The College Football Playoff selection committee released its first rankings of 2016 on Tuesday (Nov. 1), sparking debates among analysts and fans across the country. But it is important to remember that this is only the first of many rankings to come, and things will surely change by the time the last rankings are released on Dec. 4.
That being said, there were some interesting takeaways from the initial rankings and we highlight them below.
Texas A&M shakes up the top of the rankings, gives SEC two teams in playoff position
The top three spots in the rankings went to Alabama, Clemson and Michigan – all of which are undefeated and worthy of their positions. However, the biggest surprise came at No. 4, where a one-loss Texas A&M team (ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll) leapfrogged an undefeated Washington team.
The committee believes that the Aggies have navigated the tougher schedule to this point, with their only loss coming at the hands of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. But Washington is still in a good position, as the Huskies have a stronger schedule the rest of the season (according to ESPN’s Football Power Index) and are the heavy favorites to win the Pac-12. Essentially, Washington controls its own destiny and Texas A&M needs help to hold its spot.
Louisville appears to be a long shot to crash the playoff party
Louisville exploded onto the scene during the first two months of the season due to the electrifying play of Heisman candidate Lamar Jackson. But with every passing week, the Cardinals seem less likely to claim one of the final four spots.
Louisville’s No. 7 ranking has them within striking distance of playoff positioning, which looks great on the surface. But the Cardinals are more likely to be passed by the teams surrounding them than to move up in the rankings, primarily due to the struggles of Florida State and Houston. Louisville’s destruction of FSU in September doesn’t look as impressive now that the Seminoles have three losses, and the late-season clash with Houston has lost its luster since the Cougars have dropped two games against inferior opponents (Navy and SMU).
The Big 12 will almost certainly be left out of the top four this year
One of the remnants of the BCS era is the conference pride that permeates throughout college football. Fans constantly claim that their conference is the strongest with the hope that it will benefit their respective teams in the eyes of the committee, especially since there are five major conferences vying for only four spots.
This year, the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 all have worthy candidates to appear in the playoffs, which likely leaves the Big 12 out of the picture for the second time since the playoff format started in 2014. The highest ranked Big 12 team is Oklahoma at No. 14., followed by Baylor (No. 17), Oklahoma State (No. 18) and West Virginia (No. 20). The negative perception of the conference as a whole and the lack of a conference championship game serve as the biggest impediments to the playoff hopes of the aforementioned teams.
Check out the complete rankings below and let us know what stands out to you in the comment section.
College Football Playoff Rankings (Week 1):
1. Alabama (8-0)
2. Clemson (8-0)
3. Michigan (8-0)
4. Texas A&M (7-1)
5. Washington (8-0)
6. Ohio State (7-1)
7. Louisville (7-1)
8. Wisconsin (6-2)
9. Auburn (6-2)
10. Nebraska (7-1)
11. Florida (6-1)
12. Penn State (6-2)
13. LSU (5-2)
14. Oklahoma (6-2)
15. Colorado (6-2)
16. Utah (7-2)
17. Baylor (6-1)
18. Oklahoma State (6-2)
19. Virginia Tech (6-2)
20. West Virginia (6-1)
21. North Carolina (6-2)
22. Florida State (5-3)
23. Western Michigan (8-0)
24. Boise State (7-1)
25. Washington State (6-2)
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