What do the CFB Rankings really mean?

By Phil Rodriguez

The College Football Playoff Committee released their rankings for Week 12 on Tuesday night, and, considering half of the top ten lost, the shakeup at the top didn’t really seem all that significant. Every team in the top four is a team that’s occupied one of those spots already this season, and no two-loss team could even crack the top six (not even Penn State, who have a win against Ohio State, the current number 2):

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan
  4. Clemson
  5. Louisville
  6. Washington
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Penn State
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Colorado


Everything wrong with these rankings:

I know this sounds crazy, but Louisville should be ranked above Clemson in my opinion, despite the fact that they lost to Clemson. Clemson lost at home to an inconsistent Pittsburgh squad, and was a lucky interception away from an overtime loss to lowly North Carolina State. Louisville, meanwhile, has only their loss to Clemson to discredit their record, and that was in the hostile environment of Death Valley in South Carolina. I bet if you put these two teams on a neutral field, the Cardinals would come away with a win. Clemson has an away date to Wake Forest next (who came close to upsetting Louisville last week before giving up 34 points in the 4th quarter) and then a home date against rival South Carolina. There’s a good chance that, based on Clemson’s inability to play well in big games so far this year, they could drop one of those games. If Louisville looks good at Houston on Thursday night and Clemson shows any missteps against Wake Forest, it would be criminal to still rank the Tigers above the Cardinals.

Washington’s performance against USC was gut-wrenchingly weak: everything we thought we knew about the Huskies was wrong. They looked awkward on offense and limp on defense, and even their star players looked below mediocre. They may be a one-loss team, but I feel pretty confident in saying that they would lose to more than half of the teams ranked below them. Wisconsin’s stifling defense would allow nothing to the Huskies, as would Oklahoma’s and Penn State’s. Luckily for us, chances are good that we’ll see a Colorado versus Washington matchup in the Pac 12 Championship, so the question will be answered as to whether the Buffs are another team ranked below the Huskies that can beat them (they are). If the Buffs lose a game before the end of the season, the Huskies will play USC again. I think you can see where this is going.

Also, where’s the love for Western Michigan? The Broncos are 10-0 and can count away wins against Northwestern and Illinois on their resume (as well as a 49-10 win at Central Michigan, Cowboys take note…). Western Michigan also boasts three explosive offensive playmakers in running back Jarvion Franklin, quarterback P.J. Fleck, and NFL-ready wide receiver Corey Davis, Jr. I’m not saying these guys would beat Alabama, but number 21? This team could beat at least five teams ranked above them.

Everything right with these rankings:

Alabama is easily the best team in the nation right now, and so the fact that they have the number one spot is something that no one should have qualms with. It’s also great to see Big 12 teams getting some love, with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State ranked 9th and 11th, respectively, despite both being two-loss teams. West Virginia, meanwhile, with only their loss to OSU to sully their record, are ranked at 14th.

USC gets lots of love at 13th, the highest ranked 3-loss team other than Auburn, who in my opinion have done little to deserve such a high ranking. The Trojans have looked stellar during their six-game win streak, and could be on track to be the first ever 3-loss team to make the playoff if they win out and get a ton of help. They would certainly deserve it after making formerly undefeated Washington look so foolish in Seattle.

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