After a weekend that that saw No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan, and No. 4 Washington all lose, the gut reaction would be to expect a major shake up when the third College Football Playoff rankings are released on Tuesday. If you take a greater look at the reality of the situation that is just not the case.
Here is where the top candidates stand after an upset filled Saturday:
After a 51 – 3 trouncing against Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide secured the SEC West and are the only Power 5 team that is undefeated. Even with a loss against Auburn or in the SEC title game, expect the see Alabama return to the CFP. Their strength of schedule and resume speaks for itself and there aren’t three teams in place to bump them out.
The Tigers saw their luck in close game run out against Pittsburg. The Panthers hit a last minute field goal to secure the 43-32 upset. All is not lost though, for head coach Dabo Swinney’s team, they still control their own destiny in the ACC. Even if they are left out of the top 4 this week, if they win out expect to see Clemson to get in.
The Wolverines also saw their hopes of an undefeated team end on a field goal by an unranked team. The loss to Iowa though also does not change much for the Wolverines playoff picture. They always had their big match-up looming with Ohio State. The Buckeyes will most likely jump them in the rankings this week, but if Michigan can leave Columbus with a victory, go on to win the Big 10 title, they will be in.
The loss that the Huskies suffered to USC, is the one that effects the CFP picture the most. With their strength of schedule being one of the worst in the Power 5, even if Washington wins out, and secures the PAC 12 title, the committee could bump them in favor of a team that doesn’t win a conference. They are the only team in the Top 5 right now, who may not control their own destiny.
For the time being the Buckeyes should jump into the No. 2 slot. With Michigan’s and Clemson’s losses coming to unranked opponents, and their only loss coming at the hands of No. 10 Penn State, look for the committee to move them up the board. However, the downside to Michigan’s loss is that they no longer control their own destiny. If they beat the Wolverines, they will need the Nittany Lions to slip up in order to advance to the Big 10 title game. But, as long as they win out the committee will most likely put them in the top 4.
The Washington loss helps the Cardinals the most. Based on what the committee has done in the first two rankings, Bobby Petrino’s team should in the least jump ahead of the Huskies. It will be interesting however, to see how the committee ranks them against Michigan. Louisville’s only loss was at Clemson, while the Wolverines loss being at unranked Iowa. Not being able to win the ACC puts their fate in the hands of the committee and it is hard to predict what they will do. But, should they win out in the least in will be in serious discussion for that fourth spot.
If the two loss Badgers win out and are able to knock off the East representative in the Big 10 title game, they have a good chance of sneaking back into the CFP. And that is not out of the realm of possibility. The Badgers took both Ohio State, and Michigan to the brink and their defense will give them a shot in those matchups.
10. Penn State
Texas A&M and Auburn each suffered their third losses of the season, which will allow the Nittany Lions to move up in the rankings. They were helped quite a bit my Michigan’s loss. If Ohio State beats the Wolverines and Penn State wins out they are in the Big 10 championship. If that happens it will guarantee a two loss Big 10 champion with Wisconsin being the East representative. It will be interesting to keep an eye on should the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines. The committee will have to decide to take a two loss champion or a one loss Ohio State or would they take both and leave Louisville and Washington out? Keep an on this situation.
And, that is how the College Football Playoff picture begins to come into focus. In the very least, we will have an interesting debate on our hands when the rankings are released Tuesday, but as Rivalry Week and Championship week comes upon us look for the mess to be cleaned up a bit.