Opinion: College Football rankings kick off the playoff hunt

Jack+Kopanski

Jack Kopanski

Jack Kopanski

In the fourth iteration of the NCAA’s college football playoff system, this year’s initial rankings, released Tuesday night, were perhaps the best example of why people were calling for this ranking system for years.

The top-ranked team in the AP poll was pushed to second by a team in their own conference, seven one-loss teams and one two-loss team are in the Top-10.

While undefeated Alabama is always going to be a powerhouse, the committee appropriately took into account strength of schedule when putting Georgia at No. 1. Assuming this result holds the rest of the season, No. 1 will be up for grabs in the SEC title game at the end of the year.

Where the first surprise comes in is having Notre Dame at third. The Irish have had some impressive showings, and junior running back Josh Adams has forced himself into Heisman contention in recent games. They are also able to hold their heads high when talking about their one loss, coming at the hands of the new No. 1, Georgia.

Clemson rounds out the early playoff picture with a less-forgiving loss to Syracuse, though the Tigers have dominated the rest of their games with three wins against Top-25 opponents. I anticipate the Tigers sticking around the national championship conversation to the bitter end.

Now, perhaps the most heated debate surrounding this first ranking: The placement of Ohio State and Oklahoma. The Sooners come in at No. 5 with the Buckeyes right behind them.

I like this positioning and think the committee handled it perfectly.

Oklahoma plays in a much tougher conference (Big 12) than Ohio State (Big 10). Oklahoma’s schedule, while not full of juggernauts, still comes in exponentially stronger than the Buckeyes’.

Up until they beat Penn State this past weekend, OSU’s best win was against Army.

Ohio State’s remaining schedule is much softer than Oklahoma’s. While this wouldn’t give the Sooners the liberty to drop another game, it could very well be the deciding factor if each of these teams wins their conference with one loss and is knocking on the door of the playoff.

The rest of the Top-10 will undoubtedly prove just as dangerous, with Penn State, TCU, Wisconsin and the University of Miami ranking 7-10.

I am slightly surprised Penn State took a five-spot tumble, but it is early enough that should a top-five team or two fall, they could fight right back into consideration.

With TCU taking their first loss against an Iowa State team that seems to be causing many in the Big-12 trouble, it could prove difficult for the Horned Frogs to get back into serious playoff contention, especially with Oklahoma in their way in two weeks.

Wisconsin and Miami have both been having phenomenal seasons out of the starting gate, and stand as two of five undefeated teams in the Top-25. With Wisconsin’s weak schedule and two marquee matchups on the horizon for Miami, however, the odds of these teams making the College Football Playoffs looks bleak.

All in all, while there are still four regular season games before conference champions are decided, I commend the committee for their initial rankings.

Let the real games begin.

Jack Kopanski is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]