5 things we learned from the College Football Playoff ranking

Steve Palazzolo breaks down what the committee's latest ranking means for the nation's top teams and conferences.

| 2 weeks ago
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

5 things we learned from the College Football Playoff ranking


After the craziest weekend of college football, the committee’s latest playoff release is upon us. Even with all of the losses at the top, the best teams are still in control of their playoff hopes, so perhaps last weekend wasn’t as meaningful as it was exciting. Still, the storylines abound if chaos strikes again. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Michigan’s loss to Iowa was better than Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh; both teams still control own destiny

Michigan and Clemson’s losses don’t seem to mean much in the long run though it’s insightful that the committee weighed Michigan’s loss at Iowa as “better” than Clemson’s loss at home against Pittsburgh. It doesn’t matter much as both teams still control their own destiny, though Michigan losing starting QB Wilton Speight to injury is going to hurt their chances. If they beat Ohio State in the finale, they’ll punch their ticket to the Big Ten Championship and they’ll be one win away from the playoff. Clemson has to get through Wake Forest and South Carolina before their conference title game, and a win there will put them into the playoff. While both Michigan and Clemson lost this weekend, both remain in the top four and primed for a playoff push.

  1. Big Ten Domination

With four of the top eight teams residing in the Big Ten, the conference sits in a position of power heading into the final weeks of the season. If the chips fall the right way, they may get two entries into the final four and at the very least, they’ll provide plenty of drama down the stretch. Ohio State versus Michigan is still primed to be the game of the year while the Big Ten Championship may determine whether or not the conference can get two teams into the playoff.

  1. Wisconsin and Penn State battling for a playoff spot?

If Ohio State beats Michigan, and Penn State and Wisconsin win out, we could be looking at an unexpected Big Ten Championship game that will also double as a play-in game for the College Football Playoff. Both teams are in a position of power, and if one team pulls it off, we may be debating the merits of a two-loss Penn State/Wisconsin winner against a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Washington.

  1. Washington vs. Louisville: Resume battle

While Louisville is ahead for now, Washington has bigger games remaining, including the Apple Cup against Washington State to determine the Pac-12 North and then a pending Pac-12 Championship game. Louisville has games against Houston and Kentucky, but with Clemson in line to get to the ACC Championship, they may run out of opportunities to build the playoff resume. This is one of the big stories down the stretch as both Louisville and Washington could be sitting with one loss apiece and deciding factors may come down to just how impressive each team in the final weeks of the season.

  1. Oklahoma is lurking, but what about West Virginia

Two-loss Oklahoma comes in at No. 9 while one-loss West Virginia is a few spots behind at No. 14, raising questions about what the committee is seeing from both teams. It essentially came down to a flashy offense for Oklahoma as they’ve rebounded from two early losses to go on a roll of late behind strong play from their skill position talent, led by Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield. West Virginia is seemingly being docked for playing a less exciting brand of football as they’re one of the few teams in the Big 12 to actually play defense, even shutting down Texas Tech’s offense that put up over 50 on Oklahoma. It doesn’t matter much as both teams are facing off this weekend, but it’s a curious decision to have them separated by five spots at this point.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Timo

    Nice article, well written and good breakdown. Now that Louisvile is done it helps to clear things up a bit. Washington I think will get the nod over the 2 loss big 10 options in Wisc and Penn State, although Mich St. could beat Penn St.