This year, the second annual College Football Playoff takes place. Last year, there were many skeptics of the selection committee and the way they handled the selection of the top four teams. While the process of selecting these teams has been proven effective, it’s still flawed. Here’s what we think about this weeks rankings.
As the last team out, #6 Baylor. The Big 12 conference is full of teams who run up the score, but is also a conference who gives up the same amount of points. Baylor has the FBS top ranked offense; averaging 665 yards per week, while giving up 388 yards per week. These numbers don’t equal a championship contender. That being said, the possibility of the Bears being in the final four, is highly unlikely. The last four teams remaining on their schedule, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas. Texas looks like an easy win, but they did beat The Sooners; and the Sooners are considered as one of the top teams in the Big 12. Oklahoma this weekend poses the biggest current threat to Baylor’s playoff hopes. Oklahoma State looks to be one of the highest scoring games this season, which could decide which Big 12 team ends up in the final four. TCU poses a threat, but the loss to OK State seems to have really shook them. Our guess? Baylor suffers a late game loss and sinks further down in the rankings.
The first team out, #5 Iowa. This Iowa team this year, is shaping up to be the Cinderella team of College football this year. In the AP preseason Top 25 poll, Iowa wasn’t ranked. They weren’t even receiving votes. Many people wonder, how in the world did the Hawkeyes get to number #5? This team wins football games. They don’t win very pretty, or always very convincing; but they have yet to lose this season. In regards to total offense, the Hawkeyes average 412 yards per game; while they give up just over 300 yards per game. That’s more impressive than Baylor. Their remaining schedule, Minnesota, Purdue, and Nebraska. These 3 games look to be tune up games, if you will. Iowa should make it to the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State, in which the winner is almost guaranteed a spot in the final four.
The last team in, #4 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish came into the season ranked #11. A generous ranking, as they lost their dynamic playmaking quarterback Evertt Golston to Florida State, along with 7 starters from last year. This weeks ranking doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. They’ve had some early season tests, with their only loss coming from #1 Clemson. They’ve survived a tough Temple team who almost came away with an upset. The Irish average 489 yards of total offense, and give up 365 yards per game. A fairly balanced team with one loss, a meaningful one. Remaining on their schedule, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Stanford. Notre Dame should go into the Stanford game 10-1, and that game looks to be the deciding factor of their final four fate.
At #3, the defending national champions Ohio State. The Buckeyes started the year with some very unconvincing wins, but nonetheless wins. This weeks ranking, which is the same as last weeks; is justified. Ohio State has yet to be tested with a great defense; averaging 455 yards of total offense per game, and giving up 303 yards per game. The Buckeyes are in position to continue their race to another national championship. They have Illinois, Michigan State, and Michigan remaining on their schedule. Illinois should be a tune up game, with recently suspended quarterback JT Barrett possibly returning to the starting role. The final two games are the biggest threats to their title hopes. The Buckeyes win out, including the Big Ten championship, they’ll be right back in the final four again.
At #2, Alabama. This is the ranking that causes the most confusing. We all know the recent history of the Crimson Tide, winning national championships in 2009,2011-2012. Last year, the Tide fell short to Ohio State in the first round of the College Playoffs. With their only loss coming from a now unranked Ole Miss team, it’s very surprising to see Alabama ranked over numerous undefeated teams. Their win against LSU, and the dominant rushing attack from Derrick Henry (38 rushes, 210 Yards, 3 TD), and the impressive stoping of heisman front runner Leonard Fournette(19 rushes, 31 yards, 1 TD) they’ve shown spots of the Alabama team who won back to back titles. The Crimson Tide average 432 yards of total offense per game, while giving up 265 yards per game. With Mississippi State, Charleston State, and Auburn left on their schedule, and one loss looming; it’s not far fetched that Alabama finds their way back into the final four.
Finally, at #1 for the second week in a row, Clemson. The Tigers came into the season ranked #12 in a conference that has been dominated by Florida State for the past two years. This Clemson team has proven that they are, in fact, the real deal. They’ve survived only one early season test against Notre Dame, but have won every other game very convincingly. The win against Florida State and Notre Dame stand out as the key factors in selecting the Tigers as #1. Clemson is averaging 488 yards of total offense per game, and giving up 288 yard per game. Clemson has Syracuse, Wake Forest, and South Carolina remaining on their schedule. These three games look to be easy wins for the Tigers; and they should find themselves competing for a national championship this year.
The biggest flaws found in this weeks rankings are obvious. Two 1 loss teams ranked in the top four. This can’t be the norm for the selection committee. Yes, Alabama dominated the best running back in the country. And Notre Dame’s only loss came from the #1 team, but those factors shouldn’t be the only things the committee looks at. Offense isn’t all that matters in a championship team. Pay attention to the key losses, and pay attention to the undefeated teams on the outside looking in. It’s shaping up to be a great finish to the end of the regular season.
Credits: usatoday.com (for statistics and photos), cbssports.com (for statistics), YouTube.com (for photos), Bleacherreport.com (for photos ), Tailgaterivals.com (for photos), Rantsports.com (for photos), secsports.com (for photos)
-Chris Wright and Tre Thomas