Top 25 College Football Playoff Rankings: Takeaways From Second Release

The second College Football Playoff rankings of the 2016 season have been released. Let’s break down the composition of the selection committee’s work.

The second College Football Playoff rankings of the 2016 season were released on Tuesday night. And for the second straight week, Alabama was selected as the top team in the country by the 12-person selection committee.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide continue to look like the team to beat following their 10-0 win over LSU last week in Baton Rouge, but a showdown with Auburn looms to close the regular season. At this point, it does not appear that the winner of the SEC West is going to get a great challenge from the East division champion.

Meanwhile, Clemson and Michigan remained at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, behind top-ranked Alabama.

But after Texas A&M’s loss to Mississippi State, the Aggies dropped down to No. 8 (more on that later), allowing Washington to snag the No. 4 spot. So, if the season ended today, Alabama-Washington would be the Peach Bowl matchup, while Clemson-Michigan would occur in the Fiesta Bowl.

Here are some thoughts on the second set of rankings that were released by committee chair Kirby Hocutt and Co. earlier on Tuesday evening.

Does U-Dub have a strangle hold on a CFP spot?

Last week during the rankings release show, Hocutt said that the committee believed that Texas A&M had played a tougher schedule than Washington up to that point, so that’s why the Aggies were above the Huskies. A&M’s second loss makes that point moot now. Looking ahead to the Huskies’ schedule, they still have games left against a rising USC team, Washington State and the Pac-12 South champ in a possible league title game. So if Washington is 13-0 with a Pac-12 title, the Huskies are going to be in as a Power Five champion. Conference titles carry weight and are valued by the committee, but said titles can’t exist until the final rankings are ready to be released. That’s another reason why Washington was not ranked No. 4 last week.

If Chris Petersen’s squad loses, though, the Huskies would have to worry that the committee would punish their non-conference schedule. If a team such as Michigan has a close lose to Ohio State in the regular season finale or in the Big Ten title game, would the Wolverines get bypassed by a 12-1 Washington even if the Huskies’ loss comes before winning a potential league title game? Michigan’s schedule is looking stronger and stronger as the weeks go on (Colorado, Penn State, Wisconsin and a couple of decent Group of Five schools). Bottom line: the Huskies need to remain unbeaten to feel confident, because there are dangerous teams lurking.

Still B1G

Jim Delany’s league placed five teams in the Top 12 of the first CFP rankings: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Penn State. While the Cornhuskers suffered a blowout loss to Ohio State and ultimately tumbled, the Big Ten still has four teams in the Top 10, including a rising tenth-ranked Nittany Lions squad. The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game seems primed to play for the league title, with the winner of that conference championship game advancing to the CFP. But what if either the Wolverines or Buckeyes falter to, say, a two-loss Badgers squad in the league title game? The Badgers, with a win over LSU, would have then received revenge from one of their two losses. It could get very interesting in the Midwest if such a situation occurs.

One last note on the Big Ten: After seeing the team play many times this season, I believe Washington is one of the four best squads in the country. But Ohio State’s schedule (with a lone loss to No. 10 Penn State on the road) had to at least put the Buckeyes in the discussion for that No. 4 spot, didn’t it?

How did LSU drop so far?

While these particular rankings ultimately do not determine how the postseason will look, I can’t understand how LSU, which was ranked No. 13 last week, dropped 11 spots after losing a hard-fought physical battle with top-ranked Alabama. Meanwhile, Texas A&M dropped just four spots after losing at Mississippi State. Further, how is Nebraska ranked ahead of LSU? Sure, the Cornhuskers have two losses compared to the Tigers’ three setbacks, but at no time has LSU looked as bad as the Cornhuskers did last week in their blowout loss to Ohio State. This committee has a very difficult job, there is no doubting that fact. But there are little lacks of consistency that raise eyebrows. It’s hard to believe that LSU took such a tumble. As for A&M, which lost to a team with a losing record, it just so happens to have a head-to-head win over Auburn. Without Trevor Knight, this will be a different Aggies team moving forward, but the committee is essentially rewarding that H2H victory, that’s why they are ahead of Auburn. While the committee has several tough situations to handle each week, the Tigers dropping so far after competing with the best team in the country does not seem right.

Buffalo love

Colorado checks in this week at No. 12, and keep in mind that three of the eight CFP participants over the last two years were outside of the Top 10 at this point in the process: Ohio State in 2014, and Oklahoma and Michigan State last year. The Buffaloes still have games with Washington State and Utah as well as a potential Pac-12 title game. Stranger things have happened, but Mike MacIntyre and Co. have to feel good about a No. 12 ranking with tough games still ahead.

Other notes

* Florida and Baylor dropped out from last week, while USC and Arkansas are in.
* The SEC East does not have any representation in this week’s rankings.
* Alabama is 4-0 vs. currrent members of the CFP Top 25.
* It certainly does not look good for the Big 12, as the league failed to place a team in the Top 10. However, Oklahoma is at No. 11 and remains alive. Of course, it needs a lot of chaos, and this season just doesn’t seem to have that chaotic feel.
* The committee is rewarding head-to-head victories. Texas A&M is ahead of Auburn, UNC is ahead of FSU, Boise State is ahead of Washington State, and Oklahoma State is ahead of West Virginia.

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