Last week, it was Oklahoma.
This week, it’s Oregon.
Next week, well, if this “O no” trend continues, it’ll be Ohio State. Okay, so we’re all in the position of not believing Michigan can actually beat the Buckeyes under Jim Harbaugh until it actually happens.
For now, we know it’ll still be Georgia at the top of the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night. What else do we know and not know? Let’s talk about it!
Jesse: I think the big question, while knowing that the answer does not matter at all because it’ll change after the SEC championship game, is, does Ohio State jump Alabama for No. 2? I think they have to. That was nuts on Saturday, the Buckeyes playing then-No. 7 Michigan State and outpacing what Georgia was doing against Charleston Southern for most of the afternoon.
Grace: In my mind, they absolutely have to jump Bama. The Buckeyes have looked phenomenal over the past few weeks, and they’re hitting their stride at the exact right point of the season. Also, Alabama’s near-loss to Florida in September is looking worse by the week, and Arkansas stayed in the running with the Tide all game this weekend. They’re Nos. 2 and 3 for sure, but the next question is — will Cincinnati finally see a top-four spot tonight?
Jesse: I think they have to, right? If not them, who? Michigan wasn’t so amazingly dominant against Maryland as to be able to jump the Bearcats. Notre Dame was that amazingly dominant against Georgia Tech, but there’s still the matter of them having, y’know, lost to Cincinnati. I know that the committee doesn’t necessarily embrace head-to-head, as we saw with Michigan State (hey, they were right!) but it has to be Cincy here, finally. This is… actually a really easy top four?
Grace: I so, so, so hope it’s an easy top four, but I’ve been hurt before by the committee. My concern would be putting Michigan up in the top four to make for a more exciting game with better ratings over Thanksgiving weekend in Ann Arbor. But down the head-to-head line of Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan, I think that it should be Cincy in that fourth spot. And after Oregon got embarrassed for the second time this season, Notre Dame continues to claw their way up toward those top slots. With Wake out, and a few top six matchups in the next two weeks, let’s take a look at where the Big 12 might end up this week, and whether Oklahoma or Oklahoma State could possibly be looking at a top spot next Tuesday.
Jesse: Having watched way too much of Oklahoma during the period of them being undefeated and constantly almost losing until they finally did, I think the committee was correct (I am really not enjoying heaping this praise on these people) in rating them low all those weeks. I have a hard time envisioning Oklahoma State beating them twice, but also have a hard time with the idea of Oklahoma sweeping Bedlam and a Big 12 title game. Or maybe Baylor will be in that? I’ll be honest, I’ve slept on that conference aside from watching those close Sooners games, because it just doesn’t seem to matter that much. I suppose there is a path for the Cowboys or Sooners, though: win the rivalry game and the conference title, have Georgia beat Alabama for the SEC and put them at two losses, and have the Big Ten West winner take that conference title. You’d be left with Georgia, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma/Oklahoma State. And who knows what happens if Cincinnati drops a game. PUT UTSA IN YOU COWARDS!
Grace: Meep meep!! But I do think the path to a Big 12 team in the playoff is an unlikely one — it is really hard to beat the same team twice in a season, and the balance of talent on the best three teams pretty much guarantees they’ll all eventually take each other out of the running. But we’re also looking at those three teams making appearances in the top ten this week alone, which is pretty interesting. Also — while the ACC is, of course, out of the running entirely, I wonder if Clemson gets the chance to pop back into the rankings this week after a rout of Wake Forest that looked almost like the Tigers of old this past Saturday.
Jesse: I do think Clemson is back in the Top 25 this week. Arkansas’ spot is certainly going away, and whatever other shakeups there are, yeah, Clemson is one of the 25 best teams in the country, so no trouble there. I think that this season is making a pretty good case for the expanded playoff. The ACC won’t have a team in because the league is too balanced. The Big 12 and Pac-12, to some extent, are in the same boat. I’m not saying that the SEC and Big Ten are full of weaklings that Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, and Michigan have beaten up on, but I’d be down to watch Pitt-Cincinnati, and if they’re both conference champions, shouldn’t they be getting an opportunity to go to the playoff? There’s always going to be someone on the outside looking in, but why can’t we just do eight teams in — the Power 5 conference champs, plus three at-large? This sport is so needlessly difficult.
Grace: That’s a great point — teams shouldn’t be left out of the playoff conversation simply because they’re in an evenly balanced conference. The committee will easily put in one-loss Georgia and one-loss Alabama if it comes down to that, and while they’re both great teams, the SEC gets the benefit of the doubt there, that nearly no one else would in that situation. If the management committee can make an expansion decision anytime soon, we could be looking at eight or twelve teams in two or three years, but for now, we’re stuck fighting tooth and nail over a subjective top four.
Jesse: It’s weird in the most normal of years that you’ve got five power conferences and one is always going to be out of the playoff mix. This year, it’s incredibly likely that three of the five will be sending their champs to “mere” New Year’s Six bowls. It’s a bizarre way to do things, but I guess still better than having the best teams not necessarily ever even play each other, then leaving it up to a vote for who’s the champion. I’m stuck now on this scenario where Alabama goes to two losses, and Cincinnati and Ohio State/Michigan also lose their conference title games. WAIT, WHAT IF ALABAMA LOSES THE IRON BOWL AND THEN BEATS GEORGIA? I’m really here for the chaos. But this week: Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama, Cincinnati… and then Michigan with a chance to win its way into the top four?
Grace: With the way this season has gone so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these scenarios came true. This really is the best kind of CFB season there is, and I’m praying for even more chaos in the last two weeks (mostly because I’m not the one who actually has to make the decisions). So here are my top ten for this week:
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Ole Miss
Jesse: I put my top 5 above, and we match on those, plus Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. I don’t want to wade into Oklahoma/Baylor, where one team has one loss but the other beat them, so I’ll just let OSU be my Big 12 placeholder, since unlike the ACC, that’s a conference with a lot of trash in it that these teams have beaten up on/squeaked past.
8. Ole Miss