DudeYouCrazy Top 25 – September 11: Georgia to Make College Foobtall Playoff, But How Many More SEC Teams?
First and foremost, if you missed the general introduction check this out. With that out of the way, let’s go.
Frankly, I was glad to not have Georgia in the top spot here because I did not want to be a homer. LSU gets the top spot for two reasons: 1. The Tigers’ win over then-no. 8 Miami is arguably the best win of the year. What’s more, the Tigers have room for more quality wins with four more games remaining against ranked opponents. Frankly, this is where I expect my poll to be much more volatile than other polls — there will actually be week-to-week chances at the top spot (OH MY!). For the time being, however, the Tigers have the best win in the country (IMO) and a chance to have two top-25 (and Top 10 for that matter) wins after this week.
I’d argue that Auburn’s win over Washington is the second-best win of the year. It was not as decisive as LSU’s, but it was at a neutral site and the Huskies remain the highest-ranked team in the country to lose a game (they were ranked 6th in the AP at the time). Auburn has four remaining contests against Top 25 foes, beginning this week with LSU. Spoiler: the winner of that game will have my top spot next week, and I’m picking the Tigers. Not letting me get away with that? Fine. I’m picking Auburn.
I promise this won’t be an all-SEC top five and it’s going to get interesting in just a moment, but the fact remains that the largest margin of victory over a Top 25 opponent this year belongs to Georgia and the Dawgs got it on the road in a hostile environment with a 24-point win over South Carolina. That is, in my opinion, the third-best win of any team in the country at this juncture (though it’s close) and the Dawgs still have two projected ranked games in the regular season and a projected conference championship game (something I’m not awarding to LSU or Auburn yet because ya know…).
Stanford beat #17 USC by 14 points. That’s more impressive than Notre Dame’s 7-point win over #14 Michigan. Further, as we look ahead, Stanford has an opportunity to improve more on its resume. Stanford has four more games against teams currently ranked by the AP and is projected to have a 5th in the Pac-12 title game. Notre Dame has 3 more ranked games.
5. Notre Dame
See the logic above for why Notre Dame isn’t higher. Why is Notre Dame above Virginia Tech (who beat then-number 19 FSU by 21)? It all has to do with the upcoming schedule. Fortunately, Notre Dame and VA Tech will settle things on the field on October 6th, so I’m just really not worried about this.
6. Virginia Tech
The win over FSU was technically an upset and the Seminoles’ disastrous performance against Samford should not negate what Tech accomplished. So, here the Hokies sit. Six may seem high for a team currently ranked 13th by the AP, but they’re one win over Notre Dame away from having one of the best top-end track records in the country with just one more ranked regular season opponent and possibly an ACC Championship game remaining. That’s a sweet spot to be and based on what’s happened in two weeks (very little) and what lies ahead (a lot), it’s entirely possible.
7. Arizona State
This frothiness will work itself out sooner than later, but for the time being Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils have the seventh-best win in the country and no black eyes. That puts them at seventh. Of all the Top 10 teams, they seem the most-likely to fall deep (i.e. out of the Top 20) quickly.
Oklahoma has looked strong so far this season against mediocre competition, but what works well for the Sooners is that they have enough Top 25 games remaining (3) to make some noise, they are projected to play a Top 25 opponent for the conference title, and they should be favored in every game left by both my poll and the AP. They’re in a good spot to climb which puts them ahead of the likes of Alabama, etc.
Thus far, LSU and Auburn have better resumes than Alabama. That’s why they’re ranked higher. Therefore, I can’t have Bama as the top team without a Top 25 win, because they have to play the top teams in the country (by my methodology). Something has to give.
10. West Virginia
I love Will Grier. Everyone knows that. And everyone should love him too. The Mountaineers should be undefeated until November when they end the year with three-straight games against the Top 25. They’ll build quite a cushion while accomplishing very little. That’s a nice little place to be.
11. Ohio State
If you’re coming from a Power 5 conference that was left out of the Playoff a year ago, perception is everything. I think the sweet spot for Top 25 teams is to play 3 other ranked opponents (see Tweet below for some context). But if you’re going to err, go over that tally if you’re a Big Ten school. Again, you were left out a year ago. Ohio State has four upcoming games against ranked foes so that puts them above the likes of Wisconsin from their own conference.
12. Penn State
Penn State isn’t really being “docked” for the App State debacle, but I refuse to have ties in my polls. So for the time being that’s the difference between the Nittany Lions and Ohio State.
See the commentary above regarding Ohio State. It’s just going to be tough for Wisconsin to build a resume by my standard with only two ranked opponents on tap. Per my rankings, they’ll play Michigan (#22) and Penn State (#12). That’s all that’s guaranteed.
Everyone in the Big 12 plays everyone. So TCU is basically the same as Oklahoma and West Virginia at this juncture with one obvious exception: the Horned Frogs have to play Ohio State this week. Now, if they win they immediately vault up this poll and leapfrog the Sooners, the Mountaineers and a few other schools. But that risk can’t be rewarded preemptively.
15. Oklahoma State
Basically, copy and paste the paragraph above and change “Ohio State” to “Boise State.” I’ve got TCU higher because a win over the Buckeyes will be valued more than a win over the Broncos. But both would be huge.
16. Mississippi State
I hate this team as a Top 25 team, but they have to go somewhere. They’ll have plenty of shots at better teams (notably LSU, Auburn and Bama) but I don’t expect much to come from that. But the fact remains: they have a schedule that will allow them to climb. The same is not necessarily true of the undefeateds below them.
The jury’s still out on this Ducks squad, but if they can pick and choose moments and avoid upsets they have a schedule that will enable them to move up while other teams beat each other.
18. Boise State
“You only get one shot do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo.” Translation: Boise State will play a single ranked team this year. They will finish the year 1-0 vs. the Top 25 or 0-1. They could move briefly into the Top 10 with a win or settle at the bottom (or out) of the rankings with a loss this week.
Know what’s worse than only playing one ranked team? Playing no ranked teams. And right now, Clemson has ZERO ranked opponents on its schedule. It’s just tough to build good-will that way. What will they need to move up in my poll? They need everyone to lose. They need a slew of teams (likely either Auburn or LSU, some combo of Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State, some combo of OK State, TCU and Oklahoma and for good measure – Mississippi State) to lose 2-3 (or more) games. And they need to win against a ranked ACC foe in the conference championship. How crazy is college football? They’ll probably close out in the Top 6 of my poll when it’s all said and done.
Hard to get credit for beating good teams if you don’t play any. Maybe that sucks, maybe it doesn’t. But what you shouldn’t do, dear reader, is buy into the notion that no one will schedule UCF. Sure, the Knights went undefeated last year and claimed a made-up National Championship. But they were 6-7 with losses to two Power 5 teams (Michigan and Maryland) in 2016. That’s not a “do-not-schedule” caliber season. They literally lost every single game (including two to Power 5 programs in Stanford and South Carolina) in 2015. In total, UCF is 3-7 vs. Power 5 opposition during scheduled regular season games over the past five years. Schedules are made years in advance. You think people were scared of the winless team from 2015?
The “best” loss on the board for Top 25 teams right now belongs to Washington. Losing by five points to my No. 2 team (Auburn) in a neutral but Tiger-heavy Atlanta game is pretty darn respectable. The Huskies have enough “strong” games left (3 more vs. the AP Top 25) to make headway without having to navigate an insane minefield. They can make moves in two weeks vs. Arizona State.
I don’t trust Jim Harbaugh as far as I can throw him and with four more games against ranked opposition, I have trouble seeing how he gets above the 18-22 range all season. For now, he’s downgraded for a loss to Notre Dame. They may pick up some steam over the next month or so before a big date with Wisconsin.
Miami gets the edge over USC for the time being because a 16-point loss to my No. 1 team (LSU) is marginally better than a 14-point loss to my No. 4 team (Stanford). But Miami can’t make up much ground with its schedule.
A 17-3 loss to Stanford may not prove to be a season-ender and perhaps this is a bit harsh (though the AP has the Trojans at 22), but what has USC accomplished this year? Nothing. And they’ve only got two ranked opponents left on the schedule. Tough to make up ground that way.
25. Michigan State
Of all the losses by currently-ranked teams, Michigan State’s loss to Arizona State is the worst for two reasons: 1. Arizona State was not ranked at the time and 2. Arizona State is my (and the AP’s) lowest-ranked team with a Top-25 win. There’s not anything to love about the Spartans.
|Team||Dude’s Rank||AP Rank||Relative Positioning|
|Notre Dame||5||8||Up 3|
|Virginia Tech||6||13||Up 7|
|Arizona State||7||23||Up 16|
|West Virginia||10||14||Up 4|
|Ohio State||11||4||Down 7|
|Penn State||12||11||Down 1|
|Oklahoma State||15||24||Up 9|
|Boise State||18||17||Down 1|
So Who’s in the Playoff?
When the season ends, my projected Top 4 and my Poll’s Top 4 should be identical. We’re not there yet so let’s take a look at both.
My poll gives us: LSU, Auburn, Georgia and Stanford. Obviously, the committee isn’t going to take three teams from the SEC. Fortunately, one will be weeded out this week in a head-to-head battle and I think the winner of that game may ultimately be supplanted by Alabama.
So in my projection, I’m swapping Bama for LSU and Auburn. In deference to precedent and the poll itself, I’m leaving a second SEC team (Georgia) in. Stanford and Notre Dame will play in a few weeks and I’d take Notre Dame in that game (regardless of poll positioning). I think VA Tech will also be bumped by Notre Dame, I think AZ State will lose a slew of games. Oklahoma is the next team I don’t have an eliminating scenario for. So let’s put the Sooners in. Thus, my projection is: Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
That’s all I got/