For the third consecutive week, the top eight teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings all won. (Actually, this week saw the top 10 all victorious.) Some victories feel better than others, though.
Florida State lost quarterback Jordan Travis for the season with a leg injury early in a throwaway game against North Alabama. You can expect little change this week in the top half of the rankings; however, I am predicting — for the third straight week — that Washington will finally jump Florida State as the fourth team in the field.
Of course, this is a warmup act for the warmup act, which are all of the CFP Rankings releases before the final one. Remember, these rankings do not act like a traditional 25 poll where, as long as a team keeps winning, it is unlikely to get passed. Each set of CFP Rankings gets tossed after it is announced with teams reevaluated from scratch every week.
Before we get to the predicted rankings themselves, here’s a refresher listing some of key points the committee members consider when deciding a team’s ranking beyond their on-field record:
- Strength of schedule
- Conference championships (once decided)
- Results vs. common opponents
- Results vs. ranked opponents
Thankfully, the committee’s definition of “ranked opponents” is different than what you’re used to seeing. The rankings they use are the prior week’s CFP Rankings. They do not consider where teams are ranked in the CFP, AP Top 25, etc. when the games are played. Using game-time rankings is the most worthless way to determine “ranked opponents;” in fact, the committee specifically forbids the use of any poll that has a preseason starting point.
Notice that “game control” is not listed among the criteria. It never has been considered despite the term (or similar concepts) coming out of the mouth of past committee chairmen. (The CFP does not have a way to measure “game control” — I’ve seen the data the committee uses — but let’s not kid ourselves: They do talk about it.) And really, who cares how you get to the win as long as you get there?
With all that in mind, here is how I believe the CFP Rankings will look tonight. Remember: This is not necessarily how I would vote if I were on the committee. I am merely predicting what they will do this evening.
Note: This projection is based only on results to this point. It does not reflect the final forecast for the playoff. The complete bowl playoff and bowl projections through the end of the season can be found here.