College Football Playoff rankings prediction: Top four is easy, but rest of order more complicated

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The final decision is now in the hands of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. It won’t be difficult to break into this year’s top four.

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It will be Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Cincinnati, possibly in that order, after Saturday’s run of the conference championships eased a playoff chase that seemed destined for chaos as recently as late November.

More difficult choices will come in filling the new year’s slate of six games, influenced by how the committee places teams outside the top four.

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Which is in:The college football playoff field takes shape

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Bowl estimate:Will Alabama or Michigan be the No. 1 seed?

Here’s what the top of the final playoff rankings should look like:

1. Alabama (12-1)

The Crimson Tide from Georgia would take the top spot after losing 41-24 to the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game. This win reflects our hopes yet again of what to expect in the playoffs and should the Crimson Tide become the clubhouse favorite to take home another championship under coach Nick Saban.

2. Michigan (12-1)

Michigan will have a case for No. 1, but don’t forget how the committee will go about seeding this top four. Keeping Alabama at No. 2 would demand that Georgia move to No. 4 to avoid a rematch in the semi-finals. It is possible but not possible; The committee would still like to reward the SEC’s one-loss winner, especially after locking in the strongest win by any team this season.

3. Georgia (12-1)

The chorus of calls for JT Daniels at quarterback certainly won’t be any quieter as Stetson Bennett averaged 7.1 yards per throw and bounced two interceptions at the Bulldogs’ loss. Is it too late to make a move? After rolling with Bennett through the regular season, it seems very unlikely that Kirby Smart changes at this point. But if Daniels is healthy, it is by no means off the table.

4. Cincinnati (13-0)

It was 14-13 at halftime when Cincinnati pulled away from Houston with three quick touchdowns, the second being gifted to the Bearcats via an interception deep in his field by Houston quarterback Clayton Tune. The 35–20 win saw Cincinnati finish in the top four as an easy decision for the selection committee.

5. Notre Dame (11-1)

The Fighting Irish came close but missed their third playoff berth in four years. That comes down to a loss to Miss Cincinnati, which raised the Bearcats’ hopes at Notre Dame’s expense. The Irish were running in November and are excited by the decision to name Marcus Freeman as the next head coach, will replace Brian Kelly, and will be a formidable opponent in the New Year’s Six Bowl.

6. Boiler (11-2)

Baylor’s conference championship in the Power Five is the most unexpected, dwarfing the surprise at Pittsburgh’s victory in the ACC. Like many teams, the Bears struggled through the pandemic season, but rallied behind second-year coach Dave Aranda, whose steadfast consistency has clearly affected a team that serves as Oklahoma State’s second-half charge. I was never broken.

7. Ohio State (10-2)

Michigan’s win would send Ohio State back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2018 season. The Buckeyes would be preferred against Utah, but Utes’ playing style represented an Achilles heel for a defense that ended in late November under the onslaught of Wolverine’s ongoing plays in a rivalry victory.

8. Ole Miss (10-2)

One of the top regular seasons in recent program history would lead to a spot in New Year’s Six. It will be the last ride for star quarterback Matt Coral, a potential Heisman Trophy finalist who has already announced it will be his final season at Oxford. But it won’t be the end of the road for Coach Lane Kiffin, who was signed a contract extension on Saturday Which puts him out of the race for other Power Five opportunities.

9. Oklahoma State (11-2)

No team in playoff history had come so close to the semifinals that they came so rarely – in the Cowboys’ case, a the difference in inches, The fourth-down game will be one that is replayed all the offseason, but the big game can come a snap earlier: Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders had a teammate open in the end zone but was late with a throw. , thereby allowing the closure of a boiler defender. Break the gap and pass in space.

10. Michigan State (10-2)

Having a shot at the Big Ten Championship slip in November could be a bit disappointing. It’s still a hugely successful regular season for the Spartans and second-year coach Mel Tucker, who withdrew a $95 million contract to quickly reverse the program’s recent slide.

11. Utah (10-3)

Watch the Utes jump six places after taking down Oregon for the second time in three weeks. Friday night’s 38-7 win saw Utah secure the program’s first Pac-12 championship since joining the conference and send the program to the Rose Bowl for the first time. Getting there after a brutal September will go down as one of the notable achievements of coach Kyle Whittingham’s career.

12. Pittsburgh (11-2)

Pittsburgh was an independent for the first century of its existence, which helps explain why it is just the third conference championship in the program’s history. (It’s also the first unshared win; teams won via tiebreakers in 2004 and 2010.) Beating the Wake Forest Panthers to claim the ACC would push the Panthers a few places in the final playoff rankings and quarterback Kenny Pickett. Heisman to help him earn his share of the votes.

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