Happy College Football Playoff rankings day. The committee released its first set of rankings for the 2016 College Football Playoff Tuesday and has a top four of Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama.
Here are our five takeaways from the first set of rankings, which you can view in their entirety here.
1. The Big 12 is under-ranked because of its schedule: Don’t put much stock in the Big 12 teams’ low rankings. Baylor is at No. 6. TCU is at No. 8. Oklahoma State is No. 14. Oklahoma is No. 15. The first three teams are undefeated.
Don’t play the disrespect card, however. The Big 12 schedule is backloaded. Oklahoma’s lone loss on the season came against Texas, meaning these four teams haven’t played each other. The round-robin four corners match for the Big 12 title begins this weekend when TCU plays at Oklahoma State. Expect to see the winner of that game make a big leap in the next set of rankings.
2. Alabama’s reputation may be preceding it: Sure, you can excuse away the loss to Ole Miss because of Alabama’s turnovers and a few breaks that went Alabama’s way, but how many people outside of die-hard Alabama fans and SEC-lovers would have the Tide at No. 4?
Alabama’s best win right now is vs. Texas A&M, which is at No. 19. But where would the Aggies be if they didn’t have a strong offensive performance against South Carolina, a game it only won by a touchdown? And remember, the SC game was Kyler Murray’s debut as the starting quarterback. Kyle Allen started and threw three pick-sixes against the Tide. Seeing Alabama in the top four after beating LSU on Saturday is easily explainable. But the Tide ahead of undefeated teams such as Baylor, Michigan State and TCU is a bit baffling, especially given that Alabama lost to a team that Florida beat.
And the Gators are behind the Tide.
3. Clemson needs to keep winning by large margins: If the Big 12 is getting the shaft because its top teams haven’t played each other yet, Clemson has no one left to play after Saturday’s game at Florida State. If the Tigers lose to the Seminoles on Saturday, they’re going to need some attrition to crawl back into the top four.
The Tigers’ final three opponents have combined records of 9-16, meaning Clemson will be heavy favorites in each one. And the ACC title game won’t be much of a chance for a boost either unless North Carolina continues its seven-game win streak. Clemson is a logical choice for No. 1 right now, but don’t be surprised if it slips below an undefeated team as the season goes on because of schedule concerns. Remember Florida State last year?
4. Memphis is, as it should be, in control of the Group of Five’s New Year Six bowl berth: The Tigers are the highest-ranked team from outside the Power Five conferences at No. 13. It’s one spot ahead of the two Big 12 teams from Oklahoma, one of which is undefeated.
The Tigers are one of three ranked teams from the AAC and they play the two others, Temple and Houston, in November. Temple is at No. 21 after losing to Notre Dame and Houston is at No. 25. With two ranked wins possibly to come, Memphis could crack the top 10 if it stays undefeated and easily get the non-Power Five berth to a prestigious bowl. And maybe, just maybe, if all heck breaks loose among the teams currently above Memphis, the Tigers could come near a top-four spot.
5. Don’t overreact: We saw last year how much the rankings fluctuated from week-to-week with seemingly inconsistent explanations and focus points from the committee. Remember the first sentence from our first point? Let that be your guide. Don’t stress about these rankings if you feel your team is ranked too low. This is all going to be different next week and the only set of rankings that matter are the ones released after the final week of the season. Sure, these rankings are going to be fun to debate every Tuesday, but don’t get worked up about them. Please.
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