The first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings was released on Tuesday, and, naturally, it caused an uproar from fans—and it always will. It’s a subjective ranking of a multitude of teams based on opinions.
Yes, there are statistical factors that go into deciding which four teams will be competing for the National Championship at the end of the year, such as strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, and strength of conference—but there will always be complaining about a team being left out, similarly to the NCAA tournament.
The biggest difference?
In college basketball, you’re leaving out the 69th and 70th best teams in the country, as opposed to the 5th and 6th best teams for football. It’s a fact that teams and fans will have to roll with for now. So cheer up, soak in the madness, and prepare for one of the best weekends in college football this season. Here’s how this weekend will affect the top ten teams.
South Carolina at #1 Georgia
The Bulldogs got the nod at number one this week—their first time in the top four of the College Football Playoff ranking since 2014—due to a greater strength of schedule than Alabama, but no matter, these teams are still one and two until proven otherwise.
If South Carolina wins: Well, this would certainly shake things up. While Georgia wouldn’t be out of contention for the SEC title game, their road to the College Football Playoff would get exponentially more difficult. And for the Gamecocks, it would be their first win over the number one team since 2010.
If Georgia wins: Bully for them. Georgia is a 23.5-point favorite in this one, they had better get it done at home. Too much talent on both sides of the ball.
#19 LSU at #2 Alabama
The 2012 championship rematch that unofficially led to the creation of the College Football Playoff—when two teams from the same conference made the title game, it was time for a change. Five years later, Alabama reigns supreme, but don’t count out the Tigers just yet.
If LSU wins: If LSU wins this game, we could potentially see the end of Alabama’s playoff hopes—this would give LSU the tiebreaker over Alabama, and could very well keep Alabama out of the SEC Championship game. Now, we could have a similar situation as we did in 2016, when one-loss Ohio State, who didn’t win the Big Ten, made it over a two-loss Big Ten champion Penn State, but it would not be well-received by the public after Ohio State was shut out by Clemson last season.
If Alabama wins: The Tide finally get that signature win they have been looking for and continue to push for the SEC Championship game against what will likely be Georgia, and LSU will likely settle for a mediocre bowl.
Wake Forest at #3 Notre Dame
Will the Irish benefit from a strong schedule but no conference championship? We’ll find out over the next few weeks, but if history tells us anything (looking at you Big 12), it’s that a conference title game hold prominent weight. Luckily for Notre Dame, they have played a very good schedule, with their only loss to the number one team by one point.
If Wake Forest wins: Ohio State and Oklahoma will throw a party in the streets. A loss for Notre Dame means they are out of the running for the playoff, and it opens the door for teams in Power 5 conferences to move up in the rankings.
If Notre Dame wins: The Irish add to their resume another ACC team—but it was never about this game. Over the next month, Notre Dame adds two huge games at Miami and Stanford, and if they win out, they are in the playoff.
#4 Clemson at #20 North Carolina State
The official ACC-Atlantic Championship matchup—Clemson has won 12 of the past 13 in this rivalry, but the Wolfpack are hungry for their first ACC title since 1979.
If Clemson wins: They have a clear path to the ACC Championship—their remaining opponents are a broken FSU, The Citadel, and South Carolina. Who they would play depends on one of our later matchups between VA Tech and Miami.
If NC State wins: NC State has a chance to make some noise in the CFP—Clemson would be out of contention, and again, there would be an Ohio State-Oklahoma party, and the Wolfpack would have a legitimate chance to win the ACC. This would also be a boost for Notre Dame, who beat NC State last week.
#5 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State
Gameday is paying a visit to Bedlam this week, and rightfully so—the stakes have rarely been higher. Oklahoma has dominated this series, but Oklahoma State has taken two of the past six. Here’s to another classic.
If Oklahoma wins: The Big 12 still has hope for the CFP, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they jumped Clemson. Mayfield is still on the Heisman campaign trail, and the Sooners will look to reach their second playoff.
If Oklahoma State wins: The Big 12 continues to beat itself up, but if Oklahoma State can beat OU and Iowa State, the committee has to consider them in the top 6, especially with their lone loss coming to TCU.
#6 Ohio State at Iowa
Perhaps a bit lower than people thought for Ohio State—it tells us what the committee thinks of the Big Ten and their scheduling this year. Iowa is never an easy place to travel to, and JT Barrett will have to continue his Heisman campaign.
If Ohio State wins: The road doesn’t stop here—they control their own destiny in terms of reaching the Big Ten title game, but will need help to climb in the CFP rankings—their best chance this week being an NC State win over Clemson.
If Iowa wins: It would be one step closer to vaulting Penn State back to the top of the Big Ten West, but the Nittany Lions would still need OSU to lose one more time. A Hawkeye win would also help the Badgers, who play Iowa next week.
#7 Penn State at #24 Michigan State
It’s the we-were-so-close-but-blew-it-last-week bowl—both teams had a chance to boost their playoff standings, but came up just short. The winner stays alive in the Big Ten race, the loser will have to try again next season.
If Penn State wins: Penn State winning helps Ohio State look good—so long as the Buckeyes don’t lose themselves. The Nittany Lions need Wisconsin to lose in the regular season, but then beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship to have a shot at the playoff.
If Michigan State wins: Believe it or not, MSU can still reach the Big Ten Championship game, but the task is daunting—after Penn State comes to town, the Spartans travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State. But should Michigan State win both of those games, it’d be time for the committee to launch them up the rankings, especially if Northwestern keeps winning.
Texas at #8 TCU
Not too much at stake for Texas in this one, but TCU’s playoff hopes are razor thin right now.
If Texas wins: From the point above, TCU would be out of the playoff if they lose. There are too many other one-loss teams in the Big 12. This would garner cheers from Wisconsin and Miami, and Texas would be one step closer to being bowl eligible!
If TCU wins: The Horned-Frogs turn their attention to Norman, Oklahoma in Week 11, for a matchup that could ultimately decide the Big 12.
#9 Wisconsin at Indiana
Weak schedule, weak schedule, weak schedule—the words ring clearer and clearer every time you turn on a college football show. But for Wisconsin, it comes down to ignoring outside noise and playing the teams on your schedule.
If Wisconsin wins: All the Badgers can afford to do is keep winning, and even then, from where the committee placed them in the first CFP rankings, they may have to start blowing out teams like Alabama—though not their style, they may not have a choice.
If Indiana wins: Wisconsin is out of playoff contention and all the Bucky doubters will come forward in droves once again.
#13 Virginia Tech at #10 Miami
It’s a good week to be an ACC fan—while Clemson-NC State will decide the Atlantic division, the winner of this matchup will likely take the Coastal crown.
If Virginia Tech wins: The Hokies officially become legitimate CFP contenders. Quarterback Josh Jackson has led Virginia Tech to a very successful season, with their only loss on the road at Clemson, but their sights are set on a bigger prize. If they can beat Miami this week, their road to the ACC title game becomes a lot easier.
If Miami wins: Much like the Tide, the Hurricanes will add a signature win to their weak schedule with a victory over the Hokies. Miami and Wisconsin started lower than expected in the first CFP rankings, and the formula is simple—just keep winning.