Breaking Down the CFP Rankings – Week 12
Let’s just get right to the good stuff…
CFP Top 25, Week 12:
1. Alabama (10-0) 2. Clemson (9-1) 3. Miami (FL) (9-0) 4. Oklahoma (9-1) 5. Wisconsin (10-0) 6. Auburn (8-2) 7. Georgia (9-1) 8. Notre Dame (8-2) 9. Ohio State (8-2) 10. Penn State (8-2) 11. USC (9-2) 12. TCU (8-2) 13. Oklahoma State (8-2) 14. Washington State (9-2) 15. UCF (9-0) 16. Miss State (7-3) 17. Michigan State (7-3) 18. Washington (8-2) 19. NC State (7-3) 20. LSU (7-3) 21. Memphis (8-1) 22. Stanford (7-3) 23. Northwestern (7-3) 24. Michigan (8-2) 25. Boise State (8-2)
We’ve reached a situation that I didn’t really expect to be in… There are multiple two loss teams that have to be in the conversation. Auburn and Ohio State are two teams that could find themselves with a backdoor shot into a playoff spot. Other two loss teams (i.e. USC, Penn State) either don’t have enough strong wins or don’t have enough big games left to get into the conversation.
Before we discuss our contenders though, let’s talk about who saw their chances fade to black this week.
Fighting Irish fans have to be disappointed after their schedule finally caught up to them. They travelled down to South Beach, but left their game back in South Bend. The Canes did what every Power 5 player, coach and fan was hoping for. Now nobody has to watch NBC and I can go back to thinking Brian Kelly is too smug to succeed.
Next we have the TCU Horned Frogs. Their highly touted defense couldn’t slow down the Sooners and their offense didn’t live up to the Big 12 standard. I know they only have two losses. I know they could still be a Power 5 champion. But when you look at the landscape of college football, I just don’t see them getting to the top 4.
Finally, taking a huge plummet from #9 to #18 are the Washington Huskies. Stanford was, by far, the best team they had seen this season. There were a lot of questions about the Huskies going into this one, and they were answered on Friday night. They just aren’t the team from last year. Another two loss team that doesn’t really have a realistic shot to vault back into the top 4, even with wins against WSU and USC in the conference championship (if they manage to get in).
So we lose three contenders, but add two in Auburn and OSU. Let’s get into it…
#9 Ohio State (8-2)
Week 11: OSU 48, Michigan State 3
How they looked: Yikes. The Buckeyes channeled every ounce of their frustration from last weeks loss to Iowa and took it out on the Spartans. They made a statement to the rest of the Big Ten East that they’re still the team to beat and they’re ready for a playoff push.
Updated Prediction: 11-2 – A true model of inconsistency, OSU has shown weakness in their losses this year, but they still have the weapons to beat anyone on any given day. They’ll breeze through Illinois, and I don’t expect Michigan or Wisconsin to exploit their weaknesses enough to put them away. They’ll win the Big Ten Championship and have a very nervous time awaiting the final CFP Rankings.
#7 Georgia (9-1)
Week 11: Georgia 17, Auburn 40
How they looked: I wasn’t surprised to see the Bulldogs lose this one. I was, however, surprised to see them lose by 23. Between scoring the game’s first and last touchdown, Georgia was outscored 40-3 by the Tigers. Momentum is a powerful thing, and the Bulldogs failed to control it the entire game. They let the game get away from them and the final whistle couldn’t come fast enough.
Updated prediction: 11-2 – I have to eat my words here. I thought Georgia was better than this. Regardless of whether they see Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship, I no longer see them getting through.
#6 Auburn (8-2)
Week 10: Auburn 40, Georgia 17
How they looked: This feels a bit redundant, but the Tigers absolutely handled the #1 team in the country. They rose to the occasion and showed everyone (including me) that two losses isn’t a death sentence anymore.
Updated prediction: 11-2 – SEC Champions? I’m giving the Tigers the edge in the Iron Bowl, purely due to the home field advantage. They won’t have such an easy time in a rematch with Georgia in Atlanta, but they showed that they’re a superior team and I’m looking at Auburn to be the first two loss team in the Playoff.
#5 Wisconsin (10-0)
Week 10: Wisconsin 38, Iowa 14
How they looked: The Badgers finally played a ranked team, and they made sure they took advantage of it. They welcomed the Hawkeyes into Camp Randall and made a statement, outgaining Iowa 382-66. If it weren’t for their turnovers, this game would’ve been even uglier. However, a lot of turnovers isn’t exactly what you want when you’re gearing up to play the hardest games of your season.
Updated Prediction: 11-2 – This game against Michigan will be the toughest regular season test the Badgers face, and I don’t think they’ll come out with the W. The Wolverines have been improving all season, and their defense will keep them in it. With a pending trip to Indianapolis to (most likely) face the Buckeyes, Wisconsin is poised for a major disappointment over the next three weeks.
#4 Oklahoma (9-1)
Week 10: Oklahoma 38, TCU 20
How they looked: Oklahoma finally found their defense. They held up in their last real test of the year and their offense did what it does, putting up plenty of points for the win.
Updated prediction: 12-1 – The Sooners shouldn’t have trouble against Kansas or West Virginia. They’ll have to face a familiar foe in either TCU or OK State in their conference championship, which could pose a threat, but I still expect them to represent the Big 12 in the playoff.
Side note: the Sooners have to be furious with their ranking behind Clemson, but that’s a topic for another post…
#3 Miami (FL) (9-0)
Week 10: Miami 41, Notre Dame 8
How they looked: Miami completely proved me wrong. Their defense is fast enough to play with anyone, and their offense was dynamic enough to give the best opposition fits. They had the Irish praying for an answer all game, and the Turnover Chain magic continues.
Updated Prediction: 13-0 – I did not expect to be predicting Miami as the only undefeated team in the Playoff, but life comes at you fast, and so does the Hurricane’s defense. The Canes showed that they’re the most complete team in the ACC and after Clemson’s struggles last weekend I expect them to get through the rest of their schedule.
#2 Clemson (9-1)
Week 10: Clemson 31, Florida State 14
How they looked: This game was a lot closer than it looked. If Clemson is the second best team in the country, there is no reason they should be in a 3 point game with FSU in the fourth quarter. After losing to a below average Syracuse and struggling with the ‘Noles, Dabo has to be worried looking ahead.
Updated prediction: 11-2 – Last week, I said it would be smooth sailing for the Tigers until the ACC Championship. I was wrong. Clemson has struggled to win the games they’re expected to win this year, and they haven’t faced anyone as talented as Miami yet. Unless they find and fix a lot of their holes in the next couple weeks, they won’t come out of Charlotte with a conference championship.
#1 Alabama (10-0)
Week 10: Alabama 31, Miss St 24
How they looked: We’re finally seeing some weaknesses from the Tide. They were almost doubled up in time of possession, and if the Bulldogs were as worried about winning as they are about decorating their cow bells, we might be having a different conversation, but here we are. Alabama uses a final minute TD and a very dicey Hail Mary defense to come out of Starkville with their undefeated record intact.
Updated prediction: 11-1 – After the Tide’s scare and Auburn’s spirited performance against Georgia, I don’t expect Alabama to come out of the Iron Bowl undefeated. With a loss to the Tigers, the committee is going to be in a tough spot. Alabama will sit be the only team in the country hoping to get into the Playoff without a conference title to back them up.
What to watch this weekend:
#24 Michigan at #5 Wisconsin, Saturday at Noon on FOX
Conference Championship Outlook
ACC: Miami vs Clemson
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs TBD (OSU, MSU, PSU or Michigan)
Big 12: TBD
Pac 12: USC vs TBD (Washington, WSU, or Stanford)
SEC: Georgia vs TBD (Alabama or Auburn)
Sorry, this weekend is going to be dull for the contenders… Most of them will be looking for a resume boost against cupcake opponents. I suppose this would be a great time to share my disdain for the SEC’s longstanding tradition of playing borderline high school teams this late in the season.