It’s College Football Rankings playoff time, or as the rest of the nation and possibly Donald Trump would say, “It’s rigged for the SEC.”
Because Texas A&M is No. 4 over unbeaten Washington. (Really?)
Because a two-loss Auburn team is sitting in striking distances at No. 9. (Really?)
The first official playoff rankings were released Tuesday night. As expected Alabama (8-0) was ranked No. 1. From there, everybody drove down the mountain approximately 3,000 feet in elevation before getting to No. 2 Clemson (8-0), No. 3 Michigan (8-0) and No. 4 Texas A&M (7-1).
The Peach Bowl hosts a playoff semifinal this season in the Georgia Dome. If the playoffs opened today, that game would match two SEC West teams: Alabama vs. Texas A&M. The Aggies (whose only loss came to Alabama) were ranked ahead of unbeaten Washington (8-0), the likely Pac-12 champion. So you can imagine how this is going over in the Pacific time zone.
(UPDATE: If the playoffs opened today, Alabama would be favored by 13½ points over Texas A&M and at least a touchdown over any other playoff team, according to Pregame.com)
Wait, it gets even better. There’s a general consensus that if the Huskies win out and win the conference title game, they somehow will crack the top four. But if Clemson and Michigan also win out and stay unbeaten, they’re locks, right? Meanwhile, Washington has only one ranked opponent left in the regular season (No. 25 Washington State). It’s likely Pac-12 conference title opponents will be No. 15 Colorado or No. 16 Utah.
So imagine this: Texas A&M sweeps its final four games (at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas-San Antonio and No. 13 LSU). How could the playoff rankings committee justify jumping Washington over the Aggies?
Here’s another scenario: No. 9 Auburn beats Alabama in the regular season finale but there’s a three-way-tie between Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M at 7-1. Auburn will have beaten Alabama; Alabama will have beaten Texas A&M; Texas A&M will have beaten Auburn. I don’t want to get into all of the tiebreaker scenariors but would the committee consider two of those teams playoff worthy or only if one of them goes on to win the conference title?
It seems less likely that any other conference could get two teams into the playoffs. In the Big Ten, Michigan may not have a strong enough strength of schedule to withstand potentially losing to Ohio State and remaining in the top four. No. 8 Wisconsin already has lost to both and doesn’t have a ranked opponent left.
In the ACC, No. 2 Clemson is followed by No. 7 Louisville but the Cardinals have already lost that matchup and has four weak opponents remaining (Boston College, Wake Forest, Houston, Kentucky). The ACC had better hope Clemson doesn’t get upset somewhere along the way or in the ACC championship game by North Carolina or Virginia Tech because otherwise the conference may be left without an entry in the playoffs (unless there are other upsets).
In the Big 12 … well, never mind. It’s clear nobody cares about the Big 12.
So the SEC is sitting in a pretty nice position today. It would seem not much has changed.
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