When the calendar hits November, that means it’s time to put away the Halloween costumes and bring out the crystal balls. The first College Football Playoff rankings are here — and it’s time to make some fun predictions.
The first of six CFP Top 25 reveals takes place tonight at 7 pm ET on ESPN (Here is the full schedule; The second ranking is November 8) ahead of the announcement, here’s a prediction of how the committee might rank its top 25 teams. Please note that these are my predictions and mine alone. I look at head-to-head results, strength of schedule, games against ranked teams, and more to help rank teams as I think the CFP committee would do. You can read The CFP Board’s official Code of Conduct is here.
College Football Playoff Ranking Predictions: Top 25 Predictions
- Georgia (8-0) – Here’s thinking a non-blowout conference win over Oregon with overall dominance (mainly Mizzou aside) counts for a lot.
- Tennessee (8-0) – A 38-point defeat of Kentucky could propel the Vols into first place. Wins against the Wildcats boost LSU on the road, and yes, Alabama makes a strong case for No. 1.
- Ohio State (8-0) – The Buckeyes have been tested for a long time, but OSU still came away with a 13-point road win against a ranked team in Penn State. An improved Notre Dame helps Ohio State’s case for the top spot.
- Michigan (8-0) — Initial ranking no. 4 spot might be more interesting, a glimpse into what the committee values for that all-important final playoff spot. The Wolverines look good right now, period, that way Penn State stands out.
- Clemson (8-0) — The Tigers could have slipped to fourth — and they still could — but their wins over Wake Forest and Syracuse didn’t seem like much after those teams’ Week 9 losses.
- TCU (8-0) — The Horned Frogs may be the last undefeated team in the poll, but TCU has come a long way since August. Continue to win and wait for other undefeated teams to slip away.
- Alabama (7-1) – It would be a shock if the Tide weren’t a top-ranked losing team, given their last game loss at Tennessee. Next comes a key two-game stretch against LSU and Ole Miss.
- Oregon (7-1) – The opening loss to UGA was ugly, but the Ducks have looked pretty good since then. Much of the remaining schedule, starting Nov. 12 against Washington, isn’t easy.
- UCLA (7-1) – Taking care of business against Stanford, 38-13, the Bruins have no hangover after losing to Oregon. Unless things are different, UCLA should be 9-1 when facing rival USC.
- Ole Miss (8-1) – The Rebels regrouped after losing to LSU by 25 points to top Texas A&M. Ole Miss has yet to win big, but the Rebels do get a visit from Alabama on Nov. 12.
- USC (7-1) – Caleb Williams’ 411 passing yards helped the Trojans outscore Arizona 45-37. USC is still looking for a signature hit, and it could be outside the top 10 at first.
- Kansas State (6-2) – While there are other candidates for the distinction, such as LSU and Utah, the Wildcats could be a top two loss team. But the fresh memory of a 48-0 thrashing of Oklahoma State is a result that can’t be missed.
- Illinois (7-1) – The Illini fell off the undefeated list only with a three-point loss to Indiana in the second game of the season. That defense and running back Chase Brown are a great recipe for success.
- LSU (6-2) – Tigers have an interesting case. There are two losses, but LSU has been good — and fun to watch — lately. We’ll find out more when the Tigers play at Alabama on Saturday.
- Utah (6-2) – With two losses but a clutch win against USC, the Utes will end up here.
- Penn State (6-2) – The blowout loss to Michigan wasn’t pretty, but the team won’t punish the Nittany Lions too much for the Ohio State loss. However, there were no ranking successes.
- North Carolina (7-1) – The Tar Heels scored the last 28 points to outscore Pitt and earn their seventh straight win. This is another team that could rank in a few spots.
- Oklahoma State (6-2) – An ugly 48-0 loss to K-State gave the Cowboys a chance to crack the CFP top 10.
- Syracuse (6-2) – Consecutive losses and injuries hurt the Orange, but Syracuse has three wins against teams with winning records.
- Tulane (7-1) – The Green Wave loves K-State crushing Oklahoma State. A 17-10 road win over Manhattan, Kansas was a big plus.
- Wake Forest (6-2) — Expect a collection of ACC teams in the second half of the rankings. The Deacons had to respond after falling to Louisville by 27.
- NC State (6-2) — The Wolfpack won’t be here long without QB Devin Leary, but they’ll have an early top-25 spot.
- Kentucky (5-3) – Three losses in four games isn’t great, but the schedule gets a little easier for two weeks. Then visit Georgia.
- Oregon State (6-2) – The Beavers have quietly put together a solid resume. They’ve won three in a row, and the opening win against Boise State is great.
- Texas (5-3) – There are many other ways for the team to get here. Notre Dame, Liberty, Washington and Florida State, to name a few.
Notable College Football Playoff Ranking Questions
Could there be a surprise at No. 1?
Georgia is the national champion, beating Oregon by 46 and rival Florida by 22. That doesn’t mean UGA is ranked No. 1. Ohio State was finally challenged on Saturday, but the Buckeyes still came away with a 13-run win over Penn State over surging Notre Dame. But it’s Tennessee that could cause the biggest “shock” — the No. 1 or No. 2. The blocks have wins against LSU (27), Alabama and Kentucky (38).
What does the order look like for undefeated teams?
There are six teams that are still undefeated. In alphabetical order: Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, TCU and Tennessee. Depending on what you value most, you can come up with different ranking orders for these six. But Georgia vs. Tennessee this week will have as much to say as Michigan vs. Ohio State in a few weeks.
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