Perhaps Alabama shouldn’t be worried about any team except Alabama. Although conventional wisdom has it that the Crimson Tide will roll over Auburn Saturday and Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game a week later, Bama’s 11-0 record doesn’t assure no misstep.
The College Football Playoff, though, and all other reputable college football polls, have Coach Nick Saban’s Alabama a solid number one less than two weeks before the decision on the four playoff teams.
Tuesday night’s CFP ranking was predictable at the top with Alabama followed in order by Ohio State, Michigan, and Clemson.
They are followed by Washington, Wisconsin, and Penn State.
That’s four Big Ten teams in the top seven.
Has anyone been watching these games?
Our feeling for some time has been that athletics directors have no business on the CFP selection committee. You almost couldn’t find any group less likely to be paying attention to the entire landscape of college football. On Saturdays, the ADs everywhere are doing what they are supposed to do. They are watching their team – the cash cow of the department – and schmoozing with the big donors, who make up most of the balance.
There is one athletics director who is particularly suspicious, Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez. Not only is he a respected AD, he is former head coach at Wisconsin; and he is known to be quite persuasive.
No one who is not in the room with the selectors (and, by the way, one could probably pick 50 more qualified) can know for sure the influence Alvarez has, but the bias in favor of the Big Ten is unmistakable.
One cannot ignore the early season losses, but who can watch college football and not realize that Big Ten wins – Penn State over Ohio State; Michigan and Ohio State over Wisconsin – are anything but straw man results. Those are big wins because of the rankings. Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Southern Cal (that 52-6 loss to Alabama is not going to be overlooked) are playing better than any of the Big Ten teams. Ohio State escapes Michigan State (3-8, wins over Furman [3-8], Notre Dame [4-7], and Rutgers [2-9]) and Michigan loses to Iowa.
Perhaps the Big Ten will have some unmistakeable fails over the next couple of weeks that will loosen that league’s hold on the CFP poll.
But, as Saban reminds us, it is what it is.
And so here are this week’s rankings – the emphasis on rank:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Southern Cal
- Florida State
- West Virginia
- Boise State
- Western Michigan
- Washington State