ohio State comes out victorious over Michigan on Saturday, as they would have to decide whether or not to include two B1G teams or explore the possibility of leaving out a one-loss Buckeye squad two years in a row, or even the B1G Champion. A Buckeye loss on Saturday, and the job of the committee becomes a lot easier.
We enter week 11 with the following CFP rankings:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
At this point, there’s just not enough that could happen to get a three loss team in. I’m also leaving out a one-loss Boise State and undefeated Western Michigan, as their rankings of 19 and 21, respectively, are not going to get much higher after one or two more wins.
So we’re narrowed down to 10 teams. Only four can get in, and we know (at this point) that the committee gives more value to conference champions. Let’s break down what would have to happen for these 10 teams to make the playoff.
10. Louisville Cardinals – Louisville’s only chance at a college football playoff after a beat down at Houston last week is for a massacre to happen at the top. Alabama would essentially have to lose twice. An Ohio State win over Michigan would put them in ahead of Louisville. Michigan would have to beat OSU and then lose the B1G Championship. A two-loss OSU, Michigan, and/or Alabama would still trump a two-loss Louisville as well. The last two spots would still require likely the rest of the top 10 to lose as well, which is unlikely.
Verdict – No chance
9. Colorado Buffaloes – This is a team that kept Michigan on their heals earlier in the season and have since surprised the nation by going on a tear after a close road loss to USC. They have #22 Utah to close the season which will be a tough home closer.
If they beat Utah, they get the winner of Washington/Washington State. They beat the Cougars in week 12 convincingly, but assuming #5 Washington pulls out the victory, the chances for Colorado are slimmer. If they win-out versus Utah and Washington, they’re likely sitting at #7 or #6 with #5 being the ceiling as a two-loss Pac-12 squad. If they win-out against Utah and Washington State, the resume is less impressive and they sit at #7 or #8.
Verdict – Extremely unlikely
8. Oklahoma Sooners – Here’s where it gets tricky. We already know that this rating may as well be #7 as the loser of Ohio State/Michigan would likely fall just a spot behind them with the recent tear they’ve been on since being embarrassed in Norman on September 18th.
A Bedlam Series win against #10 Oklahoma State makes them a suitable candidate for playoff contention despite what happened in last year’s playoff. Oklahoma is really counting on Penn State to falter, preferably at Michigan State, to keep them from a potential B1G championship win.
Should PSU falter, Michigan beat Ohio State and then Wisconsin on the B1G championship, there just may be a spot for the Sooners after all. However, if PSU makes it to the B1G championship, they’ll have to hope that Wisconsin slips up against Minnesota, otherwise too much would need to happen likely to jump past a second B1G team, Clemson and Washington.
Verdict – Lots of help needed
7. Penn State Nittany Lions – Since getting a beat down by the Wolverines in Week 4, the Nittany Lions have done all they can that they belong in the CFP picture. Penn State needs to beat a Michigan State team that just took Ohio State down to the wire a week ago, AND an Ohio State victory over Michigan. A Michigan win takes Penn State out of the equation, as a two-loss non-conference champion would be a travesty to include in the top four. I think that it’s entirely possible for Penn State to slip up against Michigan State in a defensive game under cold conditions.
The dilemma comes with deciding who is superior between Ohio State and Penn State. The argument for Penn State is that they beat them head to head, however, a two-loss B1G Champion over a one-loss team with an incredible resume is certainly debatable. Penn State needs to take care of business against Michigan State, have Michigan lose, and win the B1G championship, while then seeing a Washington and/or Clemson lose to have a sniff. After the awful playoff games in 2016, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Penn State fail the eye test and get left out.
Verdict – Not impossible, but unlikely
6. Wisconsin Badgers – Wisconsin is a win against Minnesota away from another B1G Championship try. Their last attempt didn’t go so well after getting knocked down hard by Ohio State, en route to a National Championship run. They’ll have to get past Michigan, Penn State or Ohio State, which could very well be Penn State, who they match-up much better against. The only losses Wisconsin has are against #4 Michigan and #2 Ohio State in back to back weeks after a strong start against #5 LSU to open the season.
Wisconsin didn’t blow anyone out of the water on their schedule, which would be the biggest concern if I were a part of the committee. They suffered single digit losses, but also had single digit wins against Georgia State and Nebraska. They haven’t played a worthy opponent since Nebraska either. If Wisconsin wins the B1G against Michigan or even Ohio State, they’re a lock for the playoff. A B1G Championship win over Penn State may not be enough to convince the committee to put them in over likely conference winning Clemson.
If they’re playing Penn State for the B1G, that also means that Ohio State beat Michigan, which leaves them in the mix. The committee would then be forced to potentially leave out one of Ohio State, Washington or Clemson.
Verdict – Don’t count them out
5. Washington Huskies – Obviously Washington has a big test on the road against Washington State for the Apple Cup. However, Colorado did just make quick waste of Wazzu a week ago and Washington is perceived to be much better overall. The issues comes with the recent loss to USC. On one hand, the Huskies will have played four ranked teams, only one in the top 10, all season. On the other hand, the only slip up was a primetime match-up against a USC team that has been surging after a brutal start to the season.
The biggest issue is that the Pac-12 has shown so much parity that the entire conference looks to be a huge disappointment. This is a Power 5 conference that really doesn’t have a lot to offer, which makes them a solid candidate to get smacked around by B1G and SEC playoff match-ups. This team is a lot of fun to watch, but they would have to mop the floor with both Wazzu and the Pac-12 South champion for me to put them in over B1G Wisconsin or possibly even two-loss Oklahoma. If Wisconsin doesn’t win the B1G, I’d like Washington’s chances to make the playoff over Penn State, with Ohio State sneaking in over the B1G champs.
Verdict – Sorry about your luck
4. Clemson Tigers – The good news for the Tigers is that they play in the ACC. Unfortunately, that also could be a bad thing. Luckily, they opened up the season with a close road victory at Auburn, who turned the season around big time. However a close loss and 42 points given up to Pittsburgh make me more skeptical than I already was. This team just doesn’t seem to have the same moxy it did a season ago, yet, like Florida State in 2014, they continue to scoot by close games. At this point, the only thing keeping Clemson out of the playoff, however, would be lackluster play and close victories against South Carolina and the ACC Coastal champ.
Verdict – Near lock
3. Michigan Wolverines – This is simple. Win and in. A loss to Ohio State sends Jim Harbaugh back to the drawing board for a 2017 playoff run. They would be a two-loss program without a championship and could only get close if PSU loses to MSU and Wisconsin loses at all. Even in that case, they’d still have to hope that one of Washington and Clemson were to go down. A win against Ohio State and then against Wisconsin (likely opponent) ensures the #2 seed and possibly #1 if Alabama stumbles.
Verdict – Win and in
2. Ohio State Buckeyes – Sadly, one close loss could very well keep Ohio State out of the playoff for a second year in a row. Even a win over Michigan doesn’t guarantee them a spot in the playoff. A convincing win over Michigan will make it very hard to keep them out, but a close win could be just enough to say no, without a B1G championship. Now if Penn State doesn’t make it past Michigan State this weekend, a win will work regardless of how pretty. That would ensure them a bid to the B1G Championship likely to face Wisconsin, which a win there would propel them to the CFP Championship picture.
Let’s say PSU gets it done against Sparty and Ohio State wins by a touchdown in Columbus against the Wolverines. The CFP committee would then have to decide if a one-loss conference championship-less team would be acceptable to put in the playoff. Ohio State obviously passes the eye test, to which most would agree that they’re the most qualified to stop Alabama, but this would unhinge the precedent previously set when the committee left out TCU in 2014, who had a solid SOS and won-out, only to fall three spots and out of the rankings when all was said and done.
The good news for Ohio State fans is that the committee should realize how embarrassing last year’s games were and from a ratings perspective, OSU blows the doors off. The obvious choice is to make room for a 11-1 Ohio State team. That being said, Ohio State just came down to the wire against Sparty in East Lansing in which an intercepted two-point conversion was the difference between a #2 ranking this week and outside the top 10.
Verdict – Win (convincingly) and in
1. Alabama Crimson Tide – Alabama just has to win and their in. Honestly, they could lose a close game to Auburn, win the SEC championship and re-enter the playoff picture over another one-loss team. It’s also not unrealistic for Alabama to beat Auburn but lose to Florida in the SEC Championship and make the playoff. The only thing keeping the Crimson Tide from the College Football Playoff is two losses back-to-back.
Verdict – Lock
Final CFB Rankings Prediction
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#1 Alabama vs #4 Wisconsin
Playstation Fiesta Bowl
#2 Clemson vs #3 Ohio State
On Outside Looking in: Missing the Cut
10. Penn State
Think the College Football Playoff goes down a little differently? Tell us all about it in the comments below!