With just two weeks until “Selection Sunday,” the latest College Football Playoff rankings have been released. How did the CFP Selection Committee view some close-fought wins? And was there any movement in the final four of the CFP rankings?
College Football Playoff Rankings
For every team in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, you’ll find a series of stats. Those include their rankings by multiple outlets — including Pro Football Network’s College Football Top 25 — following Week 12 of the college season.
SOS stands for strength of schedule and is from sports-reference.com. It attempts to quantify how easy a team’s schedule has been (the higher the number, the harder the schedule).
1) Georgia Bulldogs
AP Poll: 1st | Coaches Poll: 1st | PFN Ranking: 1st | Record: 11-0 | Offensive Rank: 11/131 | Defensive Rank: 1/131 | Points scored: 422 (38.4 PPG) | Points allowed: 122 (11.1 PAPG) | SOS: 4.20 (24/131)
The Georgia Bulldogs remain as the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings after going unbeaten in the SEC for the second consecutive season.
With all of the top four teams laboring to victories in college football Week 12, there was little chance of anyone overtaking the Bulldogs — and so it turned out to be the case when the CFP rankings were revealed.
Although their offense struggled to punch it in the end zone more than once against Kentucky, you always get the feeling they’ll have just enough to overcome any opponent. Meanwhile, the defense remains the standard bearer in college football. It’s a combination that’s proving impossible to top.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes
AP Poll: 2nd | Coaches Poll: 2nd | PFN Ranking: 2nd | Record: 11-0 | Offensive Rank: 2/131 | Defensive Rank: 10/131 | Points scored: 511 (46.5 PPG) | Points allowed: 186 (16.9 PAPG) | SOS: 2.20 (50/131)
Another non-mover, the Ohio State Buckeyes stay rooted to the second spot in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Like several of the teams near the top of the CFP rankings, the Buckeyes escaped a sticky situation against Maryland to remain as the odds-on favorite to represent the Big Ten in the “final four.”
A defense that ranks 10th in the nation (and unrecognizable from the liability of last season) helped Ohio State over the finish line against the Terps, while bolstering their résumé as a playoff candidate. The CFP Committee has repeatedly praised the Buckeyes’ balance, and the defensive unit certainly forms part of their all-round dangerousness.
However, there’s also a significant element of offensive balance. While some teams have a reliance on the passing attack or ground game, the Buckeyes can effortlessly transition from throwing on a team with C.J. Stroud or — like in the Maryland game — they can put the ball in the hands of their running back stable and let them bolt away from the opposition.
With Notre Dame advancing up the CFP rankings, Ohio State’s strength of schedule and offensive potency keeps them above the Wolverines in the College Football Playoff rankings. However, they face a playoff of sorts against their hated rivalry this weekend that will determine which Big Ten squad has the best chance of making the “final four.”
3) Michigan Wolverines
AP Poll: 3rd | Coaches Poll: 3rd | PFN Ranking: 3rd | Record: 11-0 | Offensive Rank: 9/131 | Defensive Rank: 2/131 | Points scored: 433 (39.4 PPG) | Points allowed: 129 (11.7 PAPG) | SOS: -0.49 (71/131)
For the longest part of Saturday afternoon, Michigan looked like they were in trouble. A loss to Illinois would have been devastating to their hopes of reaching the CFP. Even with Jake Moody’s game-winning field goal, there was still the potential for them to slide back down to the fifth place where they resided following the initial College Football Playoff rankings.
Despite those concerns, the Wolverines stay safe in the top four for another week. Results around them — with TCU scraping past Baylor and Tennessee losing to South Carolina — mean there wasn’t a team with a gaudy week-to-week résumé improvement to leap over them.
Michigan’s No. 10-ranked offense and No. 2-ranked scoring defense showcases the balance that the CFP Selection Committee has valued this year and likely plays a high role in them remaining third in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
However, their poor strength of schedule means that they have to beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten title to stand any chance of advancing to the final four.
4) TCU Horned Frogs
AP Poll: 4th | Coaches Poll: 4th | PFN Ranking: 4th | Record: 11-0 | Offensive Rank: 8/131 | Defensive Rank: 59/131 | Points scored: 434 (39.5 PPG) | Points allowed: 280 (25.5 PAPG) | SOS: 5.64 (13/131)
A Griffin Kell field goal kept the TCU Horned Frogs alive in the College Football Playoff rankings on a weekend where multiple teams simply hung on to their spot rather than proved that they earned them. You could argue that Sonny Dykes’ gutsy play-calling late in their win over Baylor is the epitome of earning respect.
However, they CFP Selection Committee has already voiced their concern over the TCU defense and their reliance of winning by coming from behind. The Horned Frogs very much need to keep their eyes in the rearview mirror for enemies advancing from behind at the moment.
5) LSU Tigers
AP Poll: 6th | Coaches Poll: 6th | PFN Ranking: 6th | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 34/131 | Defensive Rank: 25/131 | Points scored: 367 (33.4 PPG) | Points allowed: 220 (20.0 PAPG) | SOS: 5.14 (18/131)
After their convincing win over UAB, the LSU Tigers remain within touching distance of the “final four” following the release of the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Brian Kelly’s team are the ultimate wild card ahead of “Selection Sunday.” Their two losses are a major stumbling block to their selection to the CFP. However, by keeping them above one-loss Clemson, the CFP Committee is essentially saying that a potential two-loss SEC champion holds more muster than a champion from any other conference. Something to watch out for.
6) USC Trojans
AP Poll: 5th | Coaches Poll: 5th | PFN Ranking: 5th | Record: 10-1 | Offensive Rank: 3/131 | Defensive Rank: 68/131 | Points scored: 470 (42.7 PPG) | Points allowed: 289 (26.3 PAPG) | SOS: 1.36 (57/131)
We’re two games away from crowning a Pac-12 champion. Is a team from the conference really going to go all the way without cannibalizing their chances and force the CFP Selection Committee to make a decision about a one-loss conference champion not from the SEC making it into the final four?! USC’s win over UCLA has moved them up to sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings.
We know there can only be a maximum of three undefeated teams come “Selection Sunday” so which one (or two) loss team will make the the CFP? USC has a better offense than Michigan and TCU, a tougher strength of schedule than Michigan, but a worse defense than the Wolverines and less competitive SOS than TCU. This could get very interesting in a little over a week’s time, especially with their ranking behind LSU this week.
7) Alabama Crimson Tide
AP Poll: 8th | Coaches Poll: 7th | PFN Ranking: 7th | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 5/131 | Defensive Rank: 11/131 | Points scored: 440 (40.0 PPG) | Points allowed: 189 (17.2 PAPG) | SOS: 4.14 (25/131)
8) Clemson Tigers
AP Poll: 7th | Coaches Poll: 8th | PFN Ranking: 8th | Record: 10-1 | Offensive Rank: 28/131 | Defensive Rank: 24/131 | Points scored: 382 (34.7 PPG) | Points allowed: 220 (20.0 PAPG) | SOS: 2.58 (45/131)
9) Oregon Ducks
AP Poll: 10th | Coaches Poll: 9th | PFN Ranking: 11th | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 4/131 | Defensive Rank: 70/131 | Points scored: 442 (40.2 PPG) | Points allowed: 291 (26.5 PAPG) | SOS: 3.10 (40/131)
10) Tennessee Volunteers
AP Poll: 9th | Coaches Poll: 11th | PFN Ranking: 9th | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 1/131 | Defensive Rank: 61/131 | Points scored: 512 (46.5 PPG) | Points allowed: 282 (25.6 PAPG) | SOS: 4.31 (23/131)
11) Penn State Nittany Lions
AP Poll: 11th | Coaches Poll: 10th | PFN Ranking: 12th | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 19/131 | Defensive Rank: 14/131 | Points scored: 395 (35.9 PPG) | Points allowed: 200 (18.2 PAPG) | SOS: 3.54 (36/131)
12) Kansas State Wildcats
AP Poll: 15th | Coaches Poll: 13th | PFN Ranking: 16th | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 38/131 | Defensive Rank: 15/131 | Points scored: 354 (32.2 PPG) | Points allowed: 206 (18.7 PAPG) | SOS: 7.62 (4/131)
13) Washington Huskies
AP Poll: 12th | Coaches Poll: 12th | PFN Ranking: 10th | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 7/131 | Defensive Rank: 62/131 | Points scored: 438 (39.8 PPG) | Points allowed: 283 (25.7 PAPG) | SOS: -0.77 (72/131)
14) Utah Utes
AP Poll: 14th | Coaches Poll: 14th | PFN Ranking: 18th | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 16/131 | Defensive Rank: 26/131 | Points scored: 410 (37.3 PPG) | Points allowed: 220 (20.0 PAPG) | SOS: 3.36 (39/131)
15) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
AP Poll: 13th | Coaches Poll: 15th | PFN Ranking: 14th | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 51/131 | Defensive Rank: 27/131 | Points scored: 341 (31.0 PPG) | Points allowed: 223 (20.3 PAPG) | SOS: 3.91 (30/131)
16) Florida State Seminoles
AP Poll: 16th | Coaches Poll: 16th | PFN Ranking: 15th | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 23/131 | Defensive Rank: 13/131 | Points scored: 389 (35.4 PPG) | Points allowed: 198 (18.0 PPG) | SOS: 3.82 (32/131)
17) North Carolina Tar Heels
AP Poll: 18th | Coaches Poll: 17th | PFN Ranking: 13th | Record: 9-1 | Offensive Rank: 13/131 | Defensive Rank: 105/131 | Points scored: 418 (38.0 PPG) | Points allowed: 334 (30.4 PAPG) | SOS: 0.17 (68/131)
18) UCLA Bruins
AP Poll: 17th | Coaches Poll: 18th | PFN Ranking: 17th | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 6/131 | Defensive Rank: 90/131 | Points scored: 440 (40.0 PPG) | Points allowed: 312 (28.4 PAPG) | SOS: 1.13 (60/131)
19) Tulane Green Wave
AP Poll: 19th | Coaches Poll: 20th | PFN Ranking: 22nd | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 26/131 | Defensive Rank: 18/131 | Points scored: 386 (35.1 PPG) | Points allowed: 214 (19.5 PAPG) | SOS: -0.82 (74/131)
20) Ole Miss Rebels
AP Poll: 20th | Coaches Poll: 19th | PFN Ranking: 19th | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 24/131 | Defensive Rank: 47/131 | Points scored: 388 (35.3 PPG) | Points allowed: 266 (24.2 PAPG) | SOS: 2.78 (42/131)
21) Oregon State Beavers
AP Poll: 22nd | Coaches Poll: 22nd | PFN Ranking: 24th | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 41/131 | Defensive Rank: 28/131 | Points scored: 351 (31.9 PPG) | Points allowed: 223 (20.3 PAPG) | SOS: 1.14 (59 /131)
22) UCF Golden Knights
AP Poll: 25th | Coaches Poll: N/A | PFN Ranking: N/A | Record: 8-3 | Offensive Rank: 30/131 | Defensive Rank: 21/131 | Points scored: 373 (33.9 PPG) | Points allowed: 217 (19.7 PAPG) | SOS: 0.81 (65/131)
23) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
AP Poll: 23rd | Coaches Poll: 23rd | PFN Ranking: 20th | Record: 9-1 | Offensive Rank: 45/131 | Defensive Rank: 74/131 | Points scored: 316 (31.6 PPG) | Points allowed: 269 (26.9 PAPG)| SOS: -4.26 (100/131)
24) Texas Longhorns
AP Poll: 24th | Coaches Poll: 24th | PFN Ranking: N/A | Record: 7-4 | Offensive Rank: 22/131 | Defensive Rank: 30/131 | Points scored: 390 (35.5 PPG) | Points allowed: 227 (20.6 PAPG)| SOS: 9.45 (1/131)
24) Cincinnati Bearcats
AP Poll: 21st | Coaches Poll: 21st | PFN Ranking: 25th | Record: 9-2 | Offensive Rank: 42/131 | Defensive Rank: 22/131 | Points scored: 349 (31.7 PPG)| Points allowed: 217 (19.7 PAPG)| SOS: -2.54 (85/131)
25) Louisville Cardinals
AP Poll: N/A | Coaches Poll: N/A | PFN Ranking: N/A | Record: 7-4 | Offensive Rank: 67/131 | Defensive Rank: 20/131 | Points scored: 313 (28.5 PPG) | Points allowed: 216 (19.6 PAPG) | SOS: 5.36 (16/131)