We’re getting close to the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season. Below, I predict how the first College Football Playoff rankings might look by projecting the Top 25.
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, the College Football Playoff selection committee will reveal the Top 25 through Week 10 regular season games. They will continue to do so every week before the final Top 25 on Sunday, Dec. 8. You can read an overview of the committee’s process here on the official site.
College Football Playoff rankings predictions: Top 25 projections
NOTE: This projected Top 25 will be updated throughout the weekend. This is how I think the committee will rank the teams this upcoming Tuesday.
- Ohio State (8-0): The Buckeyes have an impressive collection of wins against AP ranked Cincinnati and Wisconsin and against a 6-2 Indiana squad. They look like a No. 1 team.
- LSU (8-0): LSU is the other top option to start No. 1, thanks to wins against Auburn, LSU and Texas (though the Longhorns have dropped to 5-3). But a win against Alabama might push the Tigers there anyway.
- Alabama (8-0): The Tide are No. 1 in the Coaches and No. 2 in the AP, but ‘Bama might only be No. 3 in the initial CFP rankings because it lacks the top-end wins owned by Ohio State and LSU.
- Penn State (8-0): Here’s thinking wins against Top 25 teams Iowa and Michigan are enough to place the Nittany Lions ahead of Clemson.
- Clemson (8-0): The Tigers are the defending national champions, but the only borderline Top 25 win they have now is Texas A&M. That could hurt them in the Top 25.
- Florida (7-1): The Gators will likely be the top one-loss team, should they get by rival Georgia this week.
- Oklahoma (7-1): The Sooners have rebounded from a regular-season loss by winning out to reach the CFP in two consecutive seasons. That might be a little tougher this time, if only because OU might not be the top one-loss contender come Dec. 8. But that’s a long way off.
- Auburn (6-2): The Tigers will likely be the clear top two-loss team on Nov. 5 — as long as Auburn beats Ole Miss on Saturday. No two-loss teams has made the CFP, but the Tigers would love to present a strong closing case with wins against Georgia and Alabama.
- Oregon (7-1): Will the committee rank one-loss Oregon behind two-loss Auburn because of the head-to-head result?
- Georgia (7-1): If Georgia gets rolling, the Dawgs will be a team no one wants to face. UGA has slumped lately, but a win against Florida would get Georgia back on track.
- Baylor (8-0): The Bears have a tough remaining schedule, so they’ll earn their ranking should they continue to win. After West Virginia, Baylor faces TCU, Oklahoma, Texas and rapidly improving Kansas — and then perhaps would play in the Big 12 title game.
- Utah (7-1): The Utes have recovered nicely from injury losses and the defeat at USC. Since then, Utah is 4-0 and has won every game by at least 18 points.
- Wisconsin (6-2): The Badgers were the last team to trail this season but have since gone on to lose to Illinois and Ohio State. Still, the Big Ten West division title could be theirs if they win out and Minnesota picks up a second loss somewhere else.
- Michigan (6-2): The Wolverines were getting run out of Happy Valley before closing strong to lose by only 7. Then they routed Notre Dame at night. Maybe this Michigan team could still challenge Ohio State on Nov. 30.
- Iowa (6-2): Since a two-game slide, the Hawkeyes have beaten Purdue and Northwestern. With Wisconsin and Minnesota next on the schedule, Iowa will have huge opportunities.
- Notre Dame (5-2): The Irish probably need to win out and be 10-2 to have hopes for a New Year’s Six spot. A USC win against Oregon would also help, as that’s the Irish’s best win right now.
- SMU (8-0): The Mustangs are seen as the top Group of Five candidate for a New Year’s Six game, but that would change with a loss at Memphis. UCF, then undefeated, was No. 12 in the first CFP rankings last season.
- Minnesota (8-0): This might be the biggest question mark. The Gophers could end up inside the top 15, as they’re undefeated. But they could also be around here because of a lack of big wins. Beat Penn State and then Minnesota will rocket up the Top 25.
- Cincinnati (6-1): That one loss is to Ohio State, so there’s no shame in losing, even by 42 points. The Bearcats will have the defense to challenge everyone, plus the schedule is very manageable before playing at Memphis on Nov. 29.
- Kansas State (5-2): The Wildcats might be higher here than in the AP or Coaches Polls, as the committee might value K-State’s huge win against OU.
- Memphis (7-1): The Tigers are in the mix in a rugged American chase, and even if they beat undefeated SMU, Cincinnati awaits on Nov. 29. Plus there’s a possible AAC title game.
- Boise State (6-1): With the AAC depth and Appalachian State still rolling, the Broncos might need to win out to make a New Year’s Six game.
- Wake Forest (6-1): The second-highest ranked ACC team will go to the Orange Bowl if Clemson makes the CFP. The Deacons might be that team, even at something like 9-3.
- Washington (5-3): This could be a short stay or the start of a late-season rally, as the Huskies get a visit from Utah this week.
- Appalachian State (7-0): Texas A&M, Navy and UCF could find a home here, but here’s thinking the committee gives the edge to the undefeated Mountaineers.
College Football Playoff rankings predictions: Semifinals
Here’s how I think the final CFP rankings will look.
- No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 LSU (Peach Bowl)
- No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson (Fiesta Bowl)
The Alabama-LSU rematch might want to be avoided if possible, but if LSU loses a close one to the Tide on the road, the 11-1 Tigers would have a strong case — maybe even the best out of all the 1-loss teams. Beating Auburn, Texas and Florida would do that.
As for the other semifinal, if Ohio State and Clemson both go undefeated, the Buckeyes would have a better collection of wins: Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan and then the Big Ten West champion in the Big Ten Championship Game.
College Football Playoff rankings predictions: New Year’s Six games
This is what I think the games will be at season’s end. This isn’t based off what the rankings will be on Tuesday.
- Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Georgia
- Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. Utah
- Orange Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Florida
- Cotton Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Baylor
- Peach Bowl (semifinal): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 LSU
- Fiesta Bowl (semifinal): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
- National Championship Game: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Ohio State
UNDEFEATED TEAMS: Tracking the remaining unbeaten teams this season