Major Wins and Losses in Week 13 Shape Rankings
One change at the top of the College Football Playoff Rankings heading into conference championship weekend. Michigan fell short of earning entry into the CFB Playoff when the Wolverines were whacked by Ohio State 62-39 in Columbus, Ohio.
Washington State and LSU also fell out of the Top-10 with losses in Week 13. Washington beat Washington State 28-15 in the Apple Cup.
Texas A&M and LSU engaged in a high scoring affair that set a NCAAF scoring record, but had numerous questionable calls by the officials in a controversial ending to regulation. That led to an epic, 7-overtime, back-and-forth thriller which ended with Texas A&M coverting the last 2-point conversion to win 74-72.
Meanwhile, the top-3 teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings remained intact and will move on to the CFB Playoff regardless of outcomes in this week’s conference championship games.
Alabama led Auburn 17-14 at halftime in the Iron Bowl before trampling the Tigers 52-21 to win and cover the big point spread (+24.5). Clemson also rolled over rival South Carolina in a non-covering 56-35 win. Notre Dame was in a tight contest at USC and the Irish trailed 10-7 at halftime. Notre Dame was bet up to a 14-point favorite at kickoff, and secured their spot in the CFB Playoff with a 24-17 win.
Georgia will move up to No. 4 with a 45-21 win over in-state rival Georgia Tech. Oklahoma won a wild game at West Virginia 59-56 to stay in the close chase with Georgia and the Sooners will play Texas in the Big 12 Championship game looking to gain redemption for their only loss of the season against Texas. Oklahoma is a 7.5-point favorite over Texas.
Central Florida (UCF) remained undefeated with a 38-10 win over South Florida, but the Knights lost their star quarterback McKenzie Milton to a severe leg injury.
Ohio State also moved up with their huge and decisive win over rival Michigan 62-39. A win over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game combined with a Georgia loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship and an Oklahoma loss to Texas in the Big 12 Championship may get Ohio State into the CFB Playoff.
The Impact of NCAAF Championship Week
As the final week of action takes place during championship week, the 13 members of the CFP playoff committee will have their hands full deciding on what to do with the last spot. They’ll consider championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and the outcomes against common opponents first and foremost. The final pairings for the College Football Playoff Rankings are announced Dec. 2, and will be heavily informed by what happens to the following teams:
Alabama is a 13-point favorite over Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Alabama ranks top-10 in yards per play on both offense and defense. The Crimson Tide also rank No. 1 in the country in scoring margin at +35.2 points per game.
Clemson is a -26.5 point favorite over Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship game. Clemson is No. 2 in the country in scoring margin at +31.7 points per game and the Tigers’ strength of schedule is 48th according to Sagarin, which is still slightly tougher than Alabama (55th).
Note Dame does not play in a conference championship, but have done more than enough to secure on of the top spots in the College Football Playoff Rankings alongside Alabama and Clemson. Notre Dame has beaten opponents by +16.6 points per game this season with a Sagarin strength of schedule of 44th.
Georgia will join Alabama in the CFB Playoff if they can upset the Tide in the SEC Championship game. A loss could still get them in with some help, and Georgia (28th) does have the toughest rated strength of schedule of all the undefeated, or one-loss teams, in the country. The Bulldogs’ +22.9 scoring margin is the best of all the one-loss teams.
Oklahoma and Ohio State are a toss-up right now and both teams have very suspect defenses as the Sooners allow 6.01 yards per play while the Buckeyes give up 5.84 on average. Both teams have outscored opponents by identical +17.5 point margins, but Oklahoma has the strongest yards-per-play offense in the country at 8.92.
Central Florida (UCF) gets credit again for a second-straight undefeated season, and the Knights’ +23.6 scoring margin is better than all teams not named Alabama or Clemson.
The remaining teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings to be determined include:
Texas (9-3), Penn State (9-3), Washington (9-3), Washington State (10-2), West Virginia (8-3), Utah (9-3), Mississippi State (8-4), Army (9-2), Syracuse (9-3), Kentucky (9-3), Northwestern (8-4), Boise State (10-2), Utah State (10-2), Fresno State (10-2), NC State (8-3).
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.