Predicting Week 12 Playoff rankings: Did FSU do enough to stay in top 4?
Now we’re in the thick of it.
The 3rd Playoff Poll of 2023 should have intrigue after Michigan and Georgia beat top-10 teams. Will we get movement in the top 3? Also, will Florida State and Washington trade spots after the latter beat a respected and ranked Utah team?
Let’s dig into some predictions for Tuesday night’s Playoff rankings, which will come out at approximately 9 pm ET, or after the conclusion of Game 1 of the Champions Classic between Duke and Michigan State (the basketball teams).
Here’s how I see the top 10 shaking out Tuesday night:
10. Oregon State
I could make a strong case for Mizzou in this spot considering the Tigers just dismantled top-15 Tennessee. But Oregon State has been respected by the selection committee at every turn, and on the heels of a blowout win against Stanford, I’d expect Jonathan Smith’s squad to get its first top-10 Playoff ranking in program history.
There’s 1 thing that will prevent a 2-loss team from jumping Louisville. The Cardinals have 4 victories against Power 5 teams with winning records. Florida State and Alabama are the only contenders with more than that. A nail-biter win against Virginia isn’t suddenly going to drop Jeff Brohm’s squad below a 2-loss team.
Quietly, Alabama’s résumé has aged incredibly well. I say “quietly” because the Texas logjam still exists until either the Longhorns lose another game OR Alabama beats an unbeaten Georgia in the SEC Championship. As it stands among Playoff contenders, Alabama is tied with Florida State for the most victories against a Power 5 team with a winning record (5). That makes that rather pedestrian average margin against Power 5 competition (+11.5) look a bit more understandable.
It’s an outstanding 1-loss résumé. If this were my ranking, Texas would be the top 1-loss team, not Oregon. Why? The Longhorns have the Alabama win, and they have 3 victories against Power 5 teams with a winning record compared to just 2 for Oregon. But I don’t expect a nail-biter win against TCU to vault Texas past Oregon after the Ducks took care of USC at home.
To see my frustration with Oregon as the top 1-loss team, see aforementioned Texas. But the selection committee views it differently than I do. Call it the “eye test” if you will. Oregon avoided a late collapse against USC, but that average margin against Power 5 competition is still sitting at +21.6. Michigan (+33.6) is the only Playoff contender better than that.
It’s not out of the question that FSU could be bumped into this No. 5 spot after struggling against Miami, but I think the selection committee would have a better case for that if Washington wasn’t riding a streak of 6 consecutive wins by 10 points or less. Because of how stagnant the rankings have been, I don’t expect the selection committee to make a move like that when the Pac-12 Championship — if we get a Washington-Oregon rematch — will be the true closing argument.
4. Florida State
I know the slow starts have been frustrating, but think about this: Even though the LSU win hasn’t quite aged as well as they hoped, the Seminoles have 5 wins against Power 5 teams with a winning record. That’s tied with Alabama for the most among contenders. That’s something to keep in mind if FSU is a 1-loss team heading into that final ranking.
Wait, what? Still at No. 3? How? The Wolverines went on the road and beat a top-10 team. Why would the selection committee not jump the Buckeyes and Georgia? It’s not Connor Stalions/Jim Harbaugh-related. It’s related to the fact that Michigan still just has 2 wins against Power 5 teams with a winning record. Yes, it’s slightly better than Ohio State’s win against Penn State. But is it enough to jump the Buckeyes and their deeper résumé with twice as many victories against Power 5 teams with winning records? No.
2. Ohio State
This isn’t about Ohio State looking vulnerable. If anything, the Buckeyes finally showed that they could dominate from start to finish. But the résumé no longer definitively boasts 2 wins better than Georgia and Michigan. Penn State losing to Michigan hurts, and then 3-loss Notre Dame was idle following the Clemson loss. Georgia, meanwhile, just beat a pair of top-15 teams at home, both of which were by multiple scores. That forces the selection committee to make its first real move inside the top 4.
Beating a top-10 Ole Miss team like a drum was exactly what could push the Dawgs into that No. 1 spot. That was a loud statement against a respected Ole Miss team, which only had that road loss at Alabama to speak of. It also helped that current résumé that Mizzou clubbed Tennessee, which means Georgia could have victories against a pair of teams ranked in the top 15 in Tuesday’s poll. In other words, no longer can you say that Ohio State has 2 wins better than any wins by Georgia. The Dawgs also have the same amount of victories against Power 5 teams with a winning record (4) with a slightly better average margin against Power 5 teams (+19.9 compared to +19.1 for Ohio State). Ultimately, that gives Georgia its first No. 1 ranking in the Playoff poll.