The College Football Playoff Committee will soon release their first rankings for the 2016 season. Unless they’ve been watching a completely different season, it’ll be Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington, probably in that order as well, that are in the playoff spots.
That’s also the AP Top 25 order at the moment. Not surprising, considering they’re the only Power 5 conference teams still undefeated after the losses of Nebraska, Baylor and West Virginia over the weekend. Western Michigan are also undefeated, but that will only get them into a New Year’s Day bowl game. No one is putting them in a situation of winning the title, unless everyone else has two losses or more, which is unlikely to happen.
Personally, I think the 1-2-3-4 order should be Alabama, Michigan, Washington and Clemson, if only for the fact that the Huskies have been looking extremely dominant in their wins, while Clemson, in wins against strong teams like Louisville and Florida State, or while playing against the likes of North Carolina State, have been having trouble, and not just recently. But that’s a semantical difference at this point, although as we get closer to D-Day, assuming all these teams win their conference championship games, it’ll be about avoiding Alabama in the semifinal.
But who do teams have to fear? Alabama seem better than everyone in the nation, maybe except for Michigan, Washington and Ohio State on certain days. Washington have a tough game against Washington State to finish the regular season, but besides that it’s difficult imagining anyone really ruining their great year, including the entire Pac-12 South. Virginia Tech are capable of blowing it for Clemson and the ACC, and Wisconsin are the only Big Ten West team good enough to rattle Michigan.
It’ll be interesting to see who the committee places at the 5-6-7 spots, as in the teams they feel are good enough to replace the top 4 at the hour of need. Ohio State will be there, although their loss to Penn State really complicated things for them, even if they upset Michigan. The same goes for Louisville. Their narrow loss to Clemson puts them in a bad spot: Waiting for the Tigers to drop games against the likes of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. It’s not going to happen, probably.
Baylor will probably remain in pole position, even if Oklahoma are the current leaders in the Big 12. With losses to Houston and Ohio State, the best they can hope for is a 2nd consecutive conference title. The playoffs are out of reach. Florida, with one loss, will be in that area as well, but their only shot of making their way into the top 4 is Alabama losing to LSU or Auburn (maybe both? probably not) and obviously winning the SEC championship game. Right now, that seems quite close to impossible, which is a tad depressing regarding the state of parity in the sport.