College Football Playoff: Projecting the Big Four, in advance of the Oct. 30 rankings

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ATLANTA–For the next seven Tuesdays (including this morning), 11Alive Sports shall walk the plank of potential embarrassment … by projecting the College Football Playoff rankings for each week.

Technically, the inaugural CFP rankings won’t become public until Tuesday, Oct. 30, but given our location in the Deep South, we wanted to get the hype train rolling in advance–since the national-title picture tends to undergo monumental changes every weekend, or perhaps every other Saturday.

Case in point: On Saturday, four Top 10 teams were humbled by opponents deemed as underdogs, in the eyes of Las Vegas betting experts:

No. 2 UGA (lost to LSU)

No. 6 West Virginia (lost to Iowa State)

No. 7 Washington (lost to Oregon)

No. 8 Penn State (lost to Michigan State)

It’s worth noting: Our projections will solely focus on the imminent CFP rankings. In other words, we won’t be making a case for the final foursome … until the run-up to Conference Championship Weekend (Dec. 1).

If you’re seeking looking-ahead projections, click here.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTIONS

1. ALABAMA (7-0)

REASONS TO SUPPORT THIS RANKING

**Alabama leads the country in scoring offense and total offense.

**If the voting ended today … QB Tua Tagovaiola would be the runaway Heisman Trophy winner.

**Alabama boasts top-15 rankings with scoring defense and total defense.

**The Crimson Tide have been atop the AP and coaches polls every week.

**Alabama’s average victory margin stands at 38.4 points.

**Legacy matter, Part I: Alabama has made every College Football Playoff since its inception.

**Legacy matter, Part II: Nick Saban has claimed five of the last nine national titles.

REASONS TO DISMISS THIS RANKING

**Nothing to report here.

2. OHIO STATE (7-0)

REASONS TO SUPPORT THIS RANKING

**The Buckeyes boast two wins over top-15 teams–TCU and Penn State.

**Ohio State holds comfortable No. 2 rankings with the AP and coaches polls.

**Six of OSU’s victories occurred against Power 5 programs.

**Ohio State’s average victory margin stands at 27.1 points.

**Only four teams from the AP Top 8 remain undefeated (‘Bama, OSU, Clemson, Notre Dame).

REASONS TO DISMISS THIS RANKING

**Urban Meyer’s September suspension has nothing to do with the on-field product.

3. LSU (6-1)

REASONS TO SUPPORT

**The Tigers are the only team with three victories vs. the AP Top 10 (Miami, Auburn, UGA).

**Strength of Schedule: LSU holds an elite-level ranking of 5th nationally (source: SBNation).

**The SEC has seven teams ranked in the AP Top 25–easily the highest count of any league.

**Of the one-loss teams in the AP Top 15, only the defeats for UGA (@ LSU) and Michigan (@ Notre Dame) carry greater weight than LSU’s setback at Florida.

**There’s no finality to the first CFP-rankings release … so why not hype up the specter of No. 1 Alabama versus No. 3 LSU in Baton Rouge (Nov. 3)?

REASONS TO DISMISS

**A number of college fans, especially those living in South Carolina and Indiana, might not appreciate one-loss LSU holding a higher CFP seed than Clemson and Notre Dame, respectively. Oh well.

4. NOTRE DAME (7-0)

REASONS TO SUPPORT

**The Irish have three impressive wins on their resume–vs. Michigan, vs. Stanford and at Virginia Tech.

**Notre Dame has a respectable schedule full of 10 Power 5 programs, plus one service academy (Navy).

**The CFP committee members will likely appreciate the Irish’s acumen for being strong during close games.

**Notre Dame has a solid finishing kick with Northwestern (road), Florida State, Syracuse, USC (road).

**The Irish are well-balanced on offense, boasting seven tailbacks/pass-catchers with big-play availability.

**Given the immense drawing power of Notre Dame, as a national brand, an undefeated Irish squad would be a lead-pipe cinch for the Playoff.

REASONS TO DISMISS

**It’s hard to imagine Alabama, Ohio State or Clemson barely surviving Vandy, Ball State and Pitt by a razor-thin margin of six points.

As such, there are plenty of skeptics throughout the country, waiting to pounce on Notre Dame’s first epic fail.

BEST OF THE REST

5. CLEMSON (6-0)

SKINNY: Don’t worry about the outside-looking-in ranking. Win out … and the Tigers will be fine.

6. GEORGIA (6-1)

SKINNY: If the Dawgs go perfect from this point forward, they’ll comfortably make the Playoff.

7. MICHIGAN (6-1)

SKINNY: Michigan’s a home juggernaut … but Saturday’s clash with MSU will be in East Lansing.

8. FLORIDA (6-1)

SKINNY: We’ll know everything about the Gators’ Playoff prospects … in 12 days (vs. UGA).

9. UCF (6-0)

SKINNY: Good luck keeping UCF out of the Playoff this time, if the Knights run the table in the much-improved Conference USA.

10. OREGON (5-1)

SKINNY: The Ducks have been shaky at times; but then again, this description would also fit Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky, Iowa and still-undefeated North Carolina State.

© 2018 WXIA



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