Predicting Week 13 Playoff rankings: B1G is safe, but will Florida State get bumped after the Jordan Travis injury?
Three down, 3 to go.
Sorry. That sounded like I disliked the Playoff rankings show. I don’t. I do, however, get to weeks like this and I find myself asking this question: Is a whole production really necessary after a week with such little chaos at the top? No way.
Will I still watch it and overreact to it? Yes, way.
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And will I also still predict what I think the top 10 will look like? Absolutely.
Here’s that prediction, and remember, this is how I think the selection committee will rank the field, not how I would rank the field:
A slight bump down after last week could be in store. Why? While I was surprised that the selection committee made Mizzou its first 2-loss team to be ranked ahead of a 1-loss team, this is more about Louisville going on the road and beating Miami than it is about Mizzou needing a last-second field goal to beat a 5-win Florida team at home. The Tigers should still hold down a top-10 spot that’ll help No. 1 Georgia.
The Cardinals shook off being a slight underdog at 6-win Miami and came away with yet another hard-fought victory. Jeff Brohm’s squad is going to have an opportunity to go 11-1 if it can beat a bowl-bound Kentucky team, and who knows? With Florida State now playing without Jordan Travis, never say never when it comes to the Cardinals having a say in the top 4. They do currently lead the Playoff contenders with 6 victories against Power 5 teams with a winning record.
That Texas logjam isn’t going anywhere without a Texas loss, which didn’t happen at Iowa State, or an SEC Championship win against Georgia. I suppose the only positive development for the Tide’s future potential résumé was that Georgia rolled at Tennessee and should be at 13-0 with the longest win streak in SEC history (29 games) heading into Atlanta. There are no style points at stake at Jordan-Hare in the Iron Bowl.
Has it been pretty the past 3 games? No, but when you’re at this stage, this is all about avoiding that second loss. The Longhorns have done that, and they’ll look to continue to do that against a Texas Tech squad that’s won 3 in a row. After that, all we know is that Steve Sarkisian’s squad will face a team with multiple losses in the Big 12 Championship. Texas still is the only team with a road win over a team that’s currently ranked inside the top 10 of the AP Poll, and obviously, it’s the logjam that’s frustrating the Tide faithful.
It’s a bit of an overrated résumé because the Ducks’ best win is at 4-loss Utah with a backup quarterback. Is Salt Lake City an extremely difficult place to play? Sure. Is it worthy of putting Oregon as the top-ranked 1-loss team when it has the fewest victories against Power 5 teams with a winning record among Playoff contenders? Not in my opinion. But this is about the selection committee, who’ll have a ton of eyeballs on the last Civil War this weekend.
I’m not saying winning at Oregon State meant nothing. It absolutely continued to bolster Washington’s résumé, and with 4 different conferences still boasting unbeaten teams heading into Rivalry Week, that’s huge. But the selection committee hasn’t been overly reactionary when it comes to shuffling top-10 teams that maintain the same number of losses. Plus, with nothing but wins by 10 or fewer in the past 7 games, Washington hasn’t exactly flexed the “we’re a complete team” muscle that the selection committee has typically rewarded.
4. Florida State
If the selection committee actually ranks FSU at No. 5 because of Jordan Travis’ injury, that would be premature in every way. I’m gonna give the selection committee some credit and say that it’ll let this play out. If the Seminoles pull a 2014 Ohio State and roll with a backup quarterback, yes, they absolutely should get in. If they lose to Florida or Louisville, the conversation will take care of itself. There’s no reason for the selection committee to add to the conversation by forecasting weakness instead of evaluating the résumé.
Is there a case for Michigan to move up to No. 2 past Ohio State? Not really. If it didn’t happen after the Penn State win, I don’t believe it’ll happen after winning at Maryland, especially after the Buckeyes trucked Minnesota. This will play itself out this weekend in Ann Arbor, but what’s interesting is that unlike last year when Ohio State got into the Playoff after losing “The Game,” it doesn’t feel like the path will be there for a non-Big Ten champ. Why? There are 5 unbeaten Power 5 teams left and that’s not including 1-loss teams Texas, Oregon and Alabama, all of whom would have better 1-loss résumés than a non-Big Ten champ Michigan or Ohio State.
2. Ohio State
The Buckeyes have continued to boost that average margin against Power 5 competition, but is it a good enough résumé to make it as a non-Big Ten champ like last year? I don’t believe so. The Big Ten hasn’t helped in that regard. That’s why it’ll all come down to Saturday’s showdown in Ann Arbor. As daunting as that might seem for a program trying to snap a 2-game losing streak in the matchup, having control of that Playoff path heading into Rivalry Week is about as much as one can ask for.
There’s no debate at this point about who No. 1 is. The only debate is about what it could look like if Georgia were to lose to a 1-loss Alabama team in the SEC Championship. Obviously, no UGA fan wants to think about that possibility. A team rocking a 28-game winning streak isn’t exactly planning out scenarios for losses. But if that résumé does come into question with a potential Alabama loss, Georgia has set itself up well. It could have wins against a pair of 10-win teams if Mizzou and Ole Miss both take care of business this weekend. That average margin against Power 5 competition is also up to +20.9, which is behind only Michigan (+30.3) and Oregon (+23.2) among Playoff contenders. Georgia might not appear to have a Playoff spot locked in heading into Atlanta like it had the last 2 years, but a little chaos in Rivalry Week could make that possible.