The College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee gave their initial rankings last night, and the top four spots went to Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama, respectively.
As reported by USA Today, a major part of naming Clemson No. 1 in the CFP rankings was their strength of schedule. Jeff Long, chair of the selection committee, used the phrase “better than.500 record” multiple times when explaining their choice of putting the Clemson Tigers in first place. They beat No. 5 ranked Notre Dame, as well as three other teams with a better than 0.500 record. Clemson plays No. 16 ranked Florida State this Saturday. As Sports Illustrated noted, of the six college football teams in the AP Poll’s top six, Clemson has the best strength of schedule (eighteenth in the nation). Once they get past Florida State, however, they won’t play another team that is currently even within one game of a.500 record.
LSU, currently ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll, leads the FBS in total yards rushing at 1,352. Over the last six games, quarterback Brandon Harris has averaged two touchdown passes and hasn’t thrown an interception. This week, they play CFP-ranked No. 4 Alabama in what should the most important game of the week related to the coveted Top 4 spots for the College Football Playoff rankings.
Both of No. 3 ranked Ohio State’s last two opponents — Penn State and Rutgers — had records of at least.500 when they faced off against the Buckeyes. Ohio State outscored those two times by seventy points, a combined score of 87-17. The strength of schedule for Ohio State is 72nd in the FBS. The 2014 college football champs have two more Top 25 teams to face this season in Michigan State (No. 6 and yet undefeated) and Michigan (No. 16). This week, they play the 4-4 Minnesota Golden Gophers.
When the Buckeyes host Minnesota, they will have to do so without their starting QB. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has been suspended for one game after being cited for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Alabama is the only team that made the top four that isn’t undefeated. There are eight college football teams with undefeated records that were ranked below Alabama in the College Football Playoff rankings. Once again, strength of schedule came into play. The Crimson Tide’s only loss came to No. 18 ranked Ole Miss. There are fourteen teams in the Top 25 that don’t have perfect records. Alabama is one of the eight teams with one-loss records. They have already beaten No. 19 Texas A&M, and both Wisconsin and Georgia were ranked when they lost to Alabama earlier this year.
But things could change dramatically by the time next week’s College Football Playoff rankings are released as the No. 4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide hosts the No. 2 ranked LSU Tigers. As ESPN noted, the yearly Alabama vs. LSU game has seen both the Tide and the Tigers as Top 10 teams seven out of the last ten years, this year included. If LSU wants to remain undefeated after facing Alabama, they’re going to have to end the four-year win streak that Alabama currently has in the series.
The full College Football Playoff Rankings Top 25 is listen below, courtesy of ESPN:
- Louisiana State
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Michigan State
- Texas Christian
- Oklahoma State
- Florida State
- Ole Miss
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
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