When the calendar rolls around in November, that means it’s time to put away the Halloween costumes and break out the crystal balls. The first college football playoff standings are in – and it’s time for some fun predictions.
The first of six CFP top 25 reveals takes place at 7 p.m. ET tonight on ESPN (here’s the full schedule; the second ranking is Nov. 8). Ahead of the announcement, here’s a prediction of how the committee might rank its top 25 teams. Note that these are my predictions and mine alone. I’m looking at head-to-head results, schedule strength, games against ranked teams and more to help rank teams the way I think the CFP committee will. You can read the official protocols of the CFP committee here.
College Football Playoff Standings Predictions: Top 25 Projections
- Georgia (8-0) – Here, I think the blowout non-conference win over Oregon matters a lot, as well as the overall dominance (mostly Mizzou aside).
- Tennessee (8-0) – That 38-point beating of Kentucky could even lift the Vols to first place. Wins over the Wildcats, LSU’s surge on the road and, yes, Alabama, makes a strong argument for No. 1.
- Ohio State (8-0) – The Buckeyes were tested for a long time, but OSU still picked up a 13-point road win over a ranked Penn State team. An improvement in Notre Dame also helps Ohio State’s case for the top spot.
- Michigan (8-0) – The No. 4 spot in the initial standings is perhaps the most interesting, given that it’s a preview of what the committee values for that crucial playoff final spot. The Wolverines just looked good, period, and this Penn State rout stands out.
- Clemson (8-0) – The Tigers may have slipped to fourth – they still could – but their wins over Wake Forest and Syracuse aren’t quite as good after those teams’ losses in Week 9.
- TCU (8-0) – The Horned Frogs may be the last undefeated team in the poll, but TCU have come a long way since August. Just keep winning and wait for the other undefeated teams to slide.
- Alabama (7-1) – It would be a shock if the Tide weren’t the highest-ranked one-loss team, considering the loss came on the road to Tennessee in the final play of the game. Next came a key two-game streak against LSU and Ole Miss.
- Oregon (7-1) – The opening loss to UGA was ugly, but the Ducks have looked great ever since. Much of the remaining schedule isn’t easy, however, starting Nov. 12 against Washington.
- UCLA (7-1) –The Bruins weren’t hungover after losing to Oregon, taking care of business against Stanford, 38-13. Unless things get weird, UCLA should be 9-1 against rival USC.
- Ole Miss (8-1) – The Rebels regrouped after the 25-point loss to LSU by edging out Texas A&M. Ole Miss doesn’t have any truly huge wins yet, but the Rebels are visited by Alabama on Nov. 12.
- USC (7-1) – Caleb Williams’ 411 passing yards helped the Trojans beat Arizona 45-37. USC is still looking for a signing win, which could keep them outside the top 10 at first.
- Kansas State (6-2) – The Wildcats could be the best two-game losing team, although there are other contenders for that accolade, such as LSU and Utah. But the fresh memory of a 48-0 rout of Oklahoma State was a result not to be missed.
- Illinois (7-1) – Only a three-point loss to Indiana in Game 2 of the season knocks the Illini off the undefeated list. This defense and running back Chase Brown are a great recipe for success.
- USL (6-2) — The Tigers have an interesting case. There are the two losses, but LSU has been looking good — and been fun to watch — lately. We’ll know more when the Tigers face Alabama on Saturday.
- Utah (6-2) – With the two losses but a decisive victory against USC, the Utes should end up right here.
- Penn State (6-2) – The blowout loss to Michigan wasn’t pretty, but the committee won’t punish the Nittany Lions too much for the Ohio State loss. No ranked wins, though.
- North Carolina (7-1) – The Tar Heels scored the final 28 points to edge Pitt for their seventh victory. This is another team that could be categorized into a few niches.
- Oklahoma State (6-2) – The Cowboys coughed up a chance to start in the CFP top 10 because of the nasty 48-0 blowout against K-State.
- Syracuse (6-2) — Back-to-back losses and injuries have hurt the Orange, but Syracuse has three wins against teams with winning records.
- Tulane (7-1) – The green wave must love seeing K-State crush Oklahoma State. That 17-10 win on the road in Manhattan, Kansas, is a major highlight.
- Wake Forest (6-2) – Expect to find a collection of ACC teams in the second half of the standings. Deacons must react after falling to Louisville by 27.
- NC status (6-2) – The Wolfpack may not be around very long without QB Devin Leary, but they will get a spot in the initial top 25.
- Kentucky (5-3) — Three losses in four games is not good, but the schedule becomes a little easier for a few weeks. Next, Georgia visits.
- Oregon State (6-2) — The Beavers have quietly put together a solid resume. They’ve won three straight, and the opener win over Boise State only got better.
- Texas (5-3) — There are so many other ways the committee could proceed here. Notre Dame, Liberty, Washington and Florida State, to name a few.
CFP🏆: College Football Playoff Rankings Broadcast Schedule
Notable College Football Playoff Ranking Questions
Could there be a surprise at #1?
Georgia is the defending national champion, crushed Oregon by 46 losses and just beat rival Florida by 22. That doesn’t mean UGA is a lock for No. 1. The State of L Ohio was finally challenged on Saturday, but the Buckeyes still won at Penn State by 13 to go along with a quick win over rising Notre Dame. But it’s Tennessee that could be the huge “shock” — either at No. 1 or No. 2. The Vols have wins over LSU (by 27), Alabama and Kentucky (by 38).
What will the order look like for undefeated teams?
There are six undefeated teams left. Alphabetically: Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, TCU and Tennessee. Depending on what you value the most, you can come up with a variety of different ratings for these six. But things often happen by themselves – Georgia vs. Tennessee this week will have a lot to talk about, as will Michigan vs. Ohio State in a few weeks.
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