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It's a tough task for the playoff committee to come up with the right balance of eye test and what has actually happened on the field. However, in the process, the 12 members are looking mostly at head-to-head results and strength of schedules. So, with that in mind - it's not about what you believe, it's about what you can prove - here are the inconsistencies along with what the top 25 should've been.
1. LSU at 19
In the process, each committee member has to go through each team and each slot on its own merit. On the one hand, LSU struggles with the eyeball test having been blown out by Auburn and struggling against Mississippi State until a late charge, and there’s an obvious issue with the two-loss status. However, the two losses came against the CFP No. 1 and No. 3 teams. I think Alabama is going to play for the national title, and if I had to rank teams right now based on what I believe, it would be No. 1. However, based on what has actually happened so far – and remember, this can, will and should change over the coming weeks – at the immediate moment, the SEC West pecking order has to be Mississippi State, then Auburn, then LSU, then Ole Miss, then Alabama, since there are no other losses involved among those five SEC West teams other than to each other. At 7-2 with a win over the No. 4 team, Ole Miss, a No. 19 ranking is absolutely absurd. It’s one of the two glaring mistakes in the initial rankings.
2. Ole Miss can’t and shouldn’t be in the top four
And here’s the other one. I know exactly what the rationale was for putting Ole Miss No. 4 – it beat Alabama. Throw out any other argument you want to make, the “it beat Alabama” comeback is hard to get past. However, the Rebels’ one loss came against the now-CFP No. 19 team, LSU. The most acceptable loss by any one-loss team so far, theoretically, is Auburn’s loss against No. 1 Mississippi State. The second-most acceptable loss is Notre Dame’s loss at No. 2 Florida State, and the third-most acceptable loss is Kansas State’s over No. 3 Auburn. At the moment, if you’re really going to do this based on merit, Notre Dame – who was too low at No. 10 - has to be the No. 4 team and Kansas State No. 5 instead of No. 9.
3. The Texas A&M problem
You’ve got to work with me a little on this one. The key is Texas A&M’s win over South Carolina to start the season. The 52-28 blowout is the gateway, because South Carolina beat Georgia and East Carolina. So, considering Texas A&M’s losses came to No. 1 Mississippi State, No. 4 Ole Miss, and No. 6 Alabama, then, in theory, with no other losses to go off of, you have to rank Texas A&M just behind Alabama and ahead of Georgia. However, with the three losses, if you want to put the Aggies somewhere behind the Arizona-Oregon-Michigan State-Nebraska tier of one-loss teams, fine.
4. The Pac-12 South pecking order isn’t so hot
It’s a hard argument considering Utah lost to Washington State, so it’s not a glaring misfire, but it’s still sort of wrong. Utah beat UCLA, and UCLA destroyed Arizona State. UCLA and Arizona State didn’t play Washington State. So in this three-team tie-breaking scenario, the pecking order should be No. 17 Utah, No. 22 UCLA, No. 14 Arizona State. Again, 28-27 at home to Wazzu kills the fight, but the Utes’ win over USC helps.
5. No. 23 East Carolina has to be ranked ahead of No. 16 Ohio State
East Carolina’s loss to South Carolina hurts the cause, but at least the Gamecocks beat Georgia. Ohio State’s best win so far came against Maryland, and it’s being given too much credit for running through a bad schedule. Meanwhile ECU beat Virginia Tech 28-21 one week after the Hokies trounced Ohio State in Columbus. Considering who Virginia Tech has lost to – East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Miami – the Ohio State home loss is the second-worst of anyone ranked in the top 25 behind Utah’s gaffe to Washington State. In fact, based on merit, a reasonable case could be made to put Ohio State somewhere around 23.
5. Next Tuesday, same time, same station
Remember, we’re in a new era. With the old way of ranking teams in the AP and Coaches polls, they came out one week and then were adjusted as the weeks went along. Not anymore with the CFP rankings – this is officially a ranking, by the way, and not a poll. Everything you see in this week’s rankings, and everything everyone is analyzing gets completely and totally thrown out. Rip these rankings up on Monday, because the committee is starting from scratch. The rankings are a snapshot, not an indicator. Until we get to December 7th and we know the Power 5 conference champions, don’t worry.
7. At the moment, if done absolutely as correctly as possible based on what has happened so far, the rankings on Oct. 29 should be …
1. Mississippi State (CFP: No. 1)
2. Florida State (CFP: No. 2)
3. Auburn (CFP: No. 3)
4. Notre Dame (CFP: No. 10)
5. Kansas State (CFP: No. 9)
6. LSU (CFP: No. 19)
7. Ole Miss (CFP: No. 4)
8. Alabama (CFP: No. 6)
9. Arizona (CFP: No. 12)
10. Oregon (CFP: No. 11)
11. Michigan State (CFP: No. 8)
12. Nebraska (CFP: No. 15)
13. Texas A&M (CFP: Not Ranked)
14. Georgia (CFP: No. 11)
15. Clemson (CFP: No. 21)
16. East Carolina (CFP: No. 23)
17. Baylor (CFP: No. 13)
18. TCU (CFP: No. 7)
19. Oklahoma (CFP: No. 18)
20. West Virginia (CFP: No. 20)
21. Utah (CFP: No. 17)
22. UCLA (CFP: No. 22)
23. Arizona State (CFP: No. 14)
24. Ohio State (CFP: No. 16)
25. Duke (CFP: No. 24)
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