Who the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will put in first top four
The College Football Playoff poll is supposed to acknowledge the most deserving four teams based on their resumes.
There’s a reason it doesn’t come out until November. It’s meant to avoid any team getting left out of the playoff picture simply because it started off unranked in the preseason and it didn’t have some unbelievable resume-boosting win.
Having said that, I don’t think the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, which comes out tonight at 7 p.m. ET, will look strictly at quality wins among the remaining unbeatens.
If that were the case, then you could make a really good argument for putting Iowa ahead of both Michigan State and Ohio State. Shoot, you could make a case that Iowa — the only unbeaten team that has three wins against teams receiving Associated Press votes — should be ranked ahead of Baylor, LSU and TCU.
But I’m not saying that’ll happen. In fact, I think the first College Football Playoff poll will reflect a lot of what we’ve seen from the AP voters this year.
Primetime games matter. Upside matters. Reputation matters.
Those are all important when we only have eight games to go by. Most of this should work itself out on the field by season’s end. It’s worth noting that Florida State was the only original top-four team that earned a playoff spot. And just in case you forgot, the eventual national champion Buckeyes were No. 16 in the original College Football Playoff poll (You’re still alive Michigan!).
This isn’t necessarily who I feel deserves to be in the top four tonight, rather who I suspect the committee will go with.
Why the committee will love them: The undefeated SEC team has to be the best, right? Leonard Fournette is the talk of college football right now, and deservingly so. The Tigers have quality wins at then-No. 25 Mississippi State and against then-No. 8 Florida. The Tigers never have games that they look bad because they never turn the ball over and they’ve only won by single digits twice, both of which came against their quality opponents. By any account, LSU deserves to be in the top four, but you can debate whether or not a team with only seven games is as worthy of a team with eight.
Why the committee will love them: When you beat an undefeated Notre Dame team with College GameDay in the house, people notice. It doesn’t matter how soft the Tigers’ conference slate has been with a resume win like that. Teams should be rewarded for scheduling headliner non-conference games. The committee will reward a Clemson team that has done everything and more to earn a top-four spot. The Tigers might also have the easiest road to retain a top-four spot. If Clemson gets past Florida State this weekend, it should be a lock to make the playoff. As long as it doesn’t…you know the rest.
3. Ohio State
Why the committee will love them: Oh hey, the defending national champions and unanimous preseason No. 1 is still undefeated? What’s not to love? Well, Ohio State’s backloaded schedule. Virginia Tech was decimated by injuries so that tough non-conference opener doesn’t look nearly as tough, which is no fault of Ohio State. To earn a top-two spot, you need style points, which Ohio State doesn’t have a ton of. Barely getting past teams like Indiana and Northern Illinois won’t hurt in the national title pursuit, but they will hold the Buckeyes back from opening the CFB poll in the same unanimous fashion they opened the AP poll. But if they win at Michigan and win the B1G title, they could easily set themselves up for the No. 1 seed.
Why the committee will love them: All the points, all the time. The nation’s highest scoring offense — 13 points per game more than second-place TCU — gets more style points than anybody. An unbeaten team that’s been held under 50 points ONCE would seemingly be a lock for a No. 1 seed. Well, just like Ohio State, Baylor doesn’t have a quality non-conference win and is also a victim of a backloaded schedule. It’ll be interesting to see how the committee forecasts the Seth Russell injury. The national perception is that with a freshman replacement and three ranked foes left on the schedule, Baylor’s upside is limited. But hey, last time I checked, backup quarterbacks don’t prevent teams from winning national titles.