I am surprised by the top 4 teams according to the College Football Playoff Committee. I am surprised not because I don’t believe any of the teams belong, but because I think the Committee did a great job. I also think that there are cases to be made for many of the teams sitting outside the top 4, but ultimately this first ranking isn’t the most important. But what did we learn from this ranking?
Strength of Schedule
Baylor is sitting at 6. They have obliterated pretty much every team they have played. Why were they not ranking higher? I think there are various reasons (couple I will cover later), but the SoS is important. In the top 12 teams, 4 have a SoS above 50 (only 1 in top 4). Even more telling…
Strength of Record
In the top 4 teams, #1 Clemson is #1 in SoR, #4 Alabama is #2 in SoR, and #2 LSU is #3 in SoR. This means that playing good teams is more important that just winning cupcake games. Ohio State’s SoR is #12. So how to get beat out the other teams for a top 4 spot?
Ultimately, I think the committee is doing a great job of utilizing the coaches in the room to break down the teams. The coaches on the committee are very well respected by all coaches. I believe that the committee is impressed with Ohio State’s ability to win games with an unresolved QB situation, all the while winning by an average of 23 points. All the teams in the top 4 have strong arguments as to why they deserve to be above the other teams.
I do see one team that has a legitimate argument to possibly move into 4th above Alabama, and that is Notre Dame. I think Alabama has more upside and a better chance of maintaining a higher ranking if both win out because Alabama could play for a conference championship (with help), something Notre Dame can not.
Last year, out of the 4 playoff teams, only 1 was in the top 4 of the first ranking. Who would my guess be for the team that could be the one who stays in top 4? The winner of the Alabama/LSU game.