4 things I expect to see in the third Playoff poll
Can you imagine?
You know, if the top 3 teams all lost on Saturday. That’ve been the first time in regular season history that the top three squads went down.
But that didn’t happen. That leads me to my first of 4 things I expect to see in tonight’s College Football Playoff poll.
1. Alabama will be No. 1
It’s an easy move that the selection committee doesn’t have to spin. After consecutive wins against top-25 teams, Alabama is absolutely worthy of the top spot. Strange it is that it took a Georgia loss for that to happen, but that’s where we’re at.
Could you argue that Miami has a better win than any that Alabama has? Absolutely. But let’s not forget that the selection committee wasn’t thrilled with the Canes’ strength of schedule heading into the weekend. That’s why four 1-loss teams were ranked ahead of them. They aren’t about to leapfrog an unbeaten Alabama squad.
But get ready for that unnecessary debate to take up far too much time on the ranking show.
2. And Miami will be No. 2
“The U” is soooooo back. On Saturday night, the Canes had everybody and their mother flashing back to the days of Jimmy Johnson and Larry Coker. It was arguably the best moment for that program in 13 years.
For some, it was proof that Miami was deserving of the No. 1 spot. After all, Georgia was at No. 1 because it beat Notre Dame. Why couldn’t Miami follow suit after dominating the Irish?
Well, the selection committee used that criteria to differentiate between No. 1 and No. 2. Miami was No. 7 coming into Saturday. Georgia wouldn’t have been at No. 7 without the Notre Dame win. Was the blowout impressive? Absolutely. the Canes will make the biggest jump of anyone in the top 10.
But what that Notre Dame win did for Miami was potentially open the door to make the field as a 1-loss team. The selection committee puts tremendous value in those non-conference wins, and that was one of the most impressive to date. Miami and Alabama might be the only two teams with a loss to give at this point.
Man, 2017 is wild.
3. Auburn will be No. 6, but …
I know the Tigers are all the rage right now, and rightfully so. Beating the No. 1 team in the country by that many points is nothing short of amazing. That will put the Tigers at No. 6 tonight as the top 2-loss team.
But as for whether or not they’ll be in position to earn a top-4 spot, that’s where I disagree. Yes, the 2-loss thing is a big part of that. There’s another thing that nobody is talking about with Auburn, and you can bet the talking heads won’t talk about it, either.
The selection committee greatly values non-conference play. As I always say, it makes their job easier. But consider this. Look at the previous 12 Playoff teams’ best non-conference victories:
- 12-1 Oregon, beat No. 7 Michigan State
- 12-1 Alabama, beat West Virginia
- 13-0 Florida State, beat Oklahoma State
- 12-1 Ohio State, beat Cincinnati (lost to Virginia Tech)
- 13-0 Clemson, beat No. 6 Notre Dame
- 12-1 Alabama, beat No. 20 Wisconsin
- 12-1 Michigan State, beat No. 7 Oregon
- 12-1 Oklahoma, beat No. 23 Tennessee
- 13-0 Alabama, beat No. 20 USC
- 12-1 Clemson, beat Auburn
- 11-1 Ohio State, beat No. 14 Oklahoma
- 12-1 Washington, beat Rutgers
OK, so get past the fact those are all 1-loss or unbeaten teams. You knew already knew that.
More important for this argument is the non-conference showing. The 2 most debated Playoff teams were 2014 Ohio State and 2016 Washington. Why? Their non-conference showings. Ohio State lost at home to a Virginia Tech team that won 7 games and Washington beat Rutgers.
Ohio State made the field because it crushed the rest of the B1G while 1-loss TCU beat Minnesota in non-conference play and didn’t have a conference title game.
In case you forgot, Clemson handled Auburn in non-conference play. So not only do the Tigers need to somehow become the first 2-loss team to make the field, they need to overcome the fact that their best non-conference win will be … Louisiana-Monroe (assuming they win Saturday).
So yeah, No. 6 is all well and good. And beating Alabama once and Georgia twice would be all sorts of impressive. But let’s stop ignoring that Auburn has two losses and zero quality non-conference wins. That matters.
4. Here’s what I think the top 10 will look like
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
Disagree with me? Of course you do.
But while the rest of the world is giving their opinions on what they think the top four or the top 10 will look like, I’m simply getting trying to get into the mind of the selection committee. So far, that’s been a successful venture. I’m 7 for 8 predicting the first 2 top fours.
After that big pat on the back, I fully expect an o-fer.