It’s November, and that means all attention flips from obsessing over the AP Poll to bashing the College Football Playoff Ranking Committee rankings. The first iteration of the CFP rankings has certainly stirred the pot of emotions. Anger, surprise, joy, disgust and delight abound across the twitter-sphere. Here are my instant reactions.
Tennessee on top
Where else could we start?! The Tennessee Volunteers sit pretty atop the college football world after an unbeaten 8-0 start and a statement win at home over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Their resume is strong with some huge scorelines as well as SEC victories over Alabama, LSU and Florida. Hendon Hooker has the world at his feet right now, lighting up Knoxville with his much improved arm talent and decision making as well as his elite rushing ability. With the playoffs, Heisman race and his NFL draft stock all on the line, Hooker is flourishing in the spotlight.
Looming large is this Saturday’s headline game with #3 Georgia. It’s an absolute must watch as Tennessee’s unstoppable offense meets the Bulldog’s immovable defense. Both teams belong in the top 4 and unless one of them humiliates the other, exposing previously unseen flaws, I expect them both to remain in the playoff spots following Saturday’s showdown.
Tigers over Wolverines
Clemson find themselves as the 4th best team in the country according to the committee. I’m not at all convinced by Dabo’s crew, and the head coach himself doesn’t have a clear idea on who his QB1 is. The Tigers have a clean record but were run flipping close by Wake Forest, Florida State and Syracuse. There’s only so many times you can get away with playing down to your opponent and we’re yet to see Clemson separate themselves from any remotely competitive team on the schedule. There’s a loss coming and it might be fatal for the Tiger’s playoff dream.
Michigan will be disappointed to have missed the opening top 4. They are a better team than Clemson and have dominated opposition on both sides of the ball. Blake Corum is humming right now, churning up defenses week after week. The Wolverines have potentially been dinged for an incredibly weak out-of-conference schedule after ducking UCLA. Cancelling that home-and-home series cost Michigan $1.5 million and the respect of many.
Leapfrogging the pack
Hands up if you had TCU undefeated after 4 games, let alone 8! No? Didn’t think so. The Horned Frogs have taken the Big XII by storm and #7 may even be a discredit to them. Sonny Dykes has stepped in and revitalised a floundering offense. Max Duggan is flourishing in the new offensive system and bombing the ball all over the field. Having wrecked havoc throughout the state of Oklahoma, TCU have a tough Texas-based schedule to finish the year. Knock off Texas Tech, Texas and Baylor though, and TCU will force themselves even higher in the CFP rankings.
6-2 = #10?
LSU are somehow ranked in the top 10, and I am not happy about it! The conspiracy theorist within me is screaming ‘SEC bias’ which I’m sure Jake will love! LSU lost in week 1 to an average-at-best Florida State, got blown apart by Tennessee and made an absolute meal of beating a terrible Auburn team. Don’t get me wrong, I really like what this LSU side are showing late in the year, and they dismantled Ole Miss impressively. But top 10?! No way! 2 loss teams don’t belong that high.
Alabama will be pleased to see LSU’s high rank. Beat them convincingly in week 9 and there’s a top 10 win to take to the committee. Bama also have #11 Ole Miss to play and a dubious ‘top 25 win’ over Texas, who don’t merit their #24 spot either.
The Chase Brown Charge
Illinois find themselves at #16 with a 7-1 Big Ten record, and must be kicking themselves over that 20-23 loss to a frankly rubbish Indiana. Running back Chase Brown is leading this team to places they’ve only dreamed of prior to now. The Fighting Illini have their destiny in their own hands as they lead the Big Ten West and have Michigan on their schedule, as well as a potential Big Ten Championship game down the line. They’re an underdog in all senses, but Bret Bielema will be delighted at where his team are positioned ahead of the home stretch.
Talk to me at Thanksgiving
Ultimately, these rankings don’t decide anything right now. There are plenty of twists and turns to come. Illinois could win the Big Ten and get a playoff spot. Tennessee could lose to Georgia and go on a spiral of defeats. The Bulldogs have an easy path to #1 if they beat the Vols and win the SEC. Michigan and Ohio State are still to play The Game. The possibilities and ramifications are endless, but isn’t it fun to get hot and bothered about something else in college football?! Bring on the weekend, and whatever the CFP committee throws at us next week.