I’ll cop to being among those who worried about the College Football Playoff damaging the regular season. Two years into the system, I feel rather foolish.
Now, I still have reservations about the slippery expansion slope and will gladly cite the FCS Playoffs growth from 16 to 20 to 24 teams in the last six years. But in the interim, the Playoff contributes to a March Madness feel in November.
Week 12 had that opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament aura to it, right down to Cinderellas impacting the title landscape. Florida Atlantic may not have completed the upset of SEC East champion Florida, but in forcing overtime, the Owls may have greatly altered the complexion of this week’s Top 10.
Tuesday’s ranking reveal may well provide the most telling peek behind the curtain yet. The committee has seemingly strove to reward quality over quantity. Ergo, I’m anticipating one-loss Florida, No. 8 last week, will fall out of the Top 10 after its second ugly win this month.
The committee’s handling of Ohio State intrigues me. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 3 and lost to a quality opponent with reasonable stake to a top-four spot this week. However, I’m projecting the Buckeyes to drop all the way out of the Top 10.
Michigan State was Ohio State’s first high-quality opponent and the Buckeyes’ time to prove worthy of their ranking. A perfect record and last season’s success were all that kept Ohio State in a coveted spot previously, which the new ranking should reflect.
A win over Michigan gives the Buckeyes the signature victory they sorely need, and Penn State upsetting Michigan State sends the defending national champions to the Big Ten Championship Game. However, there are just too many factors working against Ohio State now to project it as a viable contender.
Those are the narrow limbs on which I’m going out this week for teams dropping. For potentially high-risers, one-loss Navy’s defeat of Houston and Oregon’s blowout of USC could vault both into spots No. 13 and No. 14. That would be a bitter pill for one-loss North Carolina to swallow, but the Tar Heels are looking at the longest Playoff odds of any Power Five title contender.
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