College Football Rankings 2018: Week 14 NCAA Playoff Championship Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) carries the ball as Auburn linebacker Darrell Williams (49) tries to tackle him during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The penultimate College Football Playoff rankings release gave us a glimpse into what decisions the selection committee will make in its final deliberation Sunday. 

Georgia predictably moved up to No. 4 after Michigan's loss to Ohio State, while Oklahoma and Ohio State sit at No. 5 and No. 6. 

Underneath the playoff contenders in the poll, the SEC received a boost with Florida inching up to No. 9 and LSU landing in the final position in the top 10. 

The positioning of Florida and LSU may have sealed the unfortunate fate of Washington State, who at No. 13 is ranked behind four three-loss teams and could miss out on a New Year's Six game. 

How much the committee values the strength of the SEC could play a factor in deciding the four playoff teams if certain scenarios occur during conference championship weekend. 


College Football Playoff Rankings

1. Alabama (12-0)

2. Clemson (12-0) 

3. Notre Dame (12-0) 

4. Georgia (11-1) 

5. Oklahoma (11-1) 

6. Ohio State (11-1) 

7. Michigan (10-2) 

8. UCF (11-0) 

9. Florida (9-3) 

10. LSU (9-3) 

11. Washington (9-3) 

12. Penn State (9-3) 

13. Washington State (10-2) 

14. Texas (9-3) 

15. Kentucky (9-3) 

16. West Virginia (8-3) 

17. Utah (9-3) 

18. Mississippi State (8-4) 

19. Texas A&M (8-4) 

20. Syracuse (9-3) 

21. Northwestern (8-4) 

22. Boise State (10-2) 

23. Iowa State (7-4) 

24. Missouri (8-4) 

25. Fresno State (10-2) 


Playoff Predictions

Alabama Gets Into Playoff With A Win or Loss

The nightmare scenario for everyone outside the SEC will come true with a Georgia victory over Alabama in the SEC Championship. 

Based off how much the committee values the SEC, undefeated Alabama will end up in the playoff, even if it drops its first game of the season to the Bulldogs. 

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 24:  Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Two decisions by the committee make us sure of this coming into existence while robbing Big 12 champion Oklahoma and Big Ten champion Ohio State of a playoff berth. 

The first is the placing of Florida and LSU in the top 10 above two-loss Washington State, who before Saturday was an outside playoff contender. 

The second came at the bottom of the rankings, as Missouri entered as the eighth SEC team in the Top 25 at No. 24. 

That means Alabama has victories over four ranked teams in LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Missouri. 

Add in the fact that the Crimson Tide's only loss would be at the hands of No. 4 Georgia, who would end up as one of the top three seeds in the playoff, and Nick Saban's team has one of the best resumes in the nation. 

Of course, all the fuss surrounding Alabama's spot in the playoff will go away if the Crimson Tide do what they've done all season and topple Georgia to earn the No. 1 seed and the choice of hosting the No. 4 seed at either the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl. 


Oklahoma Edges Ohio State For No. 4 Seed If Alabama Wins

Oklahoma and Ohio State are the biggest fans of the Crimson Tide Saturday. 

If Alabama takes care of business in Atlanta, the committee will decide between the Sooners and Buckeyes, who both have one last chance to make an impression in their respective conference title games. 

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 23:  Kyler Murray #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners in action against the West Virginia Mountaineers on November 23, 2018 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Strength of schedule is the key difference between the Sooners and Buckeyes, as playoff committee chairman Rob Mullens noted, per Stewart Mandel of The Athletic

Ohio State has more wins over ranked opposition and a better quality win from Week 13 compared to Oklahoma, but the brutal loss suffered by Urban Meyer's team at Purdue still looms large in the eyes of the committee. 

Since the Sooners already have an edge over the Buckeyes, they should remain in front of the Big Ten side if they beat a stronger opponent while avenging their lone loss of the season to Texas. 

Almost everyone who follows college football will admit a conference title game win over Texas is better than one over Northwestern, which means the Buckeyes are at a disadvantage. 

With that in mind, Ohio State has an incentive to blow out the Wildcats in Indianapolis in order to make one final case to the committee. 

Since Oklahoma kicks off eight hours before the Buckeyes, they'll know exactly what kind of statement they'll have to make, but there's no guarantee even a 50-point win would do the job.


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