Ohio State leaps past Alabama in JV's Week 13 Top 25 NCAAF rankings
With just two weeks remaining until the College Football Playoff field is set, another wild weekend shook up the College Football Playoff rankings.
Oregon sat at no. 3 in last week's College Football Playoff rankings (and no. 4 in my rankings), but a bad loss at Utah over the weekend all but sunk the Ducks' playoff hopes. Michigan State entered the weekend as the committee's no. 7 team (as well as my no. 7 team), only to get steamrolled in Columbus, 56-7. The game was over at half, when the Buckeyes led 49-0, and coach Ryan Day let the team's second stringers see action in the second half. With losses to two top-7 teams, the playoff field has become clearer. It will become even clearer after storied rivals Michigan and Ohio State square off in Ann Arbor this weekend, with a Big Ten East division title on the line.
At this time, there are three undefeated teams remaining, and six one-loss teams with realistic paths to the College Football Playoff left. One of the three unbeatens is UTSA (11-0), the likely Conference USA champion whose strength of schedule is in the bottom-third of the sport. Though I'd love to see the Roadrunners get a chance to play in a New Years 6 bowl, they don't have the resume that would justify a playoff berth in the current model of the College Football Playoff (which is why we need playoff expansion!). The other two unbeatens, Georgia and Cincinnati have a real shot at the playoff. The last remaining one-loss teams that will get CFP consideration are Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. There's a solid string of three one-loss group of five teams (Houston, Louisiana and San Diego State) that I value as top-20 teams, but unrealistic playoff contenders.
After the Michigan-Ohio State game this coming weekend, there will be just one, one-loss Big Ten team remaining. Assuming that Georgia (@ Georgia Tech) and Alabama (@ Auburn) both win this week, they'll square off in the SEC championship game the following week, and after, there will be either two one-loss SEC teams, or an unbeaten Georgia team and a two-loss Alabama team. Four of the top five teams will play each other, with blows being delivered to two of those teams. The two that survive will go to the College Football Playoff (as long as the winner of Michigan-Ohio State wins the Big Ten championship game the following week). That would leave two spots up for grabs.
No. 6 Notre Dame plays Stanford this weekend, and will likely improve to 11-1. As an FBS independent, they won't play another game before the committee makes its picks on Selection Sunday. The Irish will patiently sit at home and watch. The Irish's sole loss came at home vs. Cincinnati. Even if Cincinnati loses one of its final two games (Eastern Carolina and Houston), the Bearcats win on the road in South Bend should keep them above Notre Dame in the playoff hierarchy. The committee might not see it the same way, but the head-to-head games should matter. Elevating a one-loss Notre Dame team above a one-loss Cincinnati team would be devaluing games that are supposed to be important.
No. 7 Oklahoma State has already punched its ticket to the Big 12 title game in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys play 10-1 Oklahoma at home in Stillwater this week, and depending on how things shake out, could play them again the following week, or play Baylor for the second time this season. If the Cowboys win out and take down no. 10 Oklahoma and no. 8 Baylor on consecutive weeks, their playoff case will improve significantly. I would probably have them in.
In order for Oklahoma to win the Big 12 championship, the Sooners will need to win on the road this week, and then beat the Cowboys again a week later. In either of these scenarios, the two teams from the great state of Oklahoma have an opportunity to greatly improve their resumes. I would value a one-loss Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, Big 12 champion team over an 11-1 Notre Dame squad.
If Oklahoma loses this week and Baylor wins the Big 12, things would have to get crazy in order for me to send a two-loss Big 12 team to the final four. If the winner of Michigan-Ohio State loses in the Big Ten championship, does the Big Ten get a playoff team? If so, which one? If, hypothetically, Ohio State and Michigan each drop another game and Oregon wins out (and wins the Pac-12), I'd value Oregon over Ohio State, as the Ducks won the head-to-head matchup on the road. Alabama could lose to either Auburn or Georgia, and become a two-loss team. Cincinnati could lose to Houston in the AAC title game. With just two weeks remaining, chaos is very much in play.
After their statement win over Michigan State, I finally moved Ohio State up to no. 3, above Alabama. Oregon's loss helps Ohio State, too. When both Oregon and Ohio State had one-loss, I had to favor Oregon above Ohio State, even though Oregon conference wins haven't been nearly as impressive as Alabama's. Thus, I couldn't put Oregon above Alabama, and I couldn't put Ohio State above Oregon.
Some aren't going to like that I still have Cincinnati above Ohio State. Relax. It really doesn't matter. If Ohio State blows the doors off of Michigan and Wisconsin over the next two weeks and Cincy plays close with its opponents, Ohio State will probably be above Cincy at season's end. I'm still preferring the unbeatens, but I anticipate myself ranking the SEC and Big Ten champions as the no. 1 and no. 2 seeds two weeks from now.
The hardest part of this week's rankings was figuring out where to put the strongest two-loss teams in relativity to undefeated UTSA and one-loss Houston, Louisiana and San Diego State. San Diego State is the best one-loss group of five team. The Aztecs have racked up a lot of wins in an underrated Mountain West conference. They also beat Utah, who beat Oregon. I put UTSA at no. 10. I could change my mind on that next week. They're a team that could justifiably be anywhere between no. 8 and no. 25, which is why I hope they get an awesome bowl game versus a strong power five team. I like mystery teams. We never can really tell if they're a 2006 Boise State, a 2010 TCU, OR a 2011 Northern Illinois. Let's throw the Roadrunners in a New Years 6 bowl and find out.
Louisiana still isn't ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings, but the Ragin Cajuns are continuing to impress me. Last week they were road dogs at Liberty. They handed the Flames a 42-14 butt-whooping.
Liberty quarterback Malik Willis' name has come up in the first round of several mock drafts. I'm not really buying the hype. On Saturday, he completed just 40% of his passes, threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times. A week earlier, he threw three picks and was sacked nine times vs. Ole Miss' defense. These were the two most important games of Willis' season in the eye of scouts and the two best defenses he's seen all year. I expect to see Willis dropping in mocks very soon. He could bring himself back up depending on how he finishes the year and performs at the combine, but yikes, 2022 is not looking like the type of year where you would want to invest in a rookie quarterback.
Only one team dropped from last week's rankings last week, Utah State, who got blown out at home by Wyoming. Clemson rose back into the top 25 in what feels like an eternity. Their 21-point victory over Wake Forest put them above the Demon Deacons, who dropped ten spots in my rankings.
Before getting to Jack's Top 25 Rankings for week 13, here's a look at how the College Football Playoff committee and the Associated Press voted this week, courtesy of ESPN:
Jack's Top 25 Rankings for Week 13
#1 Georgia (11-0) — Week 12: W, 56-7 vs. Charleston Southern (4-6). Week 13: @ Georgia Tech (3-8)
#2 Cincinnati (11-0) — Week 12: W, 48-14 vs. SMU (8-3). Week 13: @ East Carolina (7-4)
#3 Ohio State (10-1) — Week 12: W, 56-7 vs. Michigan State (9-2). Week 13: @ #5 Michigan (10-1)
#4 Alabama (10-1) — Week 12: W, 42-35 vs. Arkansas (7-4). Week 13: @ Auburn (6-5)
#5 Michigan (10-1) — Week 12: W, 59-18 @ Maryland (5-6). Week 13: vs. #3 Ohio State (10-1)
#6 Oklahoma State (10-1) — Week 12: W, 23-0 @ Texas Tech (6-5). Week 13: vs. Oklahoma (10-1)
#7 Notre Dame (10-1) — Week 12: W, 55-0 vs. Georgia Tech (3-8). Week 13: @ Stanford (3-8)
#8 Oregon (9-2) — Week 12: L, 38-7 @ Utah (8-3). Week 13: vs. Oregon State (7-4)
#9 Ole Miss (9-2) — Week 12: W, 31-17 vs. Vanderbilt (2-9). Week 13: @ Mississippi State (7-4)
#10 UTSA (11-0) — Week 12: W, 34-31 vs. UAB (7-4). Week 13: @ North Texas (5-6)
#11 Michigan State (9-2) — Week 12: L, 56-7 @ Ohio State (10-1). Week 13: vs. Penn State (7-4)
#12 Baylor (9-2) — Week 12: W, 20-10 @ Kansas State (7-4). Week 13: vs. Texas Tech (6-5)
#13 Oklahoma (10-1) — Week 12: W, 28-21 vs. Iowa State (6-5). Week 13: @ #6 Oklahoma State (10-1)
#14 San Diego State (10-1) — Week 12: W, 28-20 @ UNLV (2-9). Week 13: vs. Boise State (7-4)
#15 BYU (9-2) — Week 12: W, 34-17 @ Georgia Southern (3-8). Week 13: @ USC (4-6)
#16 Houston (10-1) — Week 12: W, 31-13 vs. Memphis (5-6). Week 13: @ UCONN (1-10)
#17 Louisiana (10-1) — Week 12: W, 42-14 @ Liberty (7-4). Week 13: vs. UL-Monroe (4-7)
#18 Texas A&M (8-3) — Week 12: W, 52-3 vs. Prairie View A&M (7-3). Week 13: @ LSU (5-6)
#19 Utah (8-3) — Week 12: W, 38-7 vs. Oregon (9-2). Week 13: vs. Colorado (4-7)
#20 Wisconsin (8-3) — Week 12: W, 35-28 vs. Nebraska (3-8). Week 13: @ Minnesota (7-4)
#21 Iowa (9-2) — Week 12: W, 33-23 vs. Illinois (4-7). Week 13: @ Nebraska (3-8)
#22 Pittsburgh (9-2) — Week 12: W, 48-38 vs. Virginia (6-5). Week 13: @ Syracuse (5-6)
#23 Appalachian State (9-2) — Week 12: W, 45-7 @ Troy (5-6). Week 13: vs. Georgia Southern (3-6)
#24 Clemson (8-3) — Week 12: W, 48-27 vs. Wake Forest. Week 13: @ South Carolina (6-5)
#25 Wake Forest (9-2) — Week 12: L, 48-27 @ Clemson. Week 13: @ Boston College (6-5)
Dropped from last week's rankings: #24 Utah State (8-3)
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(Image via Jay LaPrete/Dayton News)