Well, I should have seen that coming.
Texas A&M, sitting at 7-1, was slotted above 8-0 Washington in the College Football Playoff’s first rankings of the season, which came out this evening. Here’s the full Top 25 (click here to see who I projected in the New Years’ Six and semifinals):
|Rank||Conference||Week 9 result||Next opponent|
|1||Alabama, 8-0||SEC||Bye||at LSU|
|2||Clemson, 8-0||ACC||37-34 W at FSU||vs. Syracuse|
|3||Michigan, 8-0||Big Ten||32-23 W at Michigan State||vs. Maryland|
|4||Texas A&M, 7-1||SEC||52-10 vs. NMSU||at Mississippi State|
|5||Washington, 8-0||Pac-12||31-24 W at Utah||at Cal|
|6||Ohio State, 7-1||Big Ten||24-20 W vs. Northwestern||vs. Nebraska|
|7||Louisville, 7-1||ACC||32-25 W at Virginia||at Boston College|
|8||Wisconsin, 6-2||Big Ten||23-17 W vs. Nebraska||at Northwestern|
|9||Auburn, 6-2||SEC||40-29 W at Ole Miss||vs. Vanderbilt|
|10||Nebraska, 7-1||Big Ten||23-17 L at Wisconsin||at Ohio State|
|11||Florida, 6-1||SEC||24-10 W vs. Georgia||at Arkansas|
|12||Penn State, 6-2||Big Ten||62-24 W at Purdue||vs. Iowa|
|13||LSU, 5-2||SEC||Bye||vs. Alabama|
|14||Oklahoma, 6-2||Big 12||56-3 W vs. Kansas||at Iowa State|
|15||Colorado, 6-2||Pac-12||Bye||vs. UCLA|
|16||Utah, 7-2||Pac-12||31-24 L vs. Washington||Bye|
|17||Baylor, 6-1||Big 12||35-34 L at Texas||vs. TCU|
|18||Oklahoma State, 6-2||Big 12||37-20 W vs. WVU||at Kansas State|
|19||Virginia Tech, 6-2||ACC||39-36 W at Pitt||at Duke|
|20||West Virginia, 6-1||Big 12||37-20 L at Oklahoma State||vs. Kansas|
|21||North Carolina, 6-2||ACC||Bye||vs. Georgia Tech|
|22||Florida State, 5-3||ACC||37-34 L vs. Clemson||at NC State|
|23||Western Michigan, 8-0||MAC||Bye||at Ball State|
|24||Boise State, 7-1||Mountain West||30-28 L at Wyoming||vs. San Jose State|
|25||Washington State, 6-2||Pac-12||35-31 W at Oregon State||vs. Arizona|
Here are my thoughts:
Texas A&M over Washington in 4th was absolutely the right call.
Simply put, the Aggies play a much tougher schedule than the Huskies (7th in the country as opposed to Washington’s 38th-ranked ledger). A&M’s one loss shouldn’t have inflicted much damage at all since it came against Alabama. A resume that includes wins against UCLA and Tennessee (despite looking weaker as time goes on) stands up better than Washington’s.
CFB's Kirby Hocutt: "Committee believes Texas A&M has played stronger sked than Washington." 4 Ws over .500 teams vs. 2 Ws.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 1, 2016
Ohio State running the table should get them in the semifinals.
The Buckeyes’ remaining schedule consists of #10 Nebraska, at Maryland, at Michigan State, and home against #2 Michigan for The Game. If things hold the way they do, and a one-loss Ohio State team ends up toppling a undefeated Wolverines team in the final week of the regular season en route to a conference title, I’m led to believe that the committee would favor the Buckeyes, even with a single loss, over Washington, and maybe even over Texas A&M (whose remaining schedule consists of two sub.-500 teams, a .500 team, and #13 LSU). As it looks right now, things favor the Buckeyes to sneak in, while I’d be a little afraid if I were an A&M or Huskies fan. Again, that’s if things hold, which is asking a lot.
Like last year, the Gamecocks have a few chances to play spoiler down the stretch.
Of course, Clemson is #2, but Florida is #11, and has a chance to make a move of their own with #13 LSU and #23 Florida State making up their final two games. The Gators’ best hope right now is holding off Auburn and getting into the Sugar Bowl as the SEC’s top non-CFP team, but even if they end up beating Arkansas in Fayetteville, a loss to the man that once led their program for four seasons would be the ultimate stroke of irony and would knock them to a holiday bowl. That says nothing of Clemson, who face Syracuse, Pitt and Wake Forest before the big game after Thanksgiving. Considering how close last year’s edition turned out (even against the worst Gamecocks team in sixteen years) and the near losses Clemson’s endured, I wouldn’t call this year’s contest a sure bet for the Tigers.