It's November, which means it's that time of year again: when we conduct a set of preliminary weekly rankings ahead of the one rankings that really matters. The College Football Playoff's selection committee unveils its debut 2016 rankings tonight, which means it's time for the FootballScoop staff to do the same.
LAST TWO OUT and
The top four are what they are; but I believe everyone is sleeping on LSU. The Tigers' two losses came under a different head coach; and if LSU beats Alabama I believe they win out from there. And if they win out, LSU is going to the Playoff.
No. 1 If you're going strictly on resume, Clemson should probably be in this spot. The Tigers have accomplished more to this point. But we're all human, and we saw the Tide beat the Tigers last January and we've seen Alabama tear through its opponents like an unsupervised 6-year-old with a bucket of Halloween candy while Clemson struggles week after week to put people away.
No. 2 Michigan has been downright Alabama-like in the way it's dominated opponents, giving the Wolverines the nod at No. 2
No. 3 Clemson beating Florida State helped the Tigers' resume -- obviously -- but it made their most impressive victory -- Louisville -- look a little worse since FSU isn't what we thought they were when the Cardinals ripped the 'Noles 63-20 back in September.
No. 4 I wouldn't be shocked if Washington isn't in this spot tonight -- and if the Utah game had fallen this week instead of last, I think you'd see Ohio State in this spot tonight. The Huskies' results can't be argued, but their schedule won't please the committee.
LAST TWO OUT: and
Unless Colorado or Auburn somehow pull off the unthinkable, Ohio State will be the only CFP contender to beat a likely Power 5 champion in non-conference play. As I wrote last week, the Buckeyes are fine as long as they continue to win.
Auburn's resurgence significantly help A&M's resume, especially since UCLA isn't what we thought they'd be in pre-season.
No. 1There's no doubt Alabama belongs here. They may have the most dominant defense in college football history, and their offense has become even more dynamic and explosive under Lane Kiffin in year three. I don't know how they do it losing so much talent every season and with young players in key roles, but Saban has the Tide humming again this year.
No. 2 This Michigan team reminds me of the pre-Kiffin Tide. They play great defense and can grind out wins on the ground with the best of them while being incredibly efficient in the play action and drop back passing game. They also rarely make boneheaded mistakes. Combine all that, along with having perhaps the best all around player in the country, and Michigan deserves one of the top spots in the playoff if it were to happen today. They may even have challenged for the top spot for me if it weren't for the fact they opened with 5 straight home games.
No. 3 I'm going with Washington over Clemson here purely because of the eye test up until this point in the season. While the front part of their schedule was soft (Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State), the Huskies have shown they can win the close games (35-28 OT win over Arizona and 31-24 over a ranked Utah team with College GameDay in town) and that they've turned the corner and can handily beat the perennial Pac-12 contenders as well (Stanford, and Oregon). With games against Cal, USC, and the Apple Cup against Washington State yet to play, we're going to learn a lot more about Chris Petersen's squad in the coming weeks.
No. 4 For whatever reason, Clemson hasn't impressed me like I thought they would this season with all the talent they had returning. They kind of remind me of Florida State a few years ago, where they played just good enough to win and their game against NC State is the perfect example. Plenty of challenges left on the schedule to move up, but as of right now, Clemson is the #4 team for me.
LAST TWO OUT: and
Ohio State stumbled against a much improved Penn State team and won on a miracle blocked field goal that the Nittany Lions returned to the house, but I'd bet Urban and his staff find a way to use that as motivation to get the Buckeyes back on track. That end of the regular season match up with The Team Up North may decide the fate of two teams on my list here. Louisville's impressive win against Florida State, where they absolutely blew their doors off, is still burned into my memory, but they really struggled against Virginia until Lamar Jackson (my mid-season Heisman vote) took over on the final drive and gave them the lead for good.