The second College Football Playoff Committee rankings have been published and after a wild weekend that saw the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide tighten their grip on the top spot with a comprehensive victory against the then #3 LSU Tigers and big wins for Michigan and Georgia; the end of season rankings picture is starting to take shape.
Movers and Shakers
The aforementioned Michigan Wolverines benefit from LSU’s loss to Alabama and an impressive victory over Big 10 rivals Penn State to climb into the playoff spots. If Michigan wins their remaining games, they are a lock for the playoff. The matchup with Ohio State on November 24th is their biggest hurdle to overcome.
Georgia who scored a big win over SEC East rivals Kentucky jump up one spot to #5, the Bulldogs show they are the class of the East as they secured their spot in the SEC Championship game. The showdown against unbeaten Alabama is mouthwatering.
West Virginia move up four spots to 9 after their one point win over Texas; led by quarterback Will Grier they have tough tests against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the next couple of weeks before a potential rematch against the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship game.
LSU slip from #3 to #7 after being shut out by Alabama. Losing at home to a team that may well be considered the best college team in a decade is not an embarrassment in and of itself. However LSU fans will be bitterly disappointed in how big the class gap was between them and their SEC West rivals. If they win out, they’re a near lock for a New Years Six spot given their performances against a tough schedule.
Texas falls from #17 to #19 after losing to WVU, leaving its Big 12 hopes hanging by a thread. The Longhorns aren’t quite back, but they are well on the way to building a Big 12 contender. The heartbreaking loss at West Virginia this weekend means they will now need a lot of help to make the Big 12 Championship game.
Texas A&M fall out of the top 25 after consecutive losses against Mississippi State and Auburn. The War Eagles downed the Aggies last weekend as the Jekyll and Hyde season continues for A&M. They did well to be ranked at all this season, given the upheaval this program has seen recently. Back to back games against SEC opposition is tough, but these games show just how far they have to go.
New Year’s Six Predictions
Cotton Bowl (CFP Semi Final): Alabama vs Michigan
Orange Bowl (CFP Semi Final): Clemson vs Notre Dame
Rose Bowl*: Ohio State vs Washington State
Sugar Bowl**: LSU vs Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl: UCF vs Georgia
Peach Bowl: Kentucky vs West Virginia
*the Rose Bowl is always contested by a Big 10 team and a PAC-12 team unless it is a CFP Semi Final.
**the Sugar Bowl is always contested by an SEC team and a Big 12 team unless it is a CFP Semi Final.
Whilst history and the unpredictable nature of college football tell a story of change in the top four over the last few weeks of the season, it is tough to bet against any of these four teams not winning all their remaining games. They are the class of the division.
Despite not making the Big 10 Championship game, Ohio State still finish as the second best team and get the Big 10’s Rose Bowl slot with Michigan in the playoff. They are joined by my predicted PAC-12 champions Washington State in a matchup of passing games that I would love to see.
UCF earn a second consecutive New Years Six bid as the best of the Group of Five schools, a marquee win over Georgia would be a massive achievement for the program. The Bulldogs give Fromm another chance in an important bowl game after last seasons disappointment in the Championship game.
Finally, the Peach Bowl sees SEC East surprise package Kentucky take on West Virginia. The committee love to see Big quarterback prospects in the New Years Six and WVU check that box with Will Grier, they also have the record to match. An appearance here would be just rewards for a Kentucky squad having a fine season.
Contribution by Alex Chinery
Photo credit – CFB Playoff Committee.