My Top 25 and the Top 25 of the committee
1) Georgia (11-0) CFP commission has Georgia on 1)
Georgia gets the benefit of the doubt as it is an undefeated defending champion. Their best win is that of a team I have ranked 8th in the nation. The Bulldogs could beat the 9th best team in the country and cement their spot at 1).
2) Michigan (11-0) CFP Committee has Michigan at 3)
The reason Michigan is ahead of my Buckeyes is that I feel like they have less question marks about who they are. Even with their top two rushes hurting, including a Heisman frontrunner in Blake Corum, they know who they are and what they’re going to do. They’re old-fashioned Big Ten. Walk walk walk. run, and run some more and try to beat you. It worked for them last season and has worked for them so far this year.
3) Ohio State CFP (11-0) commission has Ohio State at 2)
Ohio State has improved a lot from last year, but they still have some weaknesses that have been there all season and have not been corrected. They still struggle to run between tackles, attack the center of the field, and move north and south offensively. They also have a lot of injuries. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been out all year and their two running backs Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson have been beaten up all year.
The glimmer of hope for the Buckeyes is that when they went with two backs that are 100%, they succeeded. Dallan Hayden and Xavier Johnson have given them more options, but Ohio State is still struggling to figure out who to go with and that gives Michigan an edge over them as of now.
4) TCU (11-0) CFP committee also has TCU on 4)
For all their faults, TCU does what matters most; they are winning. As long as they keep winning, they’ll be in the top four. Beat Iowa State, and probably beat Kansas State again and they’re in. The critics can shut up and chew on the chicken egg that the Horned Frogs have in the loss column.
5) USC (10-1) CFP Committee has USC at 6)
USC and Clemson should both be above LSU. It’s simple math, USC is 10-1, Clemson is 10-1 and LSU is 9-2. USC should be there if they win. They should be the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game. If they beat Notre Dame (who plays very well) and then (most likely) beat Oregon, they should be in.
6) Clemson (10-1) CFP committee has Clemson on 8)
Clemson is there with USC. I value the team that leads in the Pac-12 and the team that leads in the ACC more than the team that is essentially third in the SEC as LSU is (Georgia and Tennessee running ahead of them).
7) Penn State (9-2) CFP Committee has Penn State at 11)
Penn State to me is the best team with two losses. They don’t get credit for losing to the top two teams on their schedule. But those two teams are in the top three. Of their nine wins, eight were in double digits.
8) Tennessee (9-2) CFP Committee has Tennessee at 10)
I know Tennessee just took one on the chin, but they still have to be ranked above LSU because they hit LSU on the back when they played head-to-head and they have the same record. That win has to count for something and to me it counts the Vols over the Tigers.
9) LSU (9-2) CFP Committee has LSU at 5)
LSU is getting more out of their win over Alabama than the Vols and that’s saying something. LSU struggles to beat Arkansas, which at the time did not have their star quarterback KJ Jefferson, also a factor in their presence here. Don’t get me wrong, LSU still has a clear path to the playoffs even at #9. I think they need some help and some mayhem in the other Power 5 conferences, but given how this season has turned out, that amount of help doesn’t seem too far out of reach.
10) Washington (9-2) CFP Committee has Washington at 13)
Part of Washington being so high is that they beat the Oregon Ducks head-to-head and the Ducks beat UCLA and Utah. Washington needs Oregon State to help them in the Pac-12 Championship Game against USC to play for the Rose Bowl.
11) Alabama (9-2) CFP Committee has Alabama at 7)
Playing Austin Peay in late November caught up with the tide this year, and so did rival Auburn’s struggles. The Tide has also had a lot of close games this season. Five of them were decided by a touchdown or less and have uncharacteristically only gone 3-2 in those games. Still, a New Year’s Six Bowl is very possible, and likely, for Nick Saban and Alabama.
12) Oregon (9-2) CFP Committee has Oregon on 9)
Oregon may not be in the playoffs, but beating an 8-3 Oregon State and then an 11-1 USC would certainly help their cause, but two losses seem too much for a Pac-12 team to overcome. Still, a Rose Bowl in Dan Lanning’s freshman year would be a good feat for the Ducks program.
13) Coastal Carolina (9-1) CFP Committee has awarded Coastal Carolina Unranked
I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do with Chanticleers. They only get 12 games this year because a game was rightly canceled due to a tragedy in Virginia that goes beyond football. If they win their Finals and win the Sun Belt and the AAC Champion is a 3-loss UCF, I would believe Coastal Carolina should be the Group of 5 representative in the New Year’s Six.
14) North Carolina (9-2) CFP Committee has North Carolina at 17)
While their narrow loss to Notre Dame didn’t look too bad in hindsight, the Tar Heels fell flat against Georgia Tech and hurt their resumes. They could still win their division and the ACC, but their hopes for a playoff appearance and a Heisman (at least this year) for phenom Drake Maye were summed up by the Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech.
15) Cincinnati (9-2) CFP Committee has Cincinnati at 24)
The Bearcats are right where they want to be, on the brink of a third consecutive New Year’s Six game. If they beat Tulane and win a rematch with UCF, they will be accepted as representatives of the Group of 5 and will aim to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 next year. Luke Fickell is a fantastic coach and has UC fans who are fans of Ohio State and Ryan Day because that’s the only job Coach Fickell would ever consider leaving Cincinnati for.
16) UTSA (9-2) CFP committee did not rank UTSA.
The Roadrunners are having a fantastic season with star quarterback Frank Harris. Since their early close losses to Houston and Texas, they have won eight in a row. I have to let them rank for their body of work and nine wins this season. Nine wins in Conference USA must mean more than seven wins in a Power 5 Conference.
17) Notre Dame (8-3) CFP Committee has Notre Dame at 15)
The Irish are the top three-loss team in America and have scored at least 35 points in their five-game winning streak, including against Clemson. If the Irish can upset USC at the LA Coliseum, they could very well be scheduled for a New Year’s Six game at 9-3.
18) Troy (9-2) CFP Committee has Troy Unranked
The Sun Belt should get more love as they upset Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Notre Dame this season. Troy has a fantastic defense and will likely face Coastal Carolina in the conference title game and have a shot at 11 or 12 wins.
19) South Alabama (9-2) CFP Commission has South Alabama Unranked
South Alabama almost beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl this year, the same UCLA that brought USC to the wire in the same building. Getting nine and possibly 10 wins in a regular season is worth the top 25 regardless of conference or schedule.
20) Tulane (9-2) CFP Committee has Tulane at 19)
Tulane still has everything ahead of her. Beat Cincinnati and get another crack at UCF for the conference title and probably a New Year’s Six berth. Their upset of Kansas State is still helping them and will continue to do so as long as the Wildcats keep winning.
21) Kansas State (8-3) CFP Committee has Kansas State at 12)
Kansas State’s head-to-head loss to Tulane keeps them behind the Green Wave in the standings, even though the Wildcats are one win away from playing for the Big 12 title and an automatic New Year’s Six berth.
22) Florida State (8-3) CFP Commission has Florida State at 16)
The ‘Noles are playing well heading into the rivalry weekend. Mike Norvell finally got the team where they want to be. Their early season win over LSU is a boost for them and a thorn in the side of the Tigers as each game is analyzed late in the season.
23) UCLA (8-3) CFP Committee has UCLA on 18)
The Bruins have had one of their best seasons in a long time thanks to Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Zach Charbonnet and Chip Kelly. While 8-3 isn’t where they want to be, they were competitive in every major game, even winning a few by beating Washington and Utah.
24) Utah (8-3) CFP commission has Utah at 14)
The Utes’ dreams of back-to-back Rose Bowls may be gone, but they have nothing to be ashamed of and can still rack up double-digit victories. Some are calling for them to play their rival BYU in a bowl game and if things get so out of hand I think both sides would love to have another classic.
25) Ole Miss (8-3) CFP Committee has Ole Miss at 20)
Ole Miss is a consistent and growing threat in the SEC West under Lane Kiffin. The Egg Bowl against Mississippi State on Thanksgiving Night looks set to be another classic between two great and colorful coaches in Kiffin and Bulldogs coach Mike Leach.
Teams I’ve ranked that the CFP committee doesn’t:
13) Carolina Coast (9-1)
16) UTSA (9-2)
18) Troy (9-2)
19) South Alabama (9-2)
Teams that the CFP committee has ranked that I don’t have:
21) State of Oregon (8-3)
22) UCF (8-3)
23) Texas (7-4)
I have a hard time putting an 8-3 team ahead of a team that is 9-2. I think teams should be given credit for doing better with the schedule they have than another team that is doing worse with the schedule they have. That’s why I have four teams in the top 25 that the CFP committee doesn’t have. The bowl games will justify my rankings or crow an accumulating board.
Head-to-head matchups are also important, especially when teams have identical records. Hence, Tennessee stands for LSU, Washington stands for Oregon, Troy stands for South Alabama, Tulane stands for Kansas State, and UCLA stands for Utah.