1st Ever College Football Playoff Rankings


Last night the College Football Playoff selection committee released their first ever rankings. This is the first of 7 rankings that the committee will release over the remainder of the 2014 college football season. While this week’s rankings will have no impact on future rankings, it is our first glimpse into how the committee thinks and how big of a change the new ranking system is from the BCS.

Here is how the CFP selection committee ranked the top 10:

  1. Mississippi State 7-0
  2. Florida State 7-0
  3. Auburn 6-1
  4. Ole Miss 7-1
  5. Oregon 7-1
  6. Alabama 7-1
  7. TCU 6-1
  8. Michigan State 7-1
  9. Kansas State 6-1
  10. Notre Dame 6-1

Key takeaways:

Wins are more important than losses

17 of the top 25 teams in the 1st CFP Rankings have 1 loss. Often in the BCS system, the key factor in differentiating these teams would have been the quality and timing of their loss. Losing early in the BCS gave teams a far better chance of reaching the National Championship than losing later in the year. We can see clearly that, that has less of an impact on the CFP rankings.

In terms of quality of loss we can look at Notre Dame to see how the College Football Playoff puts a premium on wins, not losses. Notre Dame lost on the road against the #2 ranked Florida State Seminoles in dramatic and controversial fashion. But they find themselves ranked behind 7 other 1 loss teams. Of those 7 teams, only Auburn has a case for a better loss on the season. What sets Notre Dame back is the fact that none of their 6 wins came against teams currently ranked in the CFP rankings. Their loss may be better on paper than Ole Miss,  or Alabama, but their wins simply don’t compare.

When thinking about timing of losses, we can look at Ole Miss. The Rebels lost this past weekend on the road but were still awarded a top 4 position. They gained that spot over teams like Oregon, Michigan State, and Kansas State that all lost earlier in the season. What sets Ole Miss apart is their strength of schedule and their win against #6 ranked Alabama. Quality wins are at a premium in the CFP and it will be interesting to see how that affects scheduling in the coming seasons.

Conferences? Who Cares

When the College Football Playoff was being conceived some people argued that the playoff should be between the conference champions of 4 of the power 5 conferences. This factor was not included into the current system and never before has it been more apparent. 3 of the top 4 teams and 4 of the top 10 teams in the initial CFP rankings are from the SEC. More specifically, all 4 of those teams represent the SEC West Division. When the final CFP rankings are released on December 7th, we can be sure that the top 4 teams in the rankings were chosen based on who the committee believed were the best teams in the country, even if all 4 of them are from the same division.

What this means for the rest of the season

The college football season is far from over and there will surely be more upsets, and new story lines to emerge. With that in mind, here are some key games that will pave the road to the College Football Playoff.

Florida State at Louisville – October 30th, 2014 – $91

Auburn at Ole Miss – November 1st, 2014 – $114

Oregon at Utah – November 1st, 2014 – $137

Kansas State at TCU – November 8th, 2014 – $60

Michigan State at Ohio State – November 8th, 2014 – $142

Mississippi State at Alabama – November 15th, 2014 – $150

Auburn at Alabama – November 29th, 2014 – $400

Mississippi State at Ole Miss – November 29th, 2014 – $120