College Football Playoff Rankings – How Cincinnati Can Stay in the Top Four & How Alabama Could Quit


Undefeated, Cincinnati made history Tuesday night when they became the first team in a Group 5 conference to make the top four on the college football playoff selection committee.

Now the challenge is to stay there.

With only two standings remaining, a lot can still be done to change the game – especially with the conference championship games looming – but 22 of the last 28 CFP semi-finalists have been placed in the top four. at this point in the season. The lowest ranking for a possible playoff team with two remaining rankings is No.7.

As expected, Ohio State gained a spot at No.2 after its 56-7 dismantling from Michigan State, pushing Alabama to No.3 after Tide’s 42-35 win over Arkansas. It was the first time the selection committee had dropped Alabama in their rankings after a victory the previous weekend. This could mean the Tide is in trouble if it doesn’t win the SEC.

Georgia are probably the only team right now that’s a lock – win or lose in their conference championship game. The Bulldogs are one of eight teams with a chance to finish in the top four on selection day, Dec. 5.

Seven of those eight teams are in the top seven on ESPN’s record strength metric, which has been one of the most consistent indicators of past semi-finalists. The measure measures the chance that an average top 25 team would have hitting the same record, and 24 of the last 28 teams to reach the playoffs were in the top four in the final record strength standings.

Here’s a breakdown of the top eight candidates, ranked by the selection committee on Tuesday:

Remaining time: Saturday at Georgia Tech, Dec. 4 against Alabama in the SEC Championship.

How they enter: Winning the SEC will cement a place in the top four, but Georgia will also likely end up as a semi-finalist even if they lose to Tide. It’s hard to imagine the committee leaving Georgia out of the top four if they’ve been No.1 in five straight rankings, and their only loss is to a top-four team.

Why they might be left out: If, by any luck, Alabama beats Georgia the same way Ohio State beat Michigan State last week, the selection committee might want to rethink how far Georgia sinks into a defeat. Georgia’s defense is so good, however, it seems highly unlikely that they would give up enough points to make this scenario realistic. And no, Georgia doesn’t lose to Georgia Tech. Literally nothing this season would be more surprising.

Registration strength: No. 1

Remaining time: Saturday in Michigan. The winner will win the Big Ten East Division and face Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game on December 4. (The most likely scenario is Wisconsin, which can win the West on Saturday with a victory over Minnesota Where losses by Iowa and Purdue).

How they enter: Win it all. There’s not much, if any, margin for error following the Sept. 11 loss to Oregon – which now looks worse after the Ducks’ performance last week in Utah.

Why they might be left out: No conference title. This could happen with a loss to Michigan on Saturday Where a loss in the Big Ten Championship game. The problem for the committee with an upheaval in the Big Ten title game, however, is that three of the big five conferences – the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 – would be all have champions with more than one loss. A three-game losing Wisconsin doesn’t come in, even with a Big Ten title. And what if Alabama loses again? The top four could be Georgia, Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.

Registration strength: No. 7

Remaining time: Saturday in Auburn, December 4 against Georgia in the SEC Championship

How they enter: Earn the SEC. The Tide have already clinched a spot in the conference championship game, so even if they lose to Auburn, they can still win the SEC. A two-losing Tide team that beats the nation’s No.1 team to win the league. A two-game losing Alabama who does not winning the SEC is a big debate. Alabama are expected to lose a close game against Georgia in this scenario. The committee should view Alabama “unequivocally” as one of the top four teams in the country, and that would be measured in exactly the same way as a loss to Notre Dame, which also wouldn’t have a conference championship. .

Why they might be left out: A loss to Auburn on Saturday could do just that. If the tide don’t beat Auburn they absolutely will have win the SEC to finish in the top four.

Registration strength: n ° 3

Remaining time: Friday in East Carolina, Dec. 4 against Houston in the American Athletic Conference Championship game. Cincinnati will be the home team with a victory Friday at ECU.

How they enter: Win and hope nothing changes. Cincinnati is two wins from a truly historic season.

Why they might be left out: Beyond the obvious defeat, Cincinnati must also fear being blown up by Oklahoma State on selection day. The Cowboys have more opportunities to impress the committee and possibly skip Notre Dame and Cincinnati when it matters most. As the Bearcats wrap up their season against unranked ECU and No.24 Houston, Oklahoma State will have a chance to beat two CFP’s top 10 teams in Oklahoma No.10 and possibly Baylor No.8 in the game for the Big 12 title.

Registration strength: No. 2

Remaining time: Saturday against Ohio State. The winner will win the Big Ten East Division and face Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game on December 4. (The most likely opponent is Wisconsin, who can win the West on Saturday with a victory over Minnesota Where losses by Iowa and Purdue).

How they enter: Win the Big Ten.

Why they might be left out: A second defeat. Michigan has lost to Michigan State before, so losing even a close game to Ohio State would almost certainly eliminate the Wolverines. If they beat Ohio State but lose in the Big Ten Championship game, the conference will likely be out of CFP this year, barring chaos elsewhere.

Registration strength: n ° 5

Remaining time: Saturday at Stanford.

How they enter: More surprises and a convincing 3-8 win over Stanford. (See No. 2 Ohio State for a possibility). If the Irish can’t get in with Cincinnati, they have to hope the Bearcats lose to Houston in the AAC Championship game. Someone – whether it’s Ohio State or Michigan – is obviously going to lose because they go head to head, which will open up a spot ahead of Notre Dame, but that would only get them to fifth place if there is. two more SEC teams. , the Big Ten champion and Cincinnati. To have a realistic shot, Notre Dame needs Alabama to have two losses, Cincy to lose and hope the Big 12 champion has two losses. Even if Cincinnati loses, however, the selection committee will still have to debate the Bearcats head-to-head outcome at Notre Dame. It’s a debate Notre Dame might not win, which is why she might use even more chaos.

Why they might be left out: The top four remain the status quo, with two SEC teams, undefeated Cincinnati and the Big Ten champion – or Oklahoma State finishing as a Big 12 champion with one loss and earning a top four spot.

Registration strength: Number 4

Remaining time: Saturday vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 4 vs. TBD in the Big 12 Championship game. If Oklahoma wins on Saturday, the Sooners will face Oklahoma State again in the Big 12 Championship game. If Oklahoma State wins and Baylor wins, the Pokes will face the Bears. If Baylor loses, Oklahoma advances.

How they enter: Finish as a Big 12 champion in one loss and get extra help. Oklahoma State could potentially jump undefeated Cincinnati on Selection Day, but would obviously have more chances if the Bearcats lose. He could also benefit from eliminating a two-game losing Alabama. Another chaos would certainly help – like a two-losing Big Ten champion – but if the state of Oklahoma can lead the table, it might only need one or two of those things for that to happen. the door opens. Oklahoma State could punctuate its resume against back-to-back CFP top 25 opponents no matter who it faces in the Big 12 title game – Oklahoma’s No.10 or Baylor’s No.8.

Why they might be left out: A loss on Saturday would eliminate Oklahoma State as it would have two losses (also against Iowa State) and no conference title. The Cowboys could also lead the table and still be excluded if Alabama beats Georgia (which would almost assuredly guarantee two SEC teams), the Big Ten champion has a loss and Cincinnati remains undefeated.

Registration strength: Number 6

Remaining time: Saturday in Oklahoma State. Oklahoma, ranked 10th but No.8 here for all intents and purposes, will clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 4 with a win on Saturday.

How they enter: Finish as a one-loss Big 12 champion and hope for more mayhem. The reality is, Oklahoma State is the league’s best prospect for a playoff contender this fall, simply because of how the committee viewed both teams at this point. A one-loss OR team that wins the Big 12 would be considered for a top-four spot, but at least Cincinnati would have to lose and a major Stanford upset against Notre Dame.

Why they might be left out: A loss on Saturday, or the eye test. The selection committee might just continue to think Notre Dame and Cincinnati are better teams, even if the Sooners win the Big 12. At No.10 this week, OR are still looking for two-losing Ole Miss (and two-losing Baylor) . . Oklahoma have also had some close wins this fall against unannounced opponents, starting with a 40-35 win over now 2-9 Tulane in the season opener, and most recently a 35- win. 23 vs. 2-9 Kansas on Oct. 23.

Registration strength: No. 8

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