This article contains opinion.
The word that best describes the college football rankings is “wow.”
Let me just say that the rankings are shocking, but remember that it is the first week. There will still be several more weeks ‘till the final rankings are announced.
The Top Four
Ohio State being ranked at No. 1 caught most off guard, including myself, a Buckeye fan. The thing about this team is that they have won games with ease this year. Its closest games were 24-point victories against Florida Atlantic and Michigan State.
The analytics say they are No. 1, but they still have a rough ending to the year. They still play No. 4 Penn State, who we will get to later, and No. 14 Michigan. If they win out, the Buckeyes will have a ranked opponent in the Big Ten Championship.
No. 2 LSU is the team many thought would be at the top. They have a fantastic resume so far, beating No. 10 Florida and No. 11 Auburn.
The main game comes Saturday as they play No. 3 Alabama. Heisman-hopeful Joe Burrow will have to be at the top of his game. This game determines a lot for both as the loser may not get into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide are right where they need to be ranked. They have played no one ranked but have done what they needed to do.
Alabama is in the same place LSU is in: they need to win. Tua Tagovailoa has been dealing with an ankle injury, but unless they need to cut his foot off, he will play.
They are not out of the clear if they win against LSU as they would still have tough matchups. They have the Iron Bowl against Auburn for the last game. If they go to the SEC Championship, they will likely face No. 6 Georgia.
The Nittany Lions were the team many did not expect to see in the top four. Their record says yes, but the quality of wins likely says no.
The thing that I could not get over is how they won by seven or fewer points to three teams. One of those teams was Pitt, who is average at best and looks decent only because the ACC Coastal is a weak division.
The two games I am looking at are No. 17 Minnesota and Ohio State. The game this week against Minnesota will test the offense. If they could take the Golden Gophers down, the Buckeyes will be eyeing both the Lions and their playoff spot up in a couple weeks.
Outside Looking In
No. 5 Clemson should not be worried whatsoever, despite not currently holding a playoff spot. They are the most dangerous team in the country in my opinion. They have handled everyone up to this point easily, except North Carolina, which ended in a one-point game.
They have not had a great win but have No. 19 Wake Forest left. The Tigers are sneakily good, and Trevor Lawrence and Tee Higgins will cause trouble to any defense in the country.
No. 6 Georgia is in the driver’s seat to get to the conference championship. That will be the game that determines everything since it will be against a top two team at that time in Alabama or LSU.
Jake Fromm is the player to worry about. He has struggled in huge games and has made critical errors.
The only way they could get in is by winning out and capturing the SEC Championship. The reason this is not going to happen is because Alabama and LSU are better.
No. 8 Utah has been a team many on the East Coast do not know much about, mostly because many of their games start at 10 p.m. Eastern.
For anyone who has watched this team, it is well put together. The Utes went from a five-loss team last year to a chance at a New Year’s Six Bowl.
Coach Kyle Whittingham is making his name known, and the team will have a hard game if they make it to the Pac-12 Championship. They would go against No. 7 Oregon, and that is a game many should watch come the end of the season.
Picking an entire conference is cheating, but the American Athletic Conference is too good not to talk about. They currently have four ranked teams.
No. 20 Cincinnati has one loss on the season. That loss was against the No. 1 team in the country.
No. 21 Memphis is off a big win against No. 25 SMU. Their loss was by two to Temple. They still have Cincinnati on their schedule, however.
No. 24 Navy is always fun to watch with the triple option offense. Their only loss is to Memphis.
They have the hardest remaining schedule of the four with No. 15 Notre Dame and SMU left, not to mention the always competitive Army-Navy game at season’s end. My hot take is Navy goes and beats Touchdown Jesus in South Bend on the way to winning out in the regular season.
Finally we have SMU, who had its only loss, as stated above, to Memphis. They have had a good season thus far and will likely make it to a half-decent bowl game.
This is a hard thing to predict, especially when it’s weeks away from the final rankings. There are still many top 25 matchups left.
I will do No. 6 to No. 1, and the first team out will be Georgia. They have had a great season in a tough conference, but I do not see them winning out.
No. 5 will be Utah. They will beat Oregon to win the conference title, but because it is not an extremely competitive conference, they will just miss out on a playoff spot.
At No. 4 I have LSU. They will lose this week to Alabama, but are good enough to make it into the playoffs without a conference championship. Joe Burrow will also win the Heisman.
No. 3 will be Clemson. There is no way they are left out if they win out. They will be in the top four in two weeks.
No. 2 features Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been the most dominant team in college football this season. That will continue as they will beat Penn State in overtime. Watch out for The Game as well.
No. 1 is pretty obvious in Alabama. The committee and fans alike will be getting jittery for the big rematch between the Crimson Tide and Tigers.
All in all, the new year and the final playoff rankings can’t come soon enough.