With half of the college football playoff selection committee’s top six teams losing over the weekend, a shake-up on Tuesday was inevitable. We have it. This wasn’t a free fall, but we did see a series of significant drops for Tennessee, Alabama and Clemson that could have long-term implications.
Let’s give a full rundown of what the committee did by breaking down the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The ranking of undefeated TCU at number four and losing Tennessee at number five is well deserved.
The Volunteers have some very good wins against No. 9 Alabama and No. 7 LSU on the road, and the selection committee gives them some tangible credit for also beating No. 24 Kentucky. But that loss to Georgia had to leave a mark, and it did. Selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan said on a conference call Tuesday that his group viewed both the Volunteers’ 14-point loss and Oregon’s 46-point loss to the No. 1 Bulldogs as lopsided, and they were they also.
Everyone on the committee saw Georgia 27, Tennessee 13. It wasn’t a close game.
By now, there was no more rhetoric about TCU being an incomplete team or needing to make comebacks to remain undefeated. Instead, an overall work was respected that includes victories over six teams with winning records. And the depth of the Big 12 must also carry some weight.
“There are no layups in the Big 12,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes told ESPN. He’s right now that Kansas isn’t a doormat.
Taking TCU up three spots from the top 25 for week one appears to be a market correction after a slight undervaluation of the Horned Frogs last week. They clearly have their own destiny in their hands now – if they win, they’re in the playoffs. Lose one and it gets interesting. They face what might be their biggest test of the season in Texas on Saturday, in No. 18.
The Atlantic Coast Conference sits in its weakest playoff position of the Power 5 conferences after Clemson plummeted from 4th to 10th and league members Wake Forest and Syracuse exited the top 25.
Aside from the Tigers, the only ACC teams this week are North Carolina (No. 15), North Carolina State (No. 16) and new signing Florida State (No. 23). Clemson has already played against Wolfpack and Seminoles and could face the Tar Heels in the ACC title game, but there aren’t many opportunities left to improve his position.
The rest of the Power 5 conferences have at least one team ahead of Clemson. The SEC has four ahead of the Tigers, with a chance all four could stay ahead of them in the future. The Pac-12 have two ahead (Oregon in sixth and USC in eighth) and two just behind (UCLA in 12th and Utah in 13th), and each of these teams has several opportunities to improve their resumes.
Clemson, who sits at No. 10 behind Alabama with two losses, reinforces what we all suspected after Saturday: There’s a strong chance there will be a playoff without either of them for the first time in its nine-year history.
The Crimson Tide have a good opportunity to improve their resume Saturday in Mississippi, which could be enough to send them past No. 8 USC, who plays Colorado. But USC has two superior opponents to end the regular season (No. 12 UCLA and No. 20 Notre Dame) compared to Bama, who ends against Austin Peay and the worst Auburn team in years. Unless LSU collapses and Alabama opens a backdoor to win the SEC West and upset Georgia in the league championship game, it stands to reason the tide is off.
Never discount the value of big brands. Exhibits A and B: Texas and Notre Dame.
The Longhorns (6-3) are the highest-ranked team with three losses at No. 18. The Fighting Irish (6-3) check in at No. 20. That’s despite both losing to unranked teams: Texas was beaten by Texas Tech and Oklahoma State; Notre Dame lost to a team that finished fourth in the Sun Belt East (Marshall) and to the last-placed team in the Pac-12 (Stanford).
But bad losses don’t seem to stick at Bluebloods. Which is at least consistent through much of college football’s history.
Texas clinched a win against a ranked team (at Kansas State Saturday) that allowed them to move up six places. Notre Dame has beaten at least two ranked teams in Clemson and North Carolina (another factor hurting the ACC’s overall standings).
Having these two in the top 20 at least helps future opponents. TCU has an opportunity to grab another quality win Saturday in Austin, and USC has an equal chance when they host Notre Dame on Nov. 26.
At least the committee didn’t put the Horns or the Irish ahead of 8-1 Tulane, who play No. 22 UCF on Saturday, in a game of huge importance not only in the American Athletic Conference but in the race for the New Group of 5-year Six-Bowl bid as well.
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