Takeaways from the second College Football Playoff poll
There were plenty of questions heading into the second reveal of the College Football Playoff poll.
Would Alabama and Georgia flip? Would Oklahoma move into the top four? Would Auburn crack the top 10?
All of those, plus others, were among the topics to watch out for heading into Tuesday night. Fortunately for us, we got answers to those questions.
Here were my takeaways from the overdramatic second reveal of the Playoff poll:
1. No flip? No flip
There were some people who thought that Alabama and Georgia would flip spots. After all, the Tide finally faced a top-25 team. That, however, didn’t happen. Instead, we were reminded that Georgia’s win at Notre Dame is still the difference between the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.
The selection committee didn’t have to flip Alabama and Georgia. What good would that’ve done? It would’ve suggested second-guessing, which is not the precedent the selection committee wants to set right now.
They’re going to let this thing play out. By keeping Georgia at No. 1, it has a chance to put a stranglehold on that spot until the SEC Championship. If Alabama meets the Dawgs in Atlanta, this thing will be decided then.
2. Top 4 stays the same
As I predicted, the top 4 stood pat. There was no reason to make any drastic changes. Oklahoma didn’t need to be inserted in the top 4 before it played TCU. If the Sooners are able to beat another top-25 team, then they could force the selection committee to make an actual decision about them and Clemson.
Actually, the selection committee will have a decision to make either way after TCU-Oklahoma. Could TCU move past Clemson into the top 4 with a win at Oklahoma? Perhaps. But that distinction didn’t have to be made on Tuesday. With three different matchups among top-10 teams this weekend, the selection committee didn’t need to make any big determinations yet.
Tuesday marked the fifth time in the CFP era that the top 4 remained the same. Want a prediction? We’ll have a different top 4 next week.
3. Auburn at No. 10 is important
Top-25 wins are great. You know what are even better? Top-10 wins. Beating a top-10 team this late in the season has big-time significance. If Georgia is able to do that on Saturday against No. 10 Auburn, it’ll have an even stronger résumé. That has implications for Alabama, too.
The Tide would benefit from Auburn either beating Georgia or playing a close game against Georgia. If either of those things happen, the Tigers could still have a top-10 spot by the time that Alabama game rolls around. Yes, Alabama is in if it wins out. But God forbid the Tide loses a game and misses out on an SEC Championship, things like that matter.
As Paul Finebaum said, Auburn has a major say in how these Playoffs shake out. As Connor O’Gara has been saying for weeks, Auburn’s Playoff chances are gone.
(I apologize for that snobby, third-person self-promotion.)
4. Mark Richt’s Canes are still in ideal position, even without jumping TCU
The selection committee didn’t have to overvalue Miami’s (FL) win against Virginia Tech. Instead, it decided that the Notre Dame game this weekend would have the biggest say in the Canes’ outlook moving forward.
Could one make the argument that Miami (FL) deserved to be ranked higher than No. 7? Sure. It’s an undefeated ACC team that’s coming off a win against a battle-tested top-25 team. In case you forgot, they’re still one of four Power 5 teams without a loss.
But the selection committee has been consistent about non-conference efforts. Until you prove you can beat a quality non-conference foe, you aren’t going to get love. Plain and simple. This weekend, we’ll find out everything we need to know about Miami (FL).
And for what it’s worth, the rest of the Power 5 conferences should be pulling hard for the Canes to eliminate the Irish on Saturday.
5. Five SEC teams in the top 25
I apologize if you’re sick of reading this from me, but the point is worth making on a weekly basis. The rest of the top 25 is important. Coaches can preach tunnel vision all they want, but it matters what their opponents do outside of their individual matchups.
The fact that LSU is still in the top 25 after the Alabama loss is significant. There’s a decent chance that the Tigers win their final three games of the season and finish with a top-25 spot. If we are indeed talking about a one-loss Alabama team that misses out on an SEC title, that résumé is going to matter. And if the Tide beat No. 16 Mississippi State on Saturday, it would be helpful for the SEC’s 2-team bid if the Bulldogs finished 2017 on a 2-game winning streak.
Barring something crazy, this isn’t looking like a situation in which Alabama and Georgia are the SEC’s only top-25 teams. That was an actual possibility at one point. Had that happened, it’d be awfully tough to justify two SEC teams making history.
That won’t be the case. Clearly, the SEC’s 2-team bid is alive and well.