The day after the College Football Playoff rankings comes out is always a fun one. There is always arguing about which team should be ranked where, what criteria should be considered and who has the best chance to make the playoff. Most of the time is spent trying to qualify teams and justify their resume.
What we are going to do instead is look at the top ten teams and discuss why they should not make the playoff and why they fall short.
Colorado will not make the playoff because they are playing their second ranked game of the season this weekend at Washington State. Win that and maybe you can work on getting into the Pac-12 championship game. Close wins over Oregon and UCLA are not impressive, even though hanging with Michigan for a little was. What Colorado has done up to this point has been impressive, but making the playoff is probably too much to ask of the Buffs.
Oklahoma will not get in because the Big-12 is bad, because they lost to Houston, and because they have one win over a ranked team. They have two chances in the last weeks of the season to boost their resume, but with two losses and no conference championship game, the best they can do is have as many ranked wins as Wisconsin or still lack the marquee win of Penn State. It does not look good for Oklahoma or the Big-12.
8. Penn State
Penn State will not make the playoff because they have some weak losses. They got smacked by Michigan in their fourth game of the season, and they also have a loss to Pitt. They do have one of the most impressive wins in the country, but it was against one of only two ranked teams on their schedule. Barely beating Temple, Minnesota and struggling to pull away from Indiana will also hamper Penn State’s resume. Their best chance for another marquee win will likely be in the Big Ten Championship game against (they hope) Wisconsin. Will this be enough to get them in? Probably not.
Wisconsin will not make the playoff because their good wins only look okay now and they are being propped up by close losses. Also, a two loss team has not made the playoff yet. The top-10 win over Michigan State means very little now, and Nebraska and LSU and barely hanging on in the rankings. Wisconsin will likely make it to the Big Ten Championship game, but if they barely beat Penn State in that game, Ohio State still may make it over them. Also, they struggled big time against Georgia State. That was far from impressive.
Washington will not make the playoff because they have the weakest out-of-conference schedule in the country, because they failed their first real test of the season last week against USC, and because their conference is the second-worst of the Power-5 conferences. Wins over Utah and Stanford look good, but Washington still has a lot of work to do with some big games ahead. The trip to Washington State in the final week of the season will not be easy, and a rematch in the conference championship game with USC or Utah could pose some problems. If Washington loses a second game, start booking their tickets to the Rose Bowl, not the playoff.
Louisville will not make the playoff because one blowout win against the third best team in your conference does not make you one of the best four teams in the country. Neither does having the best player in the country (though it helps). The win over Florida State is a big win for the program, but there is not much else Louisville can point to that shows they are better than the teams ahead of them. They lost heads up to Clemson, and they struggled against Duke, Virginia and three-quarters of Wake Forest. Yes, Louisville is fun to watch and yes they put up a ton of points, but their schedule is weak and they are in close games against teams that are not very good.
Clemson will not make the playoff because they do not win convincingly and because they did not beat a 6-4 team at home. Yes, there were some calls that went against Clemson, but that does not excuse the three interceptions your Heisman candidate threw, including a costly one in the end zone. Beating Louisville was impressive, but struggling against Troy and barely escaping NC State is not. Better shape up Clemson or you Dabo will be throwing a Pizza party to celebrate your win in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Michigan will not make the playoffs because their best wins are only starting to look good and because they left the state of Michigan twice this season and lost the game that was not against Rutgers. Michigan looked bad against Iowa, which is a new look for them after destroying a weak schedule up to that point. Colorado is an impressive win now, but Colorado’s quarterback got hurt in that game and it was much more competitive before that happened. The Penn State win also looks really good now, but they are playing much different than they were in the first conference game. Michigan does control their own destiny, but they have to learn how to play away from home and do it before a trip to the Horseshoe on November 26.
2. Ohio State
When the College Football Playoff was being created, the Big Ten argued that the most deserving teams are often conference champions, while the SEC argued that the best teams may not get to play for their conference championship. Well, the Big Ten’s argument is one of the main reason Ohio State may not get into the playoff. Even if Ohio State wins its final two games and even if they are convincing, they do not control their path to the Big Ten Championship game. In the end, Ohio State may not make because of a blocked field goal against Penn State. Tough luck.
For Alabama, it is nearly impossible to make a case for why they do not belong in the playoff. They have been the best team in the country throughout the season and show no signs of letting up. There may be a case for why they do not deserve to be the number one seed, especially if they lose a game down the stretch. They get a second bye week when they play Chattanooga this week, and that should take some points off for weak scheduling at the end of the season. Alabama has beaten six ranked teams this season, but two of those teams are not ranked anymore, and two others (Tennessee and Texas A&M) are wildly overrated. The beat down of USC early in the season looks more impressive as the weeks go by, but that was a different USC team with a different quarterback. If Alabama struggles against Auburn or the SEC East Champion, and a team like Michigan or Clemson surges, they may be looking at relinquishing the number one seed. Not likely to happen, though.