What a weekend…again! 4 committee Top 10 teams are defeated. Does anyone want to win this thing? The Pac-12 has eliminated itself from the conversation after both Stanford and Utah lose. Now every team in the conference has at least 2 losses. That would leave the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and SEC champs at the table for the Playoff. Unless more mayhem occurs and Notre Dame (who is quasi ACC) gets a seat. Oklahoma and Alabama have taken their spots as “best 1 loss team in America after the way they’ve played down the stretch. Two undefeated Big 10 teams seem to be on a collision course. We are down to the final two games on the regular season schedule, plus a conference championship game (Sorry Big 12 you don’t participate with the rest of the real world anymore in that aspect). With all that being said, winning all your games is still worth more than anything at this point. Winning keeps you alive and the only way to get a seat at the table is to be left alive after a 12-13 game schedule. I put a premium on winning especially if it is a Power 5 conference you are running the table in. I do not base anything off of preseason rankings, I look at a few metrics: offensive efficiency (OE); defensive efficiency (DE); and strength of victory (SV). Strength of Victory is taken directly from the Jeff Sagarin rankings page. Lets rank ’em.
1 Clemson 10-0 (last week: 1)
9th OE; 2nd DE; 3rd SV; +204 Point Differential. Clemson can taste it now. A home game against Wake Forest and a road instate rivalry game at South Carolina finish the regular season. Then the ACC Championship game versus North Carolina more than likely is what Clemson must get through.
2 Ohio State 10-0 (last week: 4)
35th OE; 7th DE; 4th SV; +226 Point Differential. Ohio State is in familiar territory. They must conquer the State of Michigan (Michigan State and Michigan) to get to the Big Drum in Indianapolis. A game against Iowa will determine the Big 10 seat at the College Football Playoff.
3 Oklahoma State 10-0 (last week: 2)
18th OE; 17th DE; 7th SV; +191 Point Differential. Oklahoma State has a chance to be the sleeper team that no one expected make it to the College Football Playoff. Surviving a scare at Iowa State (which has been a horror story in the past for the Cowboys) was big. Now they host Baylor coming off a loss and then…Bedlam.
4 Iowa 10-0 (last week: 3)
23rd OE; 24th DE; 16th SV; +152 Point Differential. Iowa can be just like Oklahoma State and be a team no one expected to make it to the Playoff. This is the map: Home-Purdue & Road-Nebraska. If Ohio State holds up their end of the bargain it’ll be an undefeated Quarterfinal for a National Championship.
5 Oklahoma 9-1 (last week: 6)
8th OE; 6th DE; 2nd SV; +264 Point Differential. Oklahoma kept on rolling, taking down previously unbeaten Baylor. Now they have a home date with TCU and Bedlam to finish the season.
6 Alabama 9-1 (last week: 7)
29th OE; 1st DE; 1st SV; +176 Point Differential. Alabama went to Starkville and dominated Mississippi State yesterday. Just another one sided victory for the Tide. The Tide now have powerhouse Charleston Southern and the Iron Bowl remaining before a date with Florida.
7 Notre Dame 9-1 (last week: 11)
4th OE; 42nd DE; 6th SV; +147 Point Differential. Here come the Irish. With only a 2 point loss at Clemson against them, Notre Dame only has Boston College and Stanford left on the schedule. Will that hurt them? If not having a championship game has no effect on the Big 12 then I see no way it hurts the Irish.
8 Florida 9-1 (last week: 10)
41st OE; 5th DE; 10th SV; +136 Point Differential. Florida showed last week’s almost debacle against Vanderbilt was a fluke. Taking care of lowly South Carolina. Non conference games against Florida Atlantic and Florida State will take the Gators into Atlanta riding high to take on the Tide. The more things change the more they stay the same.
9 Baylor 8-1 (last week: 5)
1st OE; 51st DE; 5th SV; +249 Point Differential. Baylor still has a lot to play for. If teams in front of them lose, they are in prime position to make the Playoff. They still have a very good chance to get to the Sugar Bowl if the Playoff dream doesn’t come to fruition. Making the Fiesta, Cotton, and Sugar bowls in succession would not be something to fuss about.
10 Houston 10-0 (last week: 12)
33rd OE; 28th DE; 27th SV; +233 Point Differential. Houston made it interesting, but squeaked by Memphis with a backup QB. Now they have to travel to Connecticut and then they hose Navy. If they win those two games and defeat Temple in the AAC Championship Game then the Cougars will make a New Year’s 6 bowl.
11 North Carolina 9-1 (last week: 15)
5th OE; 44th DE; 14th SV; +232 Point Differential. North Carolina football must have seen that the basketball team was preseason #1 and decided they wanted to compete for front page on the Chapel Hill News & Observer. The Tar Heels have shot up these rankings with blowouts over Duke and Miami and now have road games at Virginia Tech and NC State before the ACC Championship Game.
12 TCU 9-1 (last week: 17)
14th OE; 58th DE; 8th SV; +181 Point Differential. Boykin and Doctson’s health are the keys to an upset over Oklahoma this week. If they are able to play then TCU has a punchers chance. It won’t be close if those two are not able to go.
13 Michigan State 9-1 (last week: tie-18)
25th OE; 31st DE; 21st SV; +106 Point Differential. Michigan State has to be at full strength for the Buckeyes. Connor Cook being able to play at the QB position is there only chance at pulling an upset.
14 Navy 8-1 (last week: NR)
13th OE; 57th OE; 28th SV; +172 Point Differential. I will admit fault with Navy, I overlooked them last week. A few weeks back I had Navy in the Top 25 and took them out because they lost to Notre Dame. Navy is a good football team and will give Houston all it wants in that matchup. Reynolds (QB) deserves some Heisman consideration.
15 Stanford 8-2 (last week: 9)
11th OE; 43rd DE; 9th SV; +150 Point Differential. Stanford is the best 2 loss team in the country. However that will probably only be good enough to meet the Big 10 Championship Game loser in the Rose Bowl.
16 Utah 8-2 (last week: 13)
51st OE; 8th DE; 19th SV; +103 Point Differential. Utah let a golden opportunity slip through last night as they were defeated by Arizona. Seeing 3 teams ahead of them lose all but opened up the Playoff for the Utes. Losing closed that door and now they need help just to get to the Pac 12 Championship Game.
17 Michigan 8-2 (last week: tie-18)
34th OE; 12th DE; 12th SV; +178 Point Differential. Michigan still has a say in the Big 10, beating Ohio State would make this first Harbaugh season a success. Getting to a New Year’s 6 bowl would be the icing on the cake.
18 Florida State 8-2 (last week: 16)
21st OE; 25th DE; 15th SV; +135 Point Differential. The Seminoles dropping is not an indictment on them, they have been solid, its just how it goes sometimes when you’re having to go to a backup QB. Everett Golson has reverted into the turnover machine that got him benched at Notre Dame a year ago and I hope Jimbo sits him the rest of the season.
19 USC 7-3 (last week: 20)
15th OE; 18th DE; 11th SV; +137 Point Differential. USC is rolling now and in control of their own destiny after the early season stumbles. If they win out they will have avenged a loss against Stanford and will make the Rose Bowl.
20 Ole Miss 7-3 (last week: 21)
12th OE; 37th DE; 13th SV; +177 Point Differential. Ole Miss had a week off and they needed it. Now they have a game against LSU where both teams are coming off a home loss against Arkansas. Didn’t think I’d be saying that a month ago. Ole Miss can still make a good bowl but the last two games against LSU and then the Egg Bowl are critical.
21 LSU 8-2 (last week: 8)
17th OE; 27th DE; 17th SV; +83 Point Differential. LSU is coming off back to back double digit losses to Alabama and Arkansas. The first one is easier to explain than the last one. They had better get ready, Ole Miss is no slouch and they come calling next.
22 Georgia 7-3 (last week: NR)
49th OE; 10th DE; 23rd SV; +103 Point Differential. Georgia won the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry in convincing fashion. Now that they have nothing to play for they are dangerous (which seems to be the case year in and year out). Another solid season for Richt but when will the fanbase get tired of not competing for the National Championship?
23 Wisconsin 8-2 (last week: 24)
45th OE; 20th DE; 20th SV; +164 Point Differential. Wisconsin has slowly been very solid all year. Now they are two wins away from having another 10+ win season and getting to a very good bowl game.
24 Washington State 7-3 (last week: NR)
26th OE; 46th DE; 40th SV; +54 Point Differential. Washington State has found a way to get to 7-3. They are only a few plays away from beating Stanford and being 8-2. Well done Mike Leach.
25 Arkansas 6-4 (last week: NR)
6th OE; 82nd DE; 24th SV; +65 Point Differential. Arkansas has came from the depths of obscurity to having home games against Mississippi State and Missouri to close the season and have an opportunity to finish 8-4. That would be good enough to have sole possession of 2nd in the SEC West and get to a very good bowl game.
All efficiency rankings taken from ESPN and Strength of Victory rankings taken from Jeff Sagarin’s page.
In closing, I am taking a moment to have a take on the College Football Playoff Committee. Having Alabama and Notre Dame ahead of any of the unbeaten teams is a joke. I understand the argument that they have played a difficult schedule and all that. I have even held a weak schedule against Baylor for the nonconference schedule that they played. Now that we are miles in to the conference schedules then teams that are still undefeated at this point are the teams that will be playing for the National Championship given the fact that they keep winning. I challenge the Playoff Committee to come up with a Top 25 as I have that puts the most importance on one metric: winning.