Georgia or OSU at No. 1? Predicting College Football Playoff Rankings

The College Football Playoff rankings may soon have a new No. 1 team.

Ohio State earned the top spot in the selection committee’s first top-25 of the season last week. But an uneven win over Rutgers on Saturday could clear the way for Georgia, the two-time defending national champions, to jump the Buckeyes in the rankings.

Overall, nine of the top-10 teams from the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season won in Week 10, with No. 9 Oklahoma being the lone exception. Still, expect some movement at the top. The second edition of this season’s College Football Playoff rankings will be unveiled by ESPN at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Here’s what the top 10 could look like.

1. Georgia (9-0, No. 2 Last Week)

A variety of factors could lead to the selection committee voting the Bulldogs No. 1 in the second rankings of the season. Georgia defeated No. 12 Missouri, 30-21, on Saturday, giving the Bulldogs their best win of the season in terms of opponent ranking. Ohio State, meanwhile, trailed Rutgers at halftime in its eventual 35-16 win. And in another blow to the Buckeyes, Clemon upset No. 15 Notre Dame, handing the Fighting Irish their third loss of the season.

The selection committee highlighted Ohio State’s wins over ranked teams last week as a reason the Buckeyes earned the top spot. Now? Beating Notre Dame doesn’t look as strong on the resume. And Georgia could benefit from that.

2. Ohio State (9-0, No. 1 Last Week)

Beating a bowl-eligible Big Ten team by double-digits on the road ordinarily shouldn’t warrant much criticism, but things are so close between Ohio State and Georgia that falling flat for a half isn’t going to go unnoticed. The Buckeyes outscored the Scarlet Knights 28-7 in the second half, with the comeback sparked by a 93-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jordan Hancock.

3. Michigan (9-0, No. 3 Last Week)

Michigan will likely stand still at No. 3 after a 41-13 win over a not-so-good Purdue team. And, to reiterate, the sign-stealing scandal in Ann Arbor that is the talk of college football will not factor into the committee’s rankings at this point.

“Our job as we look at it is to rank the teams to follow our protocols,” NC State athletics director Boo Corrigan, who chairs the committee, said on ESPN after the first rankings were released. “And as we went through, that really wasn’t part of any of the discussions that occurred in our time together. It’s an NCAA issue, it’s not a CFP issue.

4. Washington (9-0, No. 5 Last Week)

The committee was relatively unimpressed by Washington’s strength of schedule so far this season when it slotted the Huskies in at No. 5. A win over Oregon earlier this season is as strong as any in college football this year, though recent lackluster performances against Arizona State and Stanford left a lot to be desired.

Perhaps a 52-42 win over No. 20 USC (a team that, granted, will be unranked shortly) over the weekend could be enough of a boost for Washington to break into the top four.

Unless Florida State has something to say about that…

5. Florida State (9-0, No. 4 Last Week)

The Seminoles clinched a spot in the ACC title game for the first time in nearly a decade with a 24-7 win over a 2-7 Pittsburgh team on Saturday. Florida State QB Jordan Travis threw for 360 yards and a touchdown, though overall the Seminoles weren’t exactly dominant and could be jumped by Washington as a result.

6. Oregon (8-1, No. 6 Last Week)

There’s no reason the Ducks shouldn’t be the top-ranked one-loss team again this week. Oregon QB Bo Nix threw for 386 yards and accounted for six total touchdowns in a 63-19 win over Cal. Don’t expect much movement among the one-loss teams until Nos. 9 and 10, where the committee will have to do some reconfiguring after Oklahoma’s 27-24 loss to Oklahoma State in the final scheduled Bedlam game.

7. Texas (8-1, No. 7 Last Week)

Texas survived a scare from No. 23 Kansas State with a 33-30 overtime win in Austin. The Longhorns led by 20 points late in the third quarter but came within a goal-line stand from suffering their second loss of the season. Still, no matter the result, a head-to-head win over Alabama in September should protect Texas from being jumped by the Crimson Tide.

8. Alabama (8-1, No. 8 Last Week)

Alabama had a better performance against a ranked team than Texas did in Week 10. The Crimson Tide defeated No. 14 LSU, 42-28, avenging a loss to the Tigers last season. But that 34-24 loss to Texas a couple of months back will continue to hinder Alabama in the rankings. The selection committee takes into account a variety of factors when determining the rankings, including head-to-head results.

“The selection committee ranks the teams based on the members’ evaluation of the teams’ performance on the field, using conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and comparison of results against common opponents to decide among teams that are comparable,” the NCAA website states.

So the Crimson Tide will have a tough time passing the Longhorns until the latter loses, or if Alabama gets a signature win against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

9. Ole Miss (8-1, No. 10 Last Week)

Oklahoma’s loss should see Ole Miss move up one spot this time around. The Rebels scored a go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes of their recent 38-35 win over Texas A&M. Ole Miss’ only loss of the season came on the road against Alabama, and the team will have a shot at a signature win at Georgia in Week 11.

10. Penn State (8-1, No 11 Last Week)

Welcome to the top 10, Penn State. The Nittany Lions are coming off a convincing 51-15 win over Maryland, and Oklahoma’s loss leaves an opening high in the rankings. An eight-point loss on the road to Ohio State is all that is keeping Penn State out of consideration for the top four, but that could change after this week’s matchup with Michigan.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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