College Football Playoff Rankings: Alabama new No. 1, Miami jumps to No. 3

The Champions Classic in Chicago featured a couple of really good basketball games with the College Football Playoff Rankings serving as between-game entertainment.  If you find that show to be entertaining, that is. We did get some interesting results this week, though, after two top-three teams and a number of top 25 teams lost, the third edition of this season’s CFP Rankings was bound to see some legitimate shakeups. 

In my weekly column predicting these rankings, I mentioned that sometimes strength of schedule matters, and sometimes it doesn’t.  The same goes for head-to-head, relative dominance, recency bias, etc.  It’s a highly subjective process.  We see some of all of that in these rankings.

Let’s start at the top where Alabama has assumed the No. 1 spot following a 31-24 win at Mississippi State this week.  You could argue that Miami has better wins or a stronger schedule, but Alabama has been more dominant, this week an exception, so it is No. 1. Clemson is still ahead of Miami, sitting at No. 2.  I do not have a problem with that, but I thought the CFP Selection Committee would be overly impressed with the Hurricanes’ beatdown of Notre Dame.  They saved that overly impressed bit for someone else, though, as Clemson has played one of the better schedules and has the best overall collection of wins, so its ranking is justifiable.

Miami is No. 3, right ahead of Oklahoma, which picked up its second big win in as many weeks.  The Sooners now have wins at Ohio State, at Oklahoma State and at home over TCU.  Two of those are more impressive than any of Miami’s wins, but the Sooners still trail the Hurricanes in the rankings.  I could see a case for Miami ahead of both Clemson and Oklahoma, and I could see a case for Miami behind both of them, but in between seems a bit off.  Clemson and Oklahoma are very similar.  Miami has yet to pick up a quality road win.

Let’s take a look at how 1-25 shook out. Keep on scrolling for additional analysis of this week’s rankings.

College Football Playoff Rankings, Nov. 14

  1. Alabama (10-0)
  2. Clemson (9-1)
  3. Miami (9-0)
  4. Oklahoma (9-1)
  5. Wisconsin (10-0)
  6. Auburn (8-2)
  7. Georgia (9-1)
  8. Notre Dame (8-2)
  9. Ohio State (8-2)
  10. Penn State (8-2)
  11. USC (9-2)
  12. TCU (8-2)
  13. Oklahoma State (8-2)
  14. Washington State (9-2)
  15. UCF (9-0)
  16. Mississippi State (7-3)
  17. Michigan State (7-3)
  18. Washington (8-2)
  19. NC State (7-3)
  20. LSU (7-3)
  21. Memphis (8-1)
  22. Stanford (7-3)
  23. Northwestern (7-3)
  24. Michigan (8-2)
  25. Boise State (8-2)

Biggest risers: Washington State (up from 19 to 14), Miami (7 to 3)
Biggest falls: Virginia Tech (down from 17 to out), Georgia (1 to 7), TCU (6 to 12), Iowa (20 to out)

Recency bias and an overweighting of head-to-head come into play with No. 6 Auburn being ranked one place ahead of Georgia.  That is based solely on one game and not the entire season.  In this case, it does not matter for the long term because either Auburn will lose again in the regular season or the teams will play each other in the SEC Championship Game and sort it out for good.

No. 11 Ohio State also benefitted from recency bias — in this case, a dominant performance over a good team — in jumping USC.  If the Buckeyes win 14-3 instead of 48-3, that probably does not happen.  Also, like Miami, Ohio State has yet to beat anyone of note away from home. 

What I do not understand is how Penn State also made that jump.  If anything, its strength of schedule was damaged with a game against Rutgers and a loss by Iowa, dropping the Hawkeyes from the rankings.

UCF has climbed up to No. 15 this week as some teams ahead of them picked up third losses.  The only two-loss major conference teams ranked behind the Knights are No. 18 Washington and No. 24 Michigan.

And finally, a thought on Michigan’s debut in the rankings … LOL!

I guess the committee completely ran out of teams to consider.  Certainly, no less-qualified, major-conference school has ever appeared in these rankings.  Michigan’s best win is … 4-6 Purdue?  … 5-5 Minnesota, which lost to Purdue? … 4-6 Rutgers (4-6),which beat Purdue?  The Gophers have the best record of any team the Wolverines have vanquished and are the only one that is not below .500.  If Michigan beats Wisconsin this week — fine, rank it. Make the Wolverines earn it at least a little bit.

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