Written by The Dark Knight of Sports LaShawn Encarnacion
The first College Football Playoff rankings were released last night and while a good number of fans and experts are up in arms, a deeper look proves that for at least three of the teams, they are 100-percent accurate.
So lets break down the top 4 and the first two out.
#1 The Clemson Tigers:
The leaders of the ACC Atlantic division have not only gone through their schedule but have done so in dominating fashion. With wins against ranked Notre Dame and the thumping of the Hurricanes of the University of Miami, which by the way caused the final demise of Al Golden, the Clemson Tigers have proven to be formidable on both the offensive and defensive side of the football. All of this debate could very well end when they play Florida State this coming Saturday, but if not, the road to the CFP looks like easy street, with only the Tarheels of North Carolina in their way in the ACC Championship game if things play out as they do.
#2 The LSU Tigers;
Dare ANYONE to name a player who is better than Leonard Fournette right now in college football. In the new world where the game belongs to the quarterbacks, Fournette is doing things on that football field that take fans to the days of old, days of Bo Jackson, O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen and all the star running backs who have solid college seasons that more than likely will end with a Heisman Trophy for Fournette as well. The defense of Les Miles … aka The Mad Hatter … never disappoints as it continues to be the focal point. Special teams also is strong for the GEAUX Tigers of Baton Rouge. The one question coming into the season was the quarterback situation, but over the course of the season, that too continues to resolve itself. With wins against ranked opponents like Auburn, Mississippi State AND Florida (currently leading SEC East), the GEAUX Tigers looks to be the team. But all that can change if they lose to the Alabama Crimson Tide this weekend. Even if they get pass Nick Saban’s team, the GEAUX Tigers still have ranked Ole Miss and Texas A & M to contend with in their own division before what is most likely a rematch with the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship.
#3 The Ohio State Buckeyes:
Now its time to take about the reigning champions, the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University. If there was a team in the top 4 to be debated it is this one. The Buckeyes are not only with issues at the quarterback position, but they do not even hold their own division alone. They share the Big Ten East division with the Michigan State Spartans, who are also 8-0 and 4-0 in conference play. The schedule of the Buckeyes does not pop out either. Wins against Rutgers, Penn State to date. IF the Buckeyes can finish off Michigan State and the University of Michigan (back-to-back) and get to the Big Ten title game, more than likely to play the University of Iowa, then they will solidify their position. But as of today, they are only in because of their name and what they have done last year. Teams like Baylor, the TCU Horned Frogs and even Sparty himself, deserve more consideration than the Buckeyes as of today in this inaugural CFP rankings.
#4 The Alabama Crimson Tide:
In the last segment, undefeated teams like Baylor, TCU and Michigan State were brought up. So why does a 1-loss Crimson Tide team get the nod over the undefeated? Very simple, the level of competition combined with the quality of wins that Nick Saban and his team have put together over the course of the entire season. Wins against ranked opponents like Wisconsin, Ole Miss, University of Georgia, Texas A & M and a very feisty Tennessee team, the Crimson Tide have come beaten every single team with solid defense and an even much solid running game with Derrick Henry leading the way. The one issue that was troubling for this team was the quarterback situation as it was undecided for a while, but it seems to have resolved itself and the Crimson Tide look formidable coming into their HUGE match up with the LSU GEAUX Tigers this weekend. IF the Crimson Tide get past LSU, then all that remains is Mississippi State and of course the very unpredictable “Iron Bowl” match up against Auburn before heading for the SEC Championship game against most likely Gators of Florida. Its all about the quality of opponents that make the case for this 1-loss team from Alabama, the same case that can very easily oppose the Buckeyes and their position.
First 2 OUT:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish:
With solid wins against ranked opponents Georgia Tech and Temple, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame have laid out everyone, with the exception of the Clemson Tigers and that game was a close one as well. The team led by coach Brian Kelly, has proven to be solid on all fronts. The offensive side can put up the points while protecting the ball. The defense can hold teams in their place while creating turnovers and the special teams are always special with just a hint of the luck of the Irish. One last ranked opponent on the Independent’s list, the Stanford Cardinal, who currently are ranked 11th in the CFP rankings and ninth in the AP. If the Irish can get past Stanford, they do everything they can to make their case and will sit back and pray that it is enough.
When “quality of wins” comes into the discussions of the committee’s minds, the Baylor Bears are always in the conversation. Not because of their opponents, but the way they defeat who is put in front of them. The lowest scoring victory of the Bears of Baylor is 45 while their highest victory output is 70. The Baylor Bears are averaging 61-points per game, best in the nation. 3rd in the nation in rushing (338.3 yards per game) and 10th in passing (347.9 yards per game). But now lets breakdown who those numbers are against. Teams like Rice, Texas Tech, University of Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State just to name a few. No real quality win here. IF they can get past Oklahoma State, The Sooners of Oklahoma AND TCU, then the Bears not only deserve this ranking but make a serious case for being in the top 4 as well. But that is a BIG if, especially losing their starting quarterback and moving on this season with a true freshman working under center.
Michigan State Spartans
TCU Horned Frogs
FYI: Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @TheDarkTruthASN
AND catch my weekly podcast “The Dark Truth” every Monday evening. 10 PM CT, 8 PM Pacific.