How would the College Football Playoff committee rank teams this week? Which four schools would be in line to make the playoff?
We use analytics to make an educated guess on the committee rankings. The Associated Press poll provides a baseline for the Top 25 teams before the committee releases its first poll. My algorithm then adjusts teams based on the most recent opponent and margin of victory.
Teams that win keep their place unless they need overtime to beat Jacksonville State. Teams that lose drop, but not as much if they lose to a Top 10 team. You get the idea.
Let's look at the three most interesting movers from Week 6.
|Ed Feng's Top 25 College Football Standings|
|1||Ohio State||Won vs. Maryland, 49-28|
|2||Utah||Won vs. Cal, 30-24|
|3||Baylor||Won at Kansas, 66-7|
|4||TCU||Won at Kansas State, 52-45|
|5||Michigan State||Won at Rutgers, 31-24|
|6||Clemson||Won vs. Georgia Tech, 43-24|
|7||LSU||Won at South Carolina, 45-24|
|8||Alabama||Won vs. Arkansas, 27-14|
|9||Florida||Won at Missouri, 21-3|
|10||Michigan||Won vs. Northwestern, 38-0|
|12||Ole Miss||Won vs. New Mexico State, 52-3|
|13||Notre Dame||Won vs. Navy, 41-24|
|14||Florida State||Won vs. Miami, 29-24|
|17||Oklahoma State||Won at West Virginia, 33-26 OT|
|18||Iowa||Won vs. Illinois, 29-20|
|19||Toledo||Won vs. Kent State, 38-7|
|20||Oklahoma||Lost at Texas, 24-17|
|21||Boise State||Won at Colorado State, 41-10|
|22||Houston||Won vs. SMU, 49-28|
|23||Northwestern||Lost at Michigan, 38-0|
|24||USC||Lost vs. Washington, 17-12|
|25||Cal||Lost at Utah, 30-24|
|Ed Feng, ESPN|
Michigan continues to move up the rankings
Michigan's defense excelled again in a 38-0 thumping of Northwestern. The win moves the Wolverines up to 10th in the rankings.
It's been interesting to watch Jim Harbaugh improve Michigan in all phases of the game.
The defense was good last season, but coordinator D.J. Durkin has elevated this unit to a new level. It has not allowed a point in three consecutive games. However, this weekend's shutout shouldn't be too much of a surprise, as my numbers pegged Northwestern's offense worse than Maryland, the team Michigan shut out last weekend.
On special teams, Michigan was an embarrassment last year, even allowing Utah to return a punt for a touchdown against 10 defenders. This year, Harbaugh brought in John Baxter to coach special teams, and this unit delivered a touchdown of its own against Northwestern on Jehu Chesson's kickoff return. In addition, the unit has come close to blocking numerous kicks.
While the offense has also improved from last season, it has been unspectacular. However, quarterback Jake Rudock didn't turn the ball over against Northwestern, and Michigan might be an elite team if he can consistently complete the deep pass.
Can Michigan make the playoff? It can make a strong case with a win over Michigan State next Saturday.
Big 12 chaos behind Baylor
Baylor looks strong at the top of the Big 12, as it essentially had a week off in crushing Kansas, 66-7. But the rest of the Big 12 is a mess.
TCU needed another late comeback to beat Kansas State. Its defense allowed 45 points to the Wildcats and doesn't seem to be surviving the rash of season-ending injuries.
Oklahoma looked like a dark-horse contender for the Big 12 after a road victory over SEC foe Tennessee a month ago. Then, it inexplicably lost to Texas as a 16-point favorite.
West Virginia was a five-point favorite to get its first conference win against Oklahoma State. But Oklahoma State pulled off the upset and is now an under-the-radar conference contender at 3-0.
The odds seem stacked in Baylor's favor. It had the best odds to make the playoff last week, and the team's likelihood should increase this coming week.
USC still dangerous despite loss to Washington
Washington traveled to Los Angeles on Thursday night and delivered a stunning 17-12 loss to USC. The game dropped the Trojans to 24th in the rankings.
However, don't count out USC just yet. The Trojans gained more yards than Washington but couldn't overcome a 1-of-13 third-down-conversion rate.
In addition to these projected committee rankings, I also calculate ensemble rankings that measure the objective strength of teams and drive the Bleacher Report playoff probabilities. USC is 10th in these rankings, the second Pac-12 school behind Stanford. USC gets Utah and UCLA at home later this season, which makes it a threat to win the South despite two losses.