College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 11
Well, here we are. The first of five College Football Playoff rankings was released Tuesday night, and they will continue to be weekly until Dec. 3. Although the only rankings that truly matter are the ones that come out on the first Tuesday in December, it is still nice to know what the selection committee is thinking thus far in the season. Let’s break down the committee’s current top six teams.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Some will be surprised to see that the committee favored Ohio State over LSU this week, but those people shouldn’t be. Ohio State has been stomping teams every single game, with the most recent victory coming in the Buckeyes’ 38-7 thrashing of Wisconsin, in which they held the best running back in the country, Jonathan Taylor, to an average of 2.6 yards per carry.
When looking at their 20th-ranked strength of schedule, third-best strength of record, offensive average of 48 points per game, and defensive output of just below 8 points allowed per game, it’s hard to say that the Buckeyes aren’t the best team in the country right now. They also have three players who could be considered for the Heisman Trophy in Chase Young, Justin Fields, and J.K. Dobbins.
Next game: Nov. 9 vs. Maryland
2. LSU Tigers
There is a very strong argument that the Tigers should be the top-ranked team this week. With three wins over AP top-10 teams at the time they played, LSU the strongest strength of record by a wide margin. Convincing victories over Texas, Auburn and Florida show that this team is legit and will not fold over at the end of the season as it has in years past.
The thing that most likely separated LSU and Ohio State is the Buckeyes’ lockdown defense, though the Tigers defense is also right up there as one of the best. The Tigers could take the top spot next week if they beat Alabama on the road, but that is no guarantee. But with current Heisman favorite Joe Burrow under center, coach Ed Orgeron should like his team’s chances to stay in the top four for the time being.
Next game: Nov. 9 at No. 3 Alabama
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide have been just as dominant as the top two teams in the country, but what puts them at No. 3 is which teams those dominant wins have been against. Alabama’s biggest win came over a Texas A&M team that was ranked No. 24 at the time. The rest of the Crimson Tide’s schedule has been very easy, placing at 52nd in the SOS rankings. However, because of their dominance, they end up with the fourth-best strength of record.
The absence of star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will most likely end this week in preparation for the biggest game of the year so far. If the Tide can pull off a victory at home, they will make a solid case for either of the top two spots. A loss, however, could leave Alabama on the outside looking in, potentially for good.
Next game: Nov. 9 vs. No. 2 LSU
4. Penn State Nittany Lions
Now this is where it gets controversial. Penn State was selected to the fourth spot over the defending national champion Clemson, but the Nittany Lions deserve to be in the top four. Here’s why: The 8-0 squad comes in with the second-best strength of record and the 42nd strongest schedule, both of which rank higher than Alabama and Clemson. The Nittany Lions are also winning games by an average of over four touchdowns, and they’ve beaten multiple top-25 teams in Michigan and Iowa, with the Iowa victory coming on the road. With another impressive road win at Michigan State two weeks ago, it’s hard to say that the Nittany Lions aren’t one of the top four teams right now. With every game being their biggest since the Iowa game, they’ve lived up to the hype. The respect from the committee is there, and it should be from the rest of the nation.
Of course, Penn State’s No. 4 ranking will continue to hinge on how it performs from here on out. That starts with traveling to No. 17 Minnesota this weekend and pulling off another road victory over a ranked team. If the Nittany Lions can emerge victorious, they could move up to No. 3 with the loser of Alabama-LSU falling behind them. But a loss in Minneapolis might signal the end of Penn State’s playoff aspirations.
Next game: Nov. 9 at No. 17 Minnesota
5. Clemson Tigers
The defending national champions are on the outside looking in this week because their schedule is softer than the four teams in front. The Tigers’ lone ranked win, like Alabama, came against Texas A&M. Of course, no one can forget Clemson’s nerve-wracking 1-point victory over unranked North Carolina. Surely the committee hasn’t. With the 65th-ranked strength of record right now, it’s hard to argue putting in Clemson over a Penn State team that has done nothing but impress.
Next game: Nov. 9 at NC State
6. Georgia Bulldogs
Many have written off the Bulldogs after their shocking loss to South Carolina, but they still have a chance to make the College Football Playoff. They have the 28th-strongest schedule and are the favorites to win the SEC East. If Georgia can win out and beat the winner of LSU-Alabama in the SEC title game, the Bulldogs have a serious case to be included in the playoff.
Next game: Nov. 9 vs. Missouri
Danny Murray is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.