5 takeaways from Championship Week College Football Playoff rankings
As expected, Ohio State’s 30-24 loss to Michigan in The Big Game on Saturday sent the Buckeyes tumbling in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, which were released on Tuesday night.
The Buckeyes’ loss moved the undefeated Washington Huskies up to No. 3 in the rankings, two spots behind No. 1 Georgia and one spot behind the Wolverines. Florida State and Oregon were also big beneficiaries of the Buckeye bump, moving to No. 4 and No. 5 respectively.
Then slid in Ohio State, followed by No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Alabama, and you just about have it: The Elite Eight who are still viable possibilities.
Missouri stayed at No. 9, and Penn State comes in at No. 10 after Louisville’s loss to Kentucky. The Cardinals fell to No. 14, behind No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 13 LSU, the highest-ranked 3-loss team.
Surprise team of the year Arizona moved up to No. 15, followed by Iowa, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and ascendant North Carolina State, which moved up 3 spots after being North Carolina. No. 20 Oregon State dropped 4 spots after falling to Oregon, while Tennessee, Tulane, Clemson, Liberty and Kansas State round out the rankings.
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Now let’s dive into some takeaways and try to make some sense of what it all means.
1. Georgia stays on top after shaky win
After 3 consecutive decisive wins over ranked SEC opponents, the Bulldogs looked surprisingly human in a 31-23 win at Georgia Tech. That happens when you’re missing almost a half-dozen stars, including a decimated receiving corps.
But Michigan’s win over Ohio State wasn’t enough to move them ahead of the Dawgs, who won their 29th straight game. Nor did it put much of a dent in Georgia’s status as the big dog in the pool.
Alabama’s desperate Iron Bowl win over Auburn kept them viable, as well, adding a ton of intrigue to the already exciting SEC Championship game on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia would love to see another game out of Kendall Milton after what he did Saturday: a career-high 156 yards.
2. Wolverines seize the day — and coveted 2nd spot
Jimmy’s back and the Wolverines are ready to roll into Saturday’s Big Ten championship matchup with Iowa.
Harbaugh’s return was the first bit of good news for UM this week and Tuesday, as expected, delivered the second happy message. The Wolverines landed exactly where everyone expected them to, and maybe where they already deserved to be.
They’ll have an interesting matchup with the Hawkeyes, who might score negative points against Michigan’s stout defense.
3. Oregon’s body of work beats recency bias
The Ducks have dominated opponents so thoroughly that their early season hiccup against Texas Tech went under the radar for weeks. Oregon had a surprisingly tough time against its former quarterback, Red Raiders’ QB Tyler Shough, in a 38-30 Week 2 win that was even tougher than the final score indicates.
That game didn’t matter much until Saturday, when fellow 1-loss team Texas pummeled it’s in-state “rival” 57-7. The 7th-ranked Longhorns lone loss came to Oklahoma by 4, not too unlike the Ducks’ 3-point loss to Washington.
“We look at everything as we’ve talked about each week that we’ve been here,” Corrigan said. “We’re not relying on one single data point, one single game.”
Texas’ problem? A recent 3-game stretch against Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State that was underwhelming, with just a 16-point combined margin of victory.
“Oregon has continued to dominate,” CFP committee chair Boo Corrigan told ESPN’s Rece Davis. “Obviously the loss to Washington earlier this year, 36-33, (but) coming out of last week and the way they played against an Oregon. State team we really respect as a group — held them to 7 points as opposed to 34, which they’ve averaged on the year. The season Bo Nix is having, 78 percent completion percentage. They just continue to impress the committee with the offense and the defense.”
It remains clear that the Pac-12 will likely get its first CFP entrant since Washington in 2016. The question is, can both teams make it? With a few breaks, just maybe.
4. Florida State sneaks into top 4
The doubts about Tate Rodemaker persist — and Corrigan sounded mighty iffy about him with Davis — but, for now, the Seminoles soared into the No. 4 spot and appeared primed for a CFP bid if they can stave off Louisville on Saturday.
But Jordan Travis’ absence looms large for the ‘Noles.
“Different team without Jordan Travis,” Corrigan said. “Tate Rodemaker continues to, in the game and half he’s played, has done well to manage the game. Trey Benson getting 3 touchdowns in the course of that game, as we talked about last week. It’s more fun than just about 1 player, but obviously they’re a different team without Jordan Travis.”
5. Can Alabama pull off another miracle?
At this point, the Tide are still viable, but many things would have to go right for them to get in.
That loss to Texas is a killer with the Longhorns situated one spot ahead. Would a win over Georgia be enough? And what would that mean for the Bulldogs?
There has never been this much intrigue heading into Championship Week.