August 9, 2022

Five teams benefiting from initial Playoff rankings

Ohio State plays Indiana at Ohio stadium on Saturday, November 21, 2020. Photo courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

The committee’s first rankings were released Tuesday and raised eyebrows all across the country.

Some teams received some love, while others were snubbed. With one-loss teams ahead of undefeated ones, means chaos has just begun. It just gives fans more reasons for a Playoff expansion. Certain teams might not have a shot at postseason glory, regardless if they finish undefeated.

However, other teams are a lock in, just as they run the table from this point moving forward. Once the dust settles everything will become clearer, but for now it’s very cloudy with a lot of football left to be played. Here are the five teams that came out on the positive side of the first rankings.

Oregon, (7-1): The Ducks were arguably the biggest surprise of the committee’s first release. Landing at No. 4 was a statement to the rest of the College Football world that head-to-head matchups matter. Oregon’s September victory over Ohio State still holds a lot of weight. Although the Ducks control their own destiny, they’re not good enough to overlook any of the four remaining games. Washington could play spoilers at home. Washington State has the offense to give Oregon’s defense fits, but it’s operating with an interim coach. The road clash at Utah will likely be Oregon’s biggest threat, considering Kyle Whittingham has won six-straight at home. Rival Oregon State won last year’s contest. The Beavers are improved and one win away from bowl eligibility. There’s no denying it’s a tough November for the Ducks.

Michigan (7-1): It shocked many when the Wolverines landed at No. 7. After all, Michigan was outscored 23-10 in the second half by Michigan State. Wisconsin is the only team ranked in the committee’s top-25 that Michigan has defeated. Regardless, the Wolverines are in a great position, being ahead of two undefeated Power Five teams. If Jim Harbaugh’s boys run the table the rest of the way, they’ll be fine. That means beating Ohio State in the Big House for the first time since 2011. It should boost Michigan ahead of Cincinnati, into the top-four. However, the Wolverines still need the Spartans to beat everyone on their schedule, except for maybe Ohio State. That would cause chaos in the Big Ten East, just like the Big 12 South in 2008. This year is the best chance for the Big Ten to have two teams in the Playoffs.

Wake Forest (8-0): The Demon Deacons finally received some love, being the only undefeated team in the ACC. It’s no mystery if Clemson had the same record, it would be in the top-four. However, landing at No. 9 means Wake Forest is the lowest-ranked unblemished Power Five squad, but there’s plenty of room to climb up the rankings over the next four games. Traveling to North Carolina will likely be a crazy shootout. NC State is currently ranked 19th by the committee, which should help Wake Forest’s strength of schedule. Clemson might be ranked when the two teams clash in Death Valley. Boston College should have a winning record when Wake Forest comes to town. Not to mention there’s the ACC Championship Game against a ranked opponent for the Demon Deacons. That proves Wake Forest is very much alive.

Ohio State (7-1): The Buckeyes are one of a few teams in the country that gets the benefit of the doubt. Like Alabama, Ohio State is very favorable in the committee’s eyes, because it has dominated its’ conference for over a decade. The Buckeyes are the second-highest ranked one-loss team. However, Ohio State is ahead of undefeated Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Wake Forest, and that’s a statement by the committee. The Buckeyes control their own destiny to postseason glory. Ryan Day will have his bunch ready over the next four contests. Although the Buckeyes lead the nation in points per game, expect those numbers to amplify now that the players know what’s at stake. The journey won’t be easy though. Nebraska has nothing to lose, Purdue is legit and the two Michigan schools will be ready.

Alabama (7-1): When Nick Saban’s team landed at No. 2 in the rankings, it was a statement to the rest of the College Football world. The committee knows Alabama has the best talent in the sport. The Crimson Tide will hold down that No. 2 spot as long as they run the table the rest of the way. Every game should be cake for Alabama, except for the road clash at Auburn. Bo Nix and the Tigers put up 48 points on the Crimson Tide the last time they visited the Plains. However, Alabama is getting stronger week by week and seems like it’s on a crash collision course with Georgia for that top spot on December 5. The Crimson Tide’s offense is lights out, but their achilles heel has been the defense. Jimbo Fisher exposed that. Still, Arkansas and Auburn will show everyone how much Alabama’s defense has improved.