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Predicting What The Second College Football Playoff Rankings Will Look Like

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The craziest Saturday of the college football season was this past one. Three top 10 teams fell – No. 2 LSU to No. 4 Alabama, No. 7 Michigan State to Nebraska, No. 8 TCU to No. 14 Oklahoma State. The AP Poll and the Coaches Poll both featured a number of changes - will the College Football Playoff rankings?

Definitely.

The rankings, which were released for the first time last week, come out again tonight at 7 p.m. E.T. on ESPN. We know you probably can’t wait that long to see what they’ll look like, though. So, we’re here to help.

As we did last week, we’re predicting what we think the rankings will look like, based on the committee’s history. We did a decent job last week, getting nine of the 10 teams right, including the exact top three.

Here’s our predicted top 10:

10. Florida (8-1) 

The Gators, which were No. 10 in last week’s rankings, stay put. They could jump up a little bit, but Jim McElwain’s squad had an ugly game against a severely under-matched Vanderbilt team. So, they don’t gain any ground, getting passed by a couple teams behind it that had more impressive performances. Win out, though, and Florida could easily jump into the top four.

9. Stanford (8-1) 

The Cardinal were No. 11 in last week’s poll, but thanks to a couple losses by teams ahead of it – and a poor performance by No. 10 Florida – they jump two places. Stanford throttled Colorado, 42-10. David Shaw’s team is one of the most-intriguing one-loss teams remaining in the chase. Continuing to win won’t guarantee a playoff spot, but it’ll be tough to leave a 12-1 Stanford team out of the field. Few teams look better when they’re rolling than this one. 

8. Iowa (9-0)

Like the Gators, the Hawkeyes remain where they were last week. Iowa took care of business on the road, but didn’t look great doing so, beating Indiana, 35-27. It’s tough to envision a loss coming for this team in the regular season (at Nebraska, maybe). Unless a bunch of teams ahead of the Hawkeyes lose, they probably won’t gain much ground over the coming weeks, but a victory over a 12-0 Ohio State team in the Big Ten Championship Game could seal a playoff berth.

7. LSU (7-1)

The Tigers were tough to place. They just lost, on the road, to a team that will surely be in the committee’s top four, possibly as high as No. 2. So coming in at No. 5 or No. 6 (or maybe even No. 4) wouldn’t surprise us. But LSU wasn’t extremely competitive in a 14-point loss at Alabama, so we have the Tigers dropping five places to No. 7. They’re still in the hunt, though. They just don't control their own destiny anymore. 

6. Baylor (8-0)

Another team stays in the same place it was last week. The Bears played their first game without Seth Russell and it wasn’t all that pretty. Baylor got the win, though, beating Kansas State on the road, 31-24. True freshman Jarrett Stidham looked pretty good in his debut, so Art Briles’ squad has reason to be optimistic. This upcoming Saturday is a big one, with Oklahoma providing the Bears their first real test of the season.

5. Oklahoma State (9-0) 

We have the Cowboys making the biggest jump of the week, rising nine spots from No. 14 to No. 5. They deserve it, too. Oklahoma State had one of the most-impressive performances of the season on Saturday, demolishing then-No. 8 TCU, 49-29, in Stillwater. Mike Gundy’s team now has a signature win with opportunities for more. Contests against Baylor and Oklahoma loom large. Are the Cowboys now the favorite to win the Big 12? It's them or Baylor. 

Now, time for the College Football Playoff field.

Next: No. 4, ??? >>>

4. Notre Dame (8-1)

This might seem a little high for the Fighting Irish. We think they probably should be around No. 7 or No. 8. But, the committee had Notre Dame at No. 5 last week. And, one of the teams ahead of it – No. 2 LSU – lost. Without a clear choice to replace the Tigers, we think the committee will just bump up Brian Kelly’s squad into the No. 4 spot.

Notre Dame didn’t look great last week, but it got past Pittsburgh on the road, 42-30. With its lone loss of the season coming on the road to the committee’s No. 1 team, Clemson, the Fighting Irish’s resume is pretty solid.

">November 7, 2015

We’re skeptical of Notre Dame’s chances to actually make the field - a loss is likely coming at the end of the season to Stanford – but as of now, they’re in. That’s all that matters (for the moment, anyway).Next: No. 3, ??? >>>3. Ohio State (9-0)Another team stays put. The Buckeyes, who came in at No. 3 in the initial rankings, have a case to jump up to No. 2 with LSU losing. We expect the committee to replace the Tigers with the team they lost to, though.Ohio State doesn’t have anything to worry about, however. It’s pretty simple for the reigning national champions: win out and you’re in.

That should happen, too. There are obviously chances for losses – home vs. Michigan State in two weeks, on the road at Michigan to end the regular season, against possibly undefeated Iowa in the conference title game – but it’s hard to imagine this Ohio State team falling (before the playoff, at least).They get J.T. Barrett back this week and should improve to 10-0 with a win against Illinois.Next: No. 2, ??? >>>2. Alabama (8-1)Oh, Alabama. The Crimson Tide had by far the most-controversial ranking in the initial poll, coming in at No. 4 despite having a home loss to a team not in the committee’s top 10.There won’t be anything controversial about their ranking this week, though.Nick Saban’s team easily handled the No. 2 LSU on Saturday, defeating the Tigers, 30-16, and bottling up the Heisman Trophy frontrunner in the process. Alabama’s defense held Leonard Fournette to 31 yards on 19 carries.

">November 8, 2015

Alabama now controls its own destiny, too. With Ole Miss losing to Arkansas, the Crimson Tide will win the SEC West if they win out. That’s a probable scenario, considering Alabama only has Mississippi State, Charleston Southern and Auburn left on the schedule.

Next: No. 1, ??? >>>

1. Clemson (9-0)

Dabo Swinney’s squad will almost surely hold onto the top spot after its performance on Saturday. The Tigers did exactly what the No. 1 team in the country should do – overcame a sloppy start and got a nice win at home against a top-15 opponent.

Clemson beat Florida State, 23-13, at a rainy and windy Memorial Stadium. An argument could be made that the win was the most important of the Dabo Swinney era with the Tigers. Maybe it was, but Clemson has its sights set on much more significant wins - championship wins. 

The Tigers, like the two teams behind them – Alabama and Ohio State – control their own destiny.

Win out, and Clemson will be in the second-ever College Football Playoff, giving the Tigers a chance to win the program's first national championship since 1981.

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