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Breaking down the latest College Football Playoff rankings

No change at the top in Week 14, which really makes me want to take a break from talking about this ESPN public-relations bonanza, but we’re so close to the selection committee’s final decisions that ignoring the latest playoff rankings, announced Tuesday night, is impossible.

So here’s what we’re looking at: Alabama still at No. 1, with Oregon, Florida State and Alabama still rounding out the top four. TCU is at No. 5, followed by Ohio State, Baylor and UCLA. FSU is the only unbeaten team in the championship mix. UCLA is the highest-ranked two-loss team.

Let’s see about each team’s road to the playoff.

1. Alabama (10-1). The Tide host Auburn on Saturday and, if they win — or if both they and Mississippi State (at Ole Miss) lose — they’ll get Missouri or Georgia in the SEC title game. As is the case with all of the top eight teams, a loss would be extremely difficult to overcome.

2. Oregon (10-1). Win or lose at Oregon State, the Ducks will play for the Pac-12 title against either UCLA or the No. 11 Arizona-No. 13 Arizona State winner.

3. Florida State (11-0). A couple of difficult-ish games left, at home against Florida and against 16th-ranked Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.

4. Mississippi State (10-1). The Bulldogs have an Egg Bowl they probably should win, given Ole Miss appears to have lost its juice, and then likely will sit at home while West winner Alabama has to play another game. This could be good or bad for MSU — bad, potentially, because it could get passed in the rankings by a champion from another conference. Needless to say, getting into the SEC title game and winning it would be more than good enough to get into the playoff.

5. TCU (9-1). The Horned Frogs play at Texas (6-5, but dangerous) and host Iowa State (ugh). No doubt, this team hears Baylor’s footsteps.

6. Ohio State (10-1). At least The Game against Michigan is an inherently high-profile deal, but let’s be real — the Wolverines are awful. Let’s say the Buckeyes win by 30, then knock current No. 14 Wisconsin around in the Big Ten title game. Would that be good enough to sneak into the top four? It sure could be.

7. Baylor (9-1). The Bears have what should be a walk in the park at Texas Tech followed by a résumé-builder against Kansas State. At 11-1, Baylor — which beat TCU — would almost have to pass the Horned Frogs. But I don’t believe the Bears would be ranked above a 12-1 Buckeyes squad.

8. UCLA (9-2). The playoff thing isn’t all that far-fetched for the Bruins in large part because — at 11-2 — they’d have one of the very toughest schedules in the country to their credit. Closing victories over Stanford (only 6-5, but a name-brand program) and Oregon (Pac-12 title game) would be big-time. At least three teams ahead of the Bruins would have to lose, though. Don’t dare think that’s not possible.

Playoff-wise, the only other teams worth talking about are No. 9 Georgia (9-2) and No. 11 Arizona. The Bulldogs have Georgia Tech in Athens and, probably, Alabama in Atlanta — a pair of decisive Ws might go a long way. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have better losses than Arizona State, so maybe, but it’s a lonnng maybe.


Twitter: @slgreenberg