Committee Surprises Many in Initial College Football Playoff Rankings

Story posted November 3, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

The most exciting part of the college football season starts when the initial College Football Playoff rankings are announced. Those initial rankings were released this week, which sent out a bit of a shock to the nation.

The team topping the initial rankings is the Alabama Crimson Tide, who have been the most dominant team in the country this year. Nick Saban’s most recent team has thrashed almost all of its opponents and will look to continue that trend in Death Valley against the rival LSU Tigers.

The rest of the teams that made the four-team playoff were a bit of a surprise as the committee placed Clemson higher than Michigan. The main reason the committee did this was because the Tigers had a better strength of schedule, but that does not really justify putting them higher than Michigan.

The Wolverines have been almost as dominant as the Crimson Tide, winning almost every game by double digits and effectively proving that they are a force to be reckoned with in college football. Michigan also boast three wins against teams in the top 15 in the College Football Playoff, which is one more than Clemson has.

The Tigers edge in strength of schedule is based upon their victory over Louisville. That victory is one of the top victories in the nation and only Alabama and Penn State have better victories under their belt this season.

The biggest controversy of the initial rankings was the team that occupied the fourth-and-final spot in the playoffs. Texas A&M was given the fourth spot and Washington was awarded the fifth. Placing a one-loss SEC team over an undefeated Pac-12 team shows the committee may have some bias towards the SEC.

The committee placed the Aggies ahead of the Huskies because they have a better strength of schedule. The SEC is a tougher conference to play in than the Pac-12, but the conference a team plays in should not be the reason they are ranked higher than someone.

Texas A&M does have a better win on their resume than Washington as the Aggies beat Auburn early in the season, while last week’s win against Utah is the best Huskies’ win thus far. The main problem with this selection is the committee is choosing an at-large SEC team over an undefeated, conference champion from the Pac-12.

The biggest surprise in the initial rankings was probably the placement of the Penn State Nittany Lions at number 12. Penn State has only played two teams in the initial rankings, but both of those are in the top 6 and boast a 1-1 record against those teams.

Also, Penn State has one of the best strength of schedules in the nation with every team except Kent State compiling at least five wins this season. The initial position for the Nittany Lions puts them in prime position to finish the season in the top 10 if they are able to win out.


Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email