College football is known for the fact that anything — seriously anything — can happen. Just when a team has every ounce of momentum possible, an underdog hungry for an upset comes in and destroys the entire landscape. It happens every season. Of course, 2015 is no different.
Week 10 of the season saw some huge games between the likes of TCU versus Oklahoma State and LSU versus Alabama. While those contests provided plenty of headline-worthy action, the “other” games on the schedule also created plenty of intrigue. Overall, multiple top-10 teams lost over the weekend, and a few others barely escaped defeat, leaving us to ask: How will it all affect the new College Football Playoff rankings? With the new info coming out tonight, here are three big things that will change the poll’s layout.
Oklahoma State leads a group of teams moving up
After their dominating performance over TCU, the Cowboys just might be the trendy national champion pick heading into Week 11. Many people realized that Oklahoma State’s offense was pretty good under quarterback Mason Rudolph, but what about their defense?
In a league dominated by high-powered offenses, it’s clear that the Cowboys are the class of the Big 12 defensively. They picked off Heisman candidate, Trevone Boykin, four times, which catapulted the team to victory. With that, it would be shocking not to see Oklahoma State move into the top five or six this week (which they did in the new AP Poll).
Other teams that should move into the top 10 include the Stanford Cardinal, who were ranked just outside the top 10 last week. The Cardinal have played mostly dominant football since losing in Week 1. Their case as a potential one-loss league champion is intriguing, especially when you consider that if they win, they will have beaten the highly-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. That’s a story for another day though. Stanford, for now, deserves to be in the top 10.
Alabama ascends to No. 2
The SEC is known for getting love from the voters, and that love should show its true colors once again when the new rankings come out. The committee is going to see Alabama’s win over LSU as the biggest win by any team this season.
Sure, it was a nice win, but it could get more notice than it’s worth, especially when you consider the fact that the Crimson Tide have already lost once this season (a loss that keeps looking worse as the weeks go on). Still, it would be no surprise to see Alabama jump to No. 2 this week, even if an unbeaten defending national champion is in their way.
Ohio State is undefeated, but with some questionable performances earlier this season and a lack of big wins, the Buckeyes could very well drop to No. 3 in the new rankings. It might not last, as OSU has multiple opportunities to pick up some resume boosters later this season against the likes of Michigan and Michigan State. In reality, it doesn’t really matter where you rank inside the top four, as long as you are in the top four (Ohio State proved that last season). Still, the love for the SEC will prevail over the unbeaten Buckeyes, for this week at least.
The Big 12 still remains outside of the top four
It’s starting to become the common theme of the College Football Playoff rankings; the Big 12 gets little-to-no respect from the voters. Last week, despite holding three unbeaten teams within the conference, the Big 12 was left entirely out of the top four. Last season, despite having two worthy candidates, the league was excluded from the four-team tournament. Going into Week 11, that story isn’t likely to change.
Even though teams like Notre Dame and Alabama sit there with one loss, those schools will still rank ahead of unbeaten Oklahoma State and Baylor. Yes, the Cowboys had a big win in Week 10, as we mentioned. Yes, Baylor has looked great for the most part this season. Still, the lack of schedule strength for both of those teams (and throughout the entire conference really) will continue to hurt the Big 12 — for now at least.
Now, if Oklahoma State is able to knock off ranked opponents in Oklahoma and Baylor, the Cowboys should be in the top four by season’s end. Same for Baylor if they win against the Sooners and OK State.
With that, the top four this week will be No. 1, Clemson; No. 2, Alabama; No. 3, Ohio State; and No. 4, Notre Dame. Of course, there is still much to be decided in the final weeks of the regular season and the conference championship week, so this could (and likely will) look much different this time next month. Only time will tell.
All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.go.com.