It looked like the entire top 12 was going to look identical to last week – until the committee gave us a twist to sink our teeth into. Before we break it down, a look at the newest College Football Playoff rankings:
It was a slow week by college football’s standards, but we’ll be talking about Miami and Clemson switching places all week. The Hurricanes rose to No. 2 after surviving a scare against Virginia. The Tigers slipped to No. 3 after blowing out The Citadel.
What does that tell us? Well, Miami and Clemson must have been nearly dead-locked last week. A win over Virginia wouldn’t seem particularly significant as it pertains to the College Football Playoff, but it’s a win against a competent ACC team nonetheless. Clemson, meanwhile, didn’t add that extra data point to its resume. If the teams were that close, the logic makes sense.
The next question: does it really matter? It could, depending on how everything shakes out. Miami and Clemson are set to meet in the ACC championship game. Let’s say Miami loses in a close one. If some of the other contenders fall in the coming weeks – like Wisconsin, or Oklahoma, and Alabama wins out with victories over Auburn and Georgia – the Hurricanes could still go to the College Football Playoff. It might not be afforded the same luxury if it goes into the ACC title game as the No. 3 team. Of course, this is an unlikely scenario. But stranger things have happened, and while this switch may prove to be trivial, there’s a chance it matters.
There’s not much other shuffling to break down – at least, not shuffling that will affect the four teams we’ll see in the CFP. So instead, let’s briefly look ahead to some key games this weekend that are bound to, or could shake up the rankings:
No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Auburn: Of course, if Alabama wins out, it’s in. The same can be said of Auburn. The question: where does Alabama land if it loses? Auburn has already beat a No. 1 team at home – Georgia – and the Crimson Tide’s resume leaves some to be desired. Its best win is at No. 14 Mississippi State. You were watching the Iron Bowl regardless, but it means more this year.
No. 9 Ohio State at Michigan: Ohio State’s still not out of it. If the Buckeyes beat Michigan and take down No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, they can reach the festivities with some good fortune.
No. 3 Clemson at South Carolina: The Gamecocks quietly have eight wins this year. In Columbia, this won’t be easy for Dabo Swinney’s squad.
No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 21 Stanford: Notre Dame has less of a chance to make the College Football Playoff than teams like Ohio State, Penn State and USC, since it won’t play in a conference championship game. But the Fighting Irish could see a temporary bump with a win, which could also help Miami if the Hurricanes need that bullet point to look even better.
The crazy weeks wouldn’t be as fun without a few calm ones. In seven days, this poll could look a whole lot different.