Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to the unveiling of perhaps the greatest technological innovation of our time: THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF HOPE-O-METER! Over the course of the 2019 season, we will put our ultra-violet spectrum of college football emotion to the test, processing each weekend's scoreboard—and it's array of hopes, dreams, and delusions—to determine the state of the all-important CFP push. Here's where things stand as of today...
It's finally, officially, triumphantly here—the moment we've all been waiting for since the Bronze Age or, at the very least, September: The first official College Football Playoff rankings of the 2019 season. From here on in, Hope-O-Meter will be found on its new night and new time, following every College Football Playoff ranking reveal on Wednesday. After Week 1 (actually Week 10, we can barely keep it straight either), here's where things stand in the wild world of college football.
Mortal Lock - The B1G™ Ten
If you’re a conference stan and your chosen allegiance is the B1G™ Ten, then you’re probably pretty happy this morning. After the year’s first official College Football Playoff ranking, there are three clear paths to the CFP for the B1G™ Ten: Ohio State (#1) wins out. Penn State (#4) wins out. Minnesota (#17) wins out. Given their number one overall ranking, Ohio State might even get away with a narrow loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor on November 30th as long they look impressive against Penn State and whoever their B1G™ Ten championship opponent is (probably Minnesota). Speaking of Minnesota, their road is brutal. They get Penn State this weekend, followed by Iowa, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. But if they somehow survive that gauntlet and steal the B1G™ Ten Championship game, you’re looking at the least likely CFP participant yet. Sure, they’ll probably end up getting waxed by Alabama like Michigan State did back in 2016, but the fact remains: It’s gonna take some serious effort for the B1G™ Ten to screw this up.
Cautiously Optimistic - Clemson
The big headline of the night was the committee’s decision to bump undefeated defending national champs Clemson to the five spot, leaving them on the outside looking in. While that seems like a bad omen on paper, the committee put Clemson there because they fully expect to swap them into the top four for the loser of LSU-Alabama this weekend. There are only four spots and there wasn’t a fit for the Tigers this week, but rest assured there will be come next Tuesday. Add that to the fact Clemson are all but guaranteed to finish the season undefeated and might even get a top-20 scalp to boot (Wake Forest are ranked 19 after Tuesday night), and it’s hard to imagine a final four without Clemson.
Cautiously Pessimistic - Alabama
Make no mistake: If Alabama want to control their CFP fate, they HAVE to beat LSU on Saturday. With their initial rankings, the committee made it clear they don’t respect the Crimson Tide’s strength of schedule, at least thus far. A loss on their home turf on Saturday is going to make things very, very messy for the Sabanists, who could potentially drop past fellow SEC one-lossers Georgia. Unlike this hypothetical one-loss Bama, however, Georgia would still have an SEC title game shot to tempt the committee with. So don’t let the ranking fool you. It means nothing if Alabama (and a dinged-up Tua Tagovailoa) don’t get the W this weekend.
Fuggedaboutit - The Big XII
File this under things we didn’t think we’d be saying in Week 10: The PAC-12 is in better shape than the Big 12. After their shocking capitulation to Kansas State two weeks ago, Oklahoma is ranked ninth, behind both one-loss Utah and one-loss Oregon. Meanwhile, an undefeated Baylor squad didn’t even crack the top 10 after narrowly escaping West Virginia on Saturday. The two face off on November 16th. A win for Oklahoma might see them leapfrog the Utes and Ducks, but probably won’t be enough to jump Georgia or the loser of Ohio State-Penn State the following week. A win for Baylor means....what? They aren’t catapulting past Clemson into the top four, even if hell turns into a freaking hockey rink. It’s not curtains just yet, but given the initial order out of the gates, it’s tough to see a path for the Big 12.