Well, the College Football Playoff Committee is impressed with the Clemson Tigers. Declaring them as the No. 1 seed after nine weeks of play, Dabo Swinney’s club simply has to avoid “Clemson-ing” to compete for this year’s National Championship.
LSU, Ohio State and Alabama fill out the rest of the playoff bracket, with the committee clearly impressed with the SEC once again. Big 12 fans aren’t ready to lose their minds yet, as there is still plenty of football left before the complaining can commence.
Let’s take a quick look at the winners and losers from the College Football Playoff’s initial rankings:
Ohio State (No. 3)
While all four teams who currently find themselves in the top four are obviously the big winners, there was legitimate doubt that Ohio State wouldn't be among this group in the initial rankings. Having looked surprisingly mediocre in their first eight games, Ohio State hasn’t wowed anyone based on their strength of schedule or performance. Still getting respect as the No. 3 seed provides a huge sense of relief to Columbus. Wins over Michigan and Michigan State would certainly guarantee a repeat trip back to the Playoff.
Notre Dame (No. 5)
Notre Dame finds itself ranked No. 5 in the country, despite losing to Clemson this year. With LSU and Alabama squaring off against one another this weekend, Notre Dame will find itself in the top four at the end of the week. This means the Fighting Irish simply need to win out to clinch a playoff berth. It will be easier said than done with a road game at Stanford looming the final week of the season, but this initial ranking proved they have a legitimate chance at a playoff berth.
The Big 12
Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State have a combined 24-0 record, yet find themselves ranked 6th, 8th and 14th. After last season’s Playoff absence, it’s clear that the committee looks down upon their strategy of cakewalk non-conference scheduling. Sorry Big 12 fans, but playing Lamar, SMU and a bunch of FCS schools still isn’t going to cut it. One of these three will need to finish the season undefeated if they are to have any chance of representing the conference.
Michigan State (No. 7)
The Spartans have looked far from impressive since their emotional win over the Oregon Ducks, but have to feel as if they are being slighted. Their miraculous win over Michigan has been chalked up to luck, but staying undefeated in the Big Ten is no easy task. Sitting behind two teams who already have one loss (Alabama, Notre Dame) can’t sit well with Michigan State. Luckily for the Spartans, their match-up with the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 21st will have major playoff implications, and a victory would certainly be enough to launch them into the top four.