Midway through November, speculations on the College Football Playoff are starting to shape up

It’s Week 11 in college football, and this past weekend there was a reshuffling of rankings that was never seen before. Not a single ranking in the Top 25 stayed the same, and the biggest jump to date in the College Football Playoff era as Minnesota leaped from #17 to #8 with their victory over previously-ranked number #4 Penn State.

Here are the top teams:

#1 LSU

Louisiana State University is ranked number one for the first time since 2007. With their 46-41 victory over Alabama, the Tigers jumped from second to first in the national playoff rankings. The victory over Alabama now puts the Crimson Tide out of the top four and in jeopardy of not making the playoffs, which would be the first time they were out since the inception of the College Football Playoffs (CFP) in 2014.  

Led by Heisman hopeful Joe Burrow, LSU looks like they will be able to hold their top spot if they can win out. LSU has always been a top team stacked with talent, but they have recently missed the mark due to past quarterback play. However, with Burrow now leading the Heisman race with 3,198 yards passing and 33 touchdowns, it seems the stars have aligned for the Tigers the 2019-20 season.

 #2 Ohio State

Ohio State is playing complete team football, led by one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, Justin Fields. Ohio State is the top team in the Big 10 with Penn State’s loss to Minnesota. Their defense is led by pass rusher Chase Young who is the top prospect in college football for next year’s NFL draft. Young is one of the top picks to win this year’s Heisman Trophy as well, but his junior season has come to a halt after he was accused of an NCAA violation. 

Last season, Young accepted a loan from a family friend to be able to pay for his girlfriend’s flight out to California to see him play in the Rose Bowl. Young was forthright and compliant with the NCAA, but he will be suspended for two games (one of which he has already sat out). Clearly this dilemma is affecting his Heisman race ranking, as he could potentially be the first defensive player to win the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997. Ohio State’s talented roster will be able to handle the two-game suspension. Look for the return of Young to fire up the Buckeyes just in time for their game against Penn State.

 #3 Clemson    

The reigning national champions are 10-0 on the season but have fallen to number three due to close games against lower opponents. Earlier in the season, the Clemson Tigers barely beat unranked Syracuse by a three-point margin. The week after that, Clemson had an unconvincing win against Georgia Tech 24-10, and they suffered a massive scare against conference rival University of North Carolina, as the Tigers edged out a tough win 21-20. 

They have still won all their games, but many have questioned if this is still the dominant team we have witnessed over the past few years. It is hard to win, especially at their level of college football, so their 10-0 record still holds value keeping Clemson third as they are in the hunt for another National Championship.

 #4 Georgia

The top three spots are legitimate teams, and each deserves to be there, but this number four spot is up for debate as to who will claim the final spot in the CFP. Right now, the CFP Committee has raked the 8-1 Georgia Bulldogs as the number four seed. Alabama, also with one loss, sits at #5, Oregon is #six, Utah is #7, and the undefeated Minnesota squad is #8. Many believe it should be Minnesota sitting at four since they are undefeated and coming off a huge win against Penn State who was ranked in the top four before their game.

That said, Georgia at number four is a big question mark. They were recently beat by unranked South Carolina, which seemed like a loss they could not come back from. At least Oregon has one loss against a highly ranked team in Auburn. Utah has a bad loss against unranked USC. If Minnesota wins out, they will be given respect and should find themselves in the CFB Playoff at the number four spot.

The Dark Horses  

How does Oregon find themselves leapfrogging Georgia and Alabama into the playoff? First, Minnesota would have to lose a game. Then Georgia would need to drop their game against Auburn who has been playing strong football all year. But what’s going to be difficult is jumping Alabama, since they are a perennial powerhouse, and the committee normally tries to do whatever they can to get the Tide into the playoffs. I do not see Alabama losing another game this season, so if Oregon and Alabama both win out, it is going to be tough for Oregon to squeeze in.

What about undefeated Baylor? Baylor sits at 9-0 and is given little to no respect in the rankings. They currently are ranked #13, which is the lowest ranking in CFB history of an undefeated power five team. If Baylor wins out, look for them to play in one of the New Year’s Six Bowl Games, but it would take a miracle for them to get into the top four based on how the committee currently views them.  

The CFB Playoff bracket will be decided in the next month or so, and it will be a tight race for the number four spot in a chance to play in the National Championship.