This week is the first week of the College Football Playoff Rankings. I feel the committee has done an admirable job with the initial rankings. However, even if they messed it up, things will still shake out over the next month. Basically, the rankings we see today just provide talking points for fans and the media. I agree that based on how the season has gone, Georgia should be ranked number one. You might question why they are ahead of Alabama, but the best team Bama has played to date is a 5-3 Texas A&M. Notre Dame settles in at number three and deservedly so. Their only blemish is a one point loss to Georgia.
Where the debate can start is sitting at number four with Clemson. They lost to a very average Syracuse team. I understand that their QB was hurt that game, so we will give them a pass for now. I am happy to see Oklahoma ahead of Ohio State since they put a beat down on them in Columbus. Fact of the matter is that if Penn State didn’t go into protection mode last week in the second half, OSU would have two losses. Speaking of PSU, they are still in it. A one point loss in Columbus after dominating most of the game goes down as an acceptable blemish. What we all have to understand is that there are quite a few key games happening over the next three weeks that will shake most of this out.
If you think your team is a few spots lower than they should be, just think back a few years ago to 2014 when OSU won the title. The Buckeyes checked in at number sixteen in the first week of the CFP rankings that year. There is a lot of hoopla that circles around these rankings, but just like Russian investigations, we have to wait until teams show up with solid evidence of their worth before we start making firm decisions on who should end up where. My picks this week involve some teams that could give themselves a real boost with a win or totally destroy their chances of being playoff-bound with a critical loss.
NC State +7.5 vs. Clemson – The Tigers come in ranked #4 in the CFP Rankings. The Wolfpack come off a tough loss at Notre Dame. An awkward Pick 6 and their top running back getting hurt after only 2 carries did them in. Nyheim Hines is back at full strength and the game is in Raleigh in front of a raucous crowd hungry to get into the ACC Championship Game. I am calling for an upset here. This time, the kicker nails it.
NC State 31 Clemson 30
Oklahoma State -2.5 vs. Oklahoma – The total is 76.5. I will be shocked if this stays under 85. Two gunslingers getting after it. I think the squares will be salivating to bet on the Sooners. Mason Rudolph outplays Baker Mayfield when it counts.
Oklahoma State 45 Oklahoma 42
Washington -17 vs. Oregon – Washington sits at #12. Keep an eye on this team, especially if some other higher ranked teams start to stumble. Chris Peterson will emphasize the need to pound the remaining opponents to impress the committee in an attempt to climb the rankings. In order to do so, Jake Browning needs to ramp up his production. It starts now.
Washington 35 Oregon 17
Alabama -21 vs. LSU – Bama’s toughest test this year. If Ed Orgeron could somehow pull a rabbit out of his hat and win this one, it would secure his stay in Baton Rouge. Problem is that Bama will be angry they aren’t sitting atop the rankings. Look for a steamroll here.
Alabama 38 LSU 13
Penn State -9 at Michigan State – I am going with the all-around better team here. Barkley needs a good game running the ball and I think he gets it done in Lansing. Penn State blew it last week and plans to run the table the rest of the year to make a run at the Playoff. It’s now or never time to impress the committee.
Penn State 31 Michigan State 17
USC -7.5 vs. Arizona – Can the Trojans contain Khalil Tate? Nope. But will the Wildcats stop a heating up Sam Darnold? Nope. USC’s defense sucks less. Ronald Jones III runs wild and Darnold throws for 4 scores.
USC 42 Arizona 34
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