The postseason officially starts on Friday, and it’s time for the fifth and penultimate College Football Playoff rankings.
There was some change last week at the top as Washington took over No. 4 and Florida State slipped out of the playoff to No. 5; Georgia, Ohio State, and Michigan stayed strong as the top trio. Oregon remained the top one-loss team at No. 6 while Texas, Alabama, Missouri, and Louisville held strong in the 7-10 slots. Penn State moved up to No. 11 and Ole Miss returns to the soon-to-be playoff picture at No. 12.
The key variables and factors that guide the committee’s selection process are:
- Accolades (conference championships)
- Win-loss record
- Head-to-head results
- Strength of schedule vs. results
- Relative performance
- Recent play
- Semi-tangibles such as “game control”
- “Other relevant factors such as unavailability of key players and coaches that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.” per the CFP website.
Week 13 saw a great weekend of football, highlighted by a legendary edition of the Iron Bowl, Iowa State visiting Kansas State in a game nicknamed “Farmageddon” and a statement win from Michigan in the 119th edition of “The Game”.
After the turbulent yet memorable weekend, I would argue the CFP rankings entering the conference championships would resemble this:
25. SMU Mustangs (10-2, NR): The Mustangs finished their final regular season before moving to the ACC with an undefeated AAC campaign, eight consecutive wins, the most recent being a 59-14 beatdown against Navy, and punched their ticket to the AAC Championship Game at Tulane. Despite the success, there’s a large cloud over Dallas right now; sophomore quarterback Preston Stone left the first half via cart with an apparent leg injury. He has 3,204 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and six interceptions in his first year as the starter. The Mustangs travel to Tulane for the conference championship on Saturday.
24. Oregon State Beavers (8-4, -8): The Beavers were no match for the Ducks in Autzen, falling 31-7, in what very well could be the last edition of the Oregon Civil War for the foreseeable future. Oregon State’s season ends on a very bitter note, losing a heartbreaker to No. 5 Washington last week and then getting embarrassed by their in-state arch-rivals. Junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei was 19-for-35 in the air with 220 passing yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The Beavers’ running game was completely shut down, only posting 53 yards on over 20 attempts. Sophomore running back Damien Martinez was nowhere to be seen, posting 38 rushing yards on 13 attempts with no runs longer than six yards. The future for Oregon State looks bleak: no conference, no head coach after Jonathan Smith announced he was leaving for Michigan State. As the dust settles, the Beavers finish Pac-12 play 5-4 and await a Bowl bid.
23. Clemson Tigers (8-4, +1): The Tigers made the most of November, going 4-0, including two wins over ranked opponents and a win over in-state rival South Carolina 16-7. The only Tigers touchdown came on a defensive scoop-n-score mere seconds into the game. The defense stepped up for Dabo Sweeney in place of offense, limiting the Gamecocks to a mere 169 total yards, and only 57 on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Cade Klubnik posted only 100 passing yards while running back battery juniors Phil Mafah and Will Shipley split carries and put up 89 and 80 yards, respectively. After a lackluster 4-4 ACC campaign, they, too, await a bowl bid.
22. Liberty Flames (12-0, +3): The Flames complete a perfect regular season with a 42-28 road win against UTEP. The win was entirely on the back of the running game, posting 431 yards across seven players with at least 30 yards rushing. Junior running back Quinton Cooley was especially efficient, scoring three touchdowns on 83 rushing yards, eclipsing the thousand-yard rushing mark along the way. Sophomore quarterback Kaidon Salter threw for a mere 22 yards and a touchdown, additionally gaining 76 yards on the ground. Liberty looks to cap an untattered C-USA season with a conference title at home against New Mexico State on Friday.
21. Tulane Green Wave (11-1, +2): Tulane takes care of UTSA to secure an undefeated AAC season and home-field advantage for the conference title game. The win came despite senior quarterback Michael Pratt’s sub-standard performance. Pratt was 9-for-22 for 125 yards and two touchdowns. But freshman running back Makhi Hughes picked up the slack, rushing for 166 yards and a touchdown. The defense was also exemplary in the win-or-go-home faceoff, forcing two fumbles and three interceptions. The Green Wave host SMU on Saturday, and the winner will presumably be the Group of Five’s representative in a New Year’s Six bowl.