The first College Football Playoff rankings were released this week and there were some surprises that indicate the selection committee is taking a closer look at the overall strength of schedule than ever before.
Oklahoma, which is ranked 4th in the AP poll, came in at 8th in the first CFP Rankings, while Cincinnati who is 2nd in the AP, is sitting in the 6th spot. With 8 teams competing for 4 spots, the remaining few games on the schedule are critical and teams must not only win but win in style down the stretch.
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One of the top storylines in week 10 is Hugh Freeze’s return back to Oxford to face his old Ole Miss squad. Freeze was infamously fired in 2017 amidst an NCAA investigation into the program and will likely have plenty of motivation and an aggressive game plan to pull off the upset over Ole Miss.
Wake Forest was ranked 9th in the most recent CFP playoff rankings and has an outside chance of making the playoffs if they win out. The ACC is facing a down year and doesn’t get the same respect that it normally does when Clemson is at the top of the polls. A perfect example of how bad the ACC is perceived is the fact that Wake Forest is an underdog to a 4-4 North Carolina team in a matchup that should clearly win based on their record.
The Spartans come off of an epic win vs. Michigan last week and went on the road against a scrappy Purdue squad that has been in most of their games this year. The oddsmakers think this will be a close game as Michigan St. is only favored by 3 despite being ranked 3rd in the most recent CFP rankings. The Spartans Kenneth Walker III had five touchdowns in last week’s 37-33 win over Michigan is in the thick of the Heisman discussion. If Michigan St. finishes out the season 12-0 or 11-1 Walker III has a great chance to bring the first ever Heisman trophy back to East Lansing.
The Buckeyes head to Nebraska riding momentum before a tough couple of downs at the end of the season vs. Michigan State at home and on the road at Michigan. The Buckeyes are in a great position to control their own destiny and could be a serious threat in the CFP should they make it. Ohio State QB CJ Stroud is third in the Heisman odds and will have plenty of opportunities to help his odds in the next 3-4 weeks with nationally televised games.
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The first CFP rankings were released on Tuesday night and it looks like the final four will come from 1 of the 8 teams above. The selection committee is putting more emphasis on strength of schedule than prior years as evidenced by Cincinnati being in the 6th spot and Oklahoma sitting at 8.
Cincinnati does not have anyone else on their schedule that would qualify as an impressive win so they will need quite a bit of chaos in the next few weeks to slide into the top 4. Oklahoma has a tough game with Baylor this weekend and finishes up with games against Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and a Big 12 title game so if they can finish the season undefeated they have a great chance to slide into the 4th spot.
With the emphasis on strength of schedule, we could be in a situation where the SEC and BIg 10 both get two teams into the College Football Playoffs. If Alabama can beat Georgia in the SEC title game, Georgia would still likely get into the playoffs in addition to Alabama. If Michigan State drops only one game to Ohio State on the road you could have a 12-1 Ohio State and an 11-1 Michigan State fill the other two spots.