Who wants to be No. 2? Anyone? Bueller?

Last week, the selection committee decided that Alabama was worthy of being the No. 2 team in the country. With 1 loss and a pair of top 25 CFP wins, the Tide got the benefit of the doubt ahead of Michigan State, Oregon, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Oklahoma.

In Week 10, not a single one of those teams won a game by more than 10 points. Michigan State lost to an unranked foe, Oklahoma was idle and Alabama, Ohio State and Cincinnati all held on by single digits against unranked teams. Oregon was the only team in that group that won by double digits, and it was a 10-point win against a 4-4 Washington team.

So does that mean the selection committee will simply leave Alabama at No. 2 after the Tide were a play away from losing as a 4-touchdown home favorite against a team with a lame duck coach? Or will Oregon perhaps move into that new spot?

We don’t know. What we do know is that there’s another selection show on Tuesday night at approximately 9 p.m. ET on ESPN (it’ll air in between the Champions Classic games to kick off the college hoops season, followed by Kentucky vs. Duke). Surely, everyone will be quite upset by the time it ends.

Remember, this is what I think will happen, not necessarily what I think should happen.

10. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys should crack the top 10 for a couple of reasons. On a weekend with all of that aforementioned chaos, all Mike Gundy’s team did was continue playing rock solid defense in a 24-3 victory against a middle-of-the-pack West Virginia team. The Cowboys might actually be a touch underrated given the average margin of victory against Power 5 competition (+16.5) and the multiple wins against Power 5 teams with a winning record. That’s something that fellow contenders Michigan, Michigan State and Cincinnati don’t have. Could Oklahoma State get into the field still? It’s possible, but beating Oklahoma in consecutive weeks doesn’t seem likely.

9. Notre Dame

The Irish aren’t getting into the Playoff, but man, this would’ve been a nice year to have that ACC Championship. Quietly, the 1-loss Irish actually have a pretty respectable résumé. Alabama and Georgia are the only teams with more victories against Power 5 teams with winning records (the Irish have 3). Losing at home to Cincinnati is nothing to scoff at, either. Beating Wisconsin, Purdue and UNC all by double digits now looks even more impressive, too. But without that conference championship game or another premier matchup to close the season, those Playoff odds are slim to none.

8. Oklahoma

I could actually see a scenario in which the Sooners rise 2 spots for being idle. That’s how wild the top 6 was. The problem? You’d be moving down Michigan after it rolled Indiana and basically did exactly what the non-Georgia teams ahead of it failed to do. That is, win convincingly. I’m a week removed from writing that the Sooners would be at No. 2 in those first rankings, but the selection committee sent a loud message by having them at No. 8. The good news is that there are essentially 4 opportunities for Oklahoma to rack up respectable wins down the stretch. Having said that, this is the exact reason why the Sooners still aren’t likely to get much love:

7. Michigan

The selection committee told us that head-to-head actually matters, which is why the Wolverines’ ranking will have a ceiling unless it can finally get over the Ohio State hump. For now, though, the 1-loss résumé is good, not great. The Wolverines only have 1 win against a Power 5 team with a winning record. The average margin of victory against Power 5 teams (+13.7) is middle of the pack among the current Playoff contenders. Like so many teams on this list, the schedule is backloaded with quality win opportunities. We still, however, can’t even say the Wolverines control their own Playoff destiny because an Ohio State win only punches a ticket to Indianapolis if Ohio State beats Michigan State.

6. Cincinnati

I could see Cincinnati being anywhere from No. 5-8. Reluctantly, I’ll say that the Bearcats stand pat at No. 6 after surviving Tulsa. Lost on the minds of those ripping Cincinnati was the fact that Oklahoma beat Tulsa by 1 score and Ohio State was in a 1-score game against Tulsa with 4 minutes to play. But I digress. The Bearcats had a favorable opportunity for some style points, and they didn’t capitalize. Houston could sneak into the CFP Top 25 after winning its 8th consecutive game, but again, the Bearcats are being let down by the AAC and Indiana. Fair or not, that’s why the selection committee is going to continue to give the Bearcats the short end of the stick.

5. Michigan State

Here’s the interesting question. How much did losing to Purdue drop the Spartans? Behind Cincinnati? Behind Oklahoma? I don’t think so. Purdue, based on the Mississippi State school of thought, is likely to be ranked in this week’s Playoff Top 25. That’ll help. What won’t help Michigan State is the fact that it has an average margin of victory against Power 5 teams of just 8.1 points. That’s the worst among these 10 CFP contenders. But that Michigan win continues to hold up well. It better hold up well because that’s still the Spartans’ only win against a Power 5 team with a winning record.

4. Ohio State

That was far from an impressive showing against Nebraska. With perhaps some better special teams play from the Huskers, Ohio State would be out of Playoff contention with loss No. 2. But as it stands, the Buckeyes are actually in position to take Michigan State’s spot among the top 4. That says a lot about how poorly the non-Georgia teams at the top played in Week 10. With the head-to-head advantage, Oregon is going to continue to cap Ohio State’s rankings ceiling, at least based on what the first ranking suggested. But just in case you wanted a side-by-side of Ohio State and Alabama, well, here ya go:

Ohio State
Avg. P5 margin
Victories vs. winning P5
Wins vs. current AP Top 25

And obviously, they each have a loss. Both control their respective destinies within the conference, though that’s not factored into these current rankings. Alabama has the far more impressive win. Ole Miss is likely going to be in the top 15, and that was a blowout. Ohio State’s most impressive win was a single-digit victory at home against a Penn State team with 3 losses. That’s why the Tide will continue to get the nod ahead of the Buckeyes.

3. Oregon

Go figure that Oregon beating a 4-4 Washington team by 10 points was actually one of the more impressive things we saw from Playoff contenders over the weekend. The Ducks are still at the bottom of the barrel in terms of average margin of victory against Power 5 teams (9.3), and Fresno State losing badly to Boise State hurt the résumé. But with Michigan State losing and Oregon continuing to rack up Power 5 wins, it should still be in position to be ranked ahead of the Spartans and Bearcats.

The other good news for Oregon? As bad as the Pac-12 is, there are still possibly 4 more opportunities to beat Power 5 teams with winning records. That could be key in continuing to fend off 1-loss Ohio State and unbeaten Cincinnati if it were to come down to that.

2. Alabama

Alabama is getting treated like a team with the “screw you” switch that we saw it have from 2018-20. In 4 of Alabama’s 6 conference games, it was a 1-score game in the 4th quarter. The only 2 that weren’t were against Ole Miss and MSU, which helps the résumé. But look at the Tide’s scoring differential vs. Power 5 teams the last 3 years compared to 2021:

  • 2018 — +24.0
  • 2019 — +21.5
  • 2020 — +29.1
  • 2021 — +17.9 (through 7 games vs. P5 competition)

I don’t anticipate the Tide falling, though. Why not, you ask? Saturday reminded us that outside of Georgia, nobody has that gear. At least not yet. Among the CFP contenders, Ohio State and Georgia are the only teams with larger average margins of victory against Power 5 competition. That’s probably why you won’t hear the selection committee reference Alabama scoring just 20 points against an LSU defense with half of its starters out.

1. Georgia

Among the aforementioned top 10 Playoff contenders, Georgia has:

  • A) The biggest average margin of victory vs. Power 5 competition (+29.8)
  • B) The most victories among Power 5 teams with w/ a winning record (5)
  • C) Is one of 2 remaining unbeaten Power 5 teams
  • D) Still yet to allow 14 points in a single game
  • E) All the above

It’s “E.” It’s always “E.”

Just in case the eye test wasn’t enough, the Dawgs continue to rack up blowout victories. The crazy thing is that even if they were to lose as 3-touchdown favorites at Tennessee, they’d still have arguably the best résumé among the 1-loss Power 5 teams. As in, Georgia could lose this weekend and still be ranked No. 1.

If this year taught us anything, it’s that nothing should be assumed. But so far, that school of thought doesn’t apply to Georgia.