The 2015 college football season has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride.
Some teams you initially thought were great have failed to impress. Other squads have come out of nowhere to prove they deserve to be considered among the best teams in the country. In a way, it’s this sort of unpredictability that makes the sport so much fun. And we have a feeling things are only about to get crazier.
On Tuesday, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee unveiled the season’s first rankings for what will be the second-ever College Football Playoff. Granted, this is nothing more than an initial look at how the teams stack up, but never the less, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth dissecting. After all, considering how up and down the 2015 season has been already, we have no doubt the rankings will change as the rest of the year’s games play out.
Therefore, since the information is out there, we feel it’s our obligation to break it all down. With that, based on the first College Football Playoff rankings of the year, here’s a look at the top seven teams in the country.
7. Michigan State
The Michigan State Spartans may be undefeated (8-0) and ranked No. 6 in the AP Top 25, but as far as the newly released College Football Playoff rankings are concerned, Mark Dantonio’s group will have to settle for the No. 7 spot. Considering this team is No. 19 in the ESPN Power Football Index and has been up and down for much of the season, we’re not that surprised by this placement. Of course, a win over the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes could certainly change things.
Baylor‘s position as one of the first two teams out of the playoff may be the most shocking aspect of these initial rankings. The Bears are 7-0 on the year, No. 2 in the AP poll, and hold the No. 1 spot in the ESPN Power Football Index. Not only that, but this team is putting up 61.1 points per game and most certainly passes the eye test. If there’s a knock on Baylor, it’s probably the team’s uninspiring strength of record — No. 14 in the Football Power Index — courtesy of a weak strength of schedule.
5. Notre Dame
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have one loss on the year, but as you’ll see soon enough, it’s definitely considered a “good loss.” Aside from that, Brian Kelly’s squad has a 7-1 record, is No. 8 in the AP poll, and No. 9 in the Football Power Index. We have to believe the Irish got some love on account of it’s strength of schedule, considered the fifth best in the country.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are a perfect example how you don’t have to be undefeated to earn a place in the College Football Playoff. The Tide may be 7-1 on the year and hold the No. 7 spot in the latest AP poll, but sometimes metrics aren’t enough to determine the overall quality of a team. According to the Football Power Index, Nick Saban‘s squad has the No. 2 ranked strength of record. Clearly the committee is placing a ton of merit in that. After watching the Alabama Crimson Tide play all season, we have no problem seeing them in the top 4 of these initial rankings.
3. Ohio State
The Ohio State Buckeyes were supposed to steamroll through the competition in 2015. So far this season, the defending national champions, despite what their record would suggest, have been far from perfect. Still, the Buckeyes are 8-0, the No. 1 ranked team in the AP Top 25, and hold the No. 4 position in the Football Power Index. Unless Urban Meyer and company suffer a loss, it’ll be hard to keep them out of the College Football Playoff.
The LSU Tigers have been scary good so far this 2015 season. They’re 7-0, ranked No. 4 in the AP poll, and hold the third best strength of record in the country. If running back Leonard Fournette can continue to dominate the competition, and the Tigers can get past the Alabama Crimson Tide in their upcoming SEC clash on November 7, we believe LSU will most certainly finish in the top 4 of the final College Football Playoff rankings.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a team playing better in 2015 than the Clemson Tigers. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee seemed to feel the same way.
Clemson is 8-0 on the year, ranked No. 3 in the AP poll and, thanks to a big-time victory over Notre Dame, have the No. 1 strength of record in college football. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is playing like a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy, and the Tigers’ defense is bringing the goods on a weekly basis. While you never know how the rest of the season is going to play out, as of right now, Clemson is more than deserving of the No. 1 position in the initial College Football Playoff rankings.