College Football Playoff: A Ranking Where Anything Can Happen

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Last year the four-team field of the College Football Playoff was decided in the very last week of the regular season. When the first rankings were unveiled, Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn, and Ole Miss rounded out the top four. Three SEC teams were in, but none of them could hold onto their spot in the rankings. By the end of the season, there were more changes in the top four than a presidential primary.

Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State were the eventual top three, while Ohio State clinched the Big Ten title and slid into the fourth slot. However, TCU and Baylor shared a Big 12 title, but both teams were left on the sideline proving that the Playoff rankings don’t truly matter until the last week of the season.

“The end game is what’s important. There are a lot of big games that will impact those four teams,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “We can’t control what happens tonight, the past is behind us. We need to move forward. I’ll be watching film tonight.”

The first Playoff Committee rankings of the 2015 campaign will be announced tonight at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. With every college football fan and expert tuning in, the announcement has high interest but extremely low importance in terms of how the rest of the season will shake out.

There are 11 undefeated teams and nine one-loss teams amongst the AP Top 25. As the weeks go by, that list will significantly decrease. Not to mention the implosion that will occur in the Big 12 Conference. Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State sit at the top as the unbeatens, while Oklahoma trails right behind with one loss. The problem for Big 12 fans is that all four teams have yet to face off against each other. And with no conference championship game, the chance of a Big 12 team working in to the Playoff top four seems unlikely.

As for the Big Ten Conference, there are three horses in the race. Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa are all undefeated. The showdown on Nov. 21 in Columbus, Ohio between Michigan State and Ohio State will determine who will represent the East Division in the Big Ten Championship Game – if both teams remain undefeated post their clash. Do not count out the Wolverines however. There is a chance a tiebreaker might be the deciding factor. For Michigan, the idea of playing spoiler to their most hated rival could ultimately catapult the Spartans into the Playoff if MSU loses to the Buckeyes.

Iowa on the other hand has complete control of their destiny. Win out and they have a chance to knock off either Ohio State or Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game. The real question is, if they pull off the upset over one of the East’s juggernauts, does Iowa deserve to be in the playoff? The Big Ten West is considered the weak underbelly between the two divisions in the Big Ten and their out-of-conference schedule was one of the weakest, which could ultimately keep them out of the Playoff.  

LSU, Alabama and Florida make up the SEC’s chances for Playoff representation. However, LSU and Alabama play this Saturday, meaning whoever comes out victorious in that bout has a clear view of the Georgia Dome, and the SEC title game to play most likely against the Gators.

With the first Playoff ranking to be announced tonight, any player or coach in any program across the country will say the same exact words. There is only one rule when it comes to college football – win. Win and everything will take care of itself, because as we all witnessed last season, anything can happen.