College Football Top 25: Playoff Editionby Charlie Parent December 6, 2021 0 comments
A college football season that felt surreal is now nearing its final games. Conference championships have been decided and surprises have been had, but the kings have still flexed their muscles. The college football playoff rankings have already come out. But in our rankings this week, we will go through what the committee should’ve done and reflect on some of the mistakes they made on Sunday.
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No 1. Alabama (12-1) (7-1 SEC)
Last week, Alabama sat at the four spot in our rankings but the win over Georgia brings them to the top. There have been arguments made that Michigan should be here but that’s simply not true. Alabama has the better win of the two teams and has proven that in the neutral field and home sites, they are nearly unstoppable. It will be fun to see if this team is the Alabama of the past or if they are the Alabama who have shown the struggles throughout the season.
No 2. Michigan (12-1) (8-1 Big 10)
When we began prepping for the college football season back in August, no one expected Michigan to come this far. They began the year off unranked and are the first team in playoff history to make the playoffs after being unranked in the AP Poll rankings. It’s been fun to watch this team rise. But they will have their biggest test yet in the playoff going up against Georgia.
No 3. Georgia (12-1) (8-0 SEC)
Georgia has been number one wire to wire in the college football playoff rankings but now falls because of the 41-24 blowout loss to the Tide. Many will say they should still be the two seed since they lost to the number one team in the country but there are two arguments to counter this. First, Georgia does not nearly have the top-tier wins Michigan does. Yes, they’ve dominated every opponent in the regular season but their best win comes against Arkansas or Kentucky while Michigan’s is Ohio State. Second, it does not matter what the two are seeded. Michigan and Georgia were both going to play each other no matter what and the difference between two and three plays no part in anything meaningful.
No 4. Cincinnati (13-0) (8-0 American)
The American Conference Championship game featuring Houston and Cincinnati started off as a track meet and we thought the Bearcats might get upset for a second. This was proven wrong, however, as Cincinnati blew the doors open, winning 35-20 after a 14-13 start. This team has earned their spot in the playoff and is the first Group of Five team to make it in, deservingly.
First Two Out
No 5. Ohio State (10-2) (8-1 Big 10)
This will probably be our most controversial spot in these rankings. Ohio State did not win their conference but was still the clear second-best team in the Big 10 and has better wins than most below them. The committee put the Buckeyes at six, below Notre Dame, which is just a bit ridiculous but no matter what we knew Ohio State would be facing Utah in the Rose Bowl, a bowl game that should be thrilling.
No 6. Baylor (11-2) (7-2 Big 12)
Baylor won one of the best games of the season by an inch against Oklahoma State. This asserted the Bears as the king of the Big 12, which could move them to number five but they actually did not play all that well. Oklahoma State threw four interceptions and was in this game to the very end. Baylor should’ve blown them out with that turnover margin but couldn’t get it done. They still won the game and booked their ticket to the Sugar Bowl against Ole Miss.
The Rest of the Pack
No 7. Notre Dame (11-1)
It was a good season for Notre Dame but they just didn’t have quite the résumé that some other teams have. Their one loss comes against the best team they play and their top wins are against 8-4 unranked teams. The Irish have done enough to earn themselves an NY6 Bowl bid but certainly are not a team that we should see in the top six, really to no fault of their own, however.
No 8. Ole Miss (10-2) (6-2 SEC)
Ole Miss stays put in our rankings after not playing in a conference championship game last week. We mentioned this earlier but the Rebels are slated to face off against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl on January 1st. This will be a very interesting game to watch and is a big opportunity for guys like Matt Corral to improve their draft stock one last time before declaring.
No 9. Utah (10-3) (8-1 PAC 12)
After Utah blew out Oregon 38-7 in Week 11 you almost had to think the Ducks wouldn’t just roll over and let it happen again. This was not the case, however. Utah won 38-10 this time and capped off their incredible comeback year. The Utes started out 1-2 before going 9-1 in their remaining games and becoming PAC 12 champions. If they can stick to their game plan from the last few weeks, they truly have a shot against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
No 10. Michigan State (10-2) (7-2 Big 10)
Another team that is standing pat in the rankings (something we’ll see more and more of) is the Spartans. Michigan State had a successful year into Mel Tucker‘s second season but had a serious shot to win the Big 10 and blew it. No matter what happens in their bowl game against Pittsburgh we should see Michigan State improve a bit in recruiting and hopefully build on this season for next year.
No 11. Pittsburgh (11-2) (7-1 ACC)
Pittsburgh could be placed at 10 or even nine but that loss to Western Michigan is still so glaring on their ledger. However, the Panthers are ACC champions after smashing Wake Forest 45-21. Kenny Pickett had one of the most viral clips of the year with his fake slide and mightily improved his stock Saturday night. Pittsburgh now gets to go to the Peach Bowl with their first NY6 bid since 2005.
No 12. Oklahoma State (11-2) (8-1 Big 12)
The Cowboys looked horrible against Baylor. They came off that thrilling Bedlam win, beating Oklahoma 37-33 but could not get anything going in the first half against Baylor and let a freshmen quarterback pick apart their secondary. Oklahoma State still has an NY6 Bowl to play against Notre Dame where we can learn the final piece about how good each of these teams is.
No 13. Oklahoma (10-2) (7-2 Big 12)
Oklahoma’s program is currently in the gutter. Lincoln Riley has left, players are transferring left and right and recruits are long gone. With all this going on, the Sooners still have a bowl game to play and a coach to find. The game obviously does not mean much but it does seem Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables will be headed to Norman to take over the team. This hire is a great one as one of the top assistants in the land finally leaves Clemson and can get some of the talent back to this program.
No 14. Clemson (9-3) (6-2 ACC)
We’ve discussed it in other rankings but the turnaround Clemson has put on their season has been great. The committee does not have the Tigers this high but it’s a position they’ve earned. Clemson has one more chance to prove themselves in one of the more underrated bowl games n the schedule which is the Cheez-It Bowl against Iowa State.
No 15. Oregon (10-3) (7-2 PAC 12)
Oregon was just straight-up terrible in their loss to Utah. They’ll match up with Oklahoma in their bowl game in a game of two teams who presumably will have new head coaches next season. We’ve talked about Oklahoma already but it seems Oregon head coach is headed out to Miami for a very hefty sum. This should allow other teams to take the crown in the PAC 12, especially current king Utah and the riser USC.
No 16. BYU (10-2)
The three teams ahead of BYU from our rankings last week got blown out in their conference championship games, thus the Cougars move up to 16. They didn’t need to do much but their play this season does place them in the Independence Bowl against UAB. This one could be a thriller as both teams pack sparkplug offenses that can make the game a fiery one instantly.
No 17. Wake Forest (10-3) (7-1 ACC)
Wake Forest hung with Pittsburgh for a little bit in the ACC Championship game. They had the 21-14 lead at the end of the first quarter but Pitt then scored 31 straight and did not look back. The Demon Deacons are still better than every team behind them and they have gotten a nice bowl game against Texas A&M to stamp their historic season, one that can change the program.
No 18. Louisiana (12-1) (8-0 Sun Belt)
This has been one of the most underrated seasons in the country. Louisiana hasn’t lost since Week 1 at Texas (when the Longhorns were presumably good) and has just rolled through the Sun Belt. Appalachian State was the best team they’ve played all year and the Ragin’ Cajuns handled them twice. This now puts them in the Louisiana Bowl against Marshall in what should practically be a home game and one they should win.
No 19. Texas A&M (8-4) (4-4 SEC)
The Iowa and Houston losses see Texas A&M moving up one spot in the rankings. They still have that big win over now number one Alabama on their docket which is probably the only reason they aren’t ranked in the 23-25 range. Texas A&M will take on Wake Forest in what should be a really fun game between a top defense matching up with Wake Forest’s great offense.
No 20. NC State (9-3) (6-2 ACC)
NC State is another team that had a very underrated season. The Wolfpack went 9-3 and had a strong shot at heading to the ACC Championship, instead they lost a heart breaker to Wake Forest earlier in the year. This is still a team that has a lot to prove for next year, especially with some of the young core they have. NC State will play a solid 8-4 UCLA team in the Holiday Bowl in a game that should be pretty close and some fun TV to watch.
No 21. Kentucky (9-3) (5-3 SEC)
Kentucky comes into bowl season with some strong momentum after beating Louisville in rivalry week. If you are a fan of defense, tune into Kentucky’s bowl game on January 1st. Here, you’ll see the Wildcats take on an Iowa team that is quite frankly awful. The Hawkeyes just got blown out to Michigan and have shown they aren’t even a top 25 team with the offense they have and one-dimensional defense we’ve seen. Kentucky should be able to take care of business and claim a Citrus Bowl victory.
No 22. Houston (11-2) (8-0 American)
The American Conference Championship game did not go as planned for Houston on Saturday. The team hadn’t lost since Week 1 but got shelled by a now playoff team. Houston’s season obviously will not come to an end now. They will head to their bowl game against a projected unranked power 5 team. This should be a pretty easy win for the Cougars, especially if their offense gets rolling off the bat and it’ll be a nice finish to the year.
No 23. Arkansas (8-4) (4-4 SEC)
Arkansas and Texas A&M had very similar seasons. The Razorbacks actually defeated the Aggies this year. But both programs have had ups and downs and have faced the gauntlet that is the SEC. Arkansas also got a pretty respectable bowl game in the Outback bowl. They’ll face a Penn State team that could see some opt-outs and consistent offensive troubles.
No 24. Minnesota (8-4) (6-3 Big 10)
Coming off their rivalry win against Wisconsin, Minnesota remains ranked for the first time this season. The next time we’ll see Minnesota is in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. That will be against one of the streakiest teams in the country in West Virginia. We’ll see how close this one really is. We’d say expect a Gopher blowout but you never know with either of these squads.
No 25. UTSA (11-1) (7-1 CUSA)
A week after their perfect, Cinderella season was ended, the Roadrunners bounced back and defeated Western Kentucky in the Conference USA championship game. This one was a shootout that saw UTSA winning 49-41 even though they let up 500 plus passing yards to Bailey Zappe and crew. UTSA now moves to the Frisco Bowl against San Diego State in a battle of two highly regarded mid-major programs.
Outside looking in: Utah State, Iowa, San Diego State, Wisconsin, Purdue
Dropped out: Iowa, San Diego State
New teams: Louisiana (18), UTSA (25)
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