College Football Playoff Rankings 2021: Experts React to Week 14 Top 25 Poll

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 1, 2021

FILE - Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson plays against Northern Illinois in the first half of a NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson should be strongly considered for the Heisman Trophy after he had three sacks, setting a single-season record for college football team, in a win over Ohio State that put the Wolverines in the Big Ten championship game and national title race. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The scenarios to qualify for the College Football Playoff are clear after Tuesday's rankings release. 

The Georgia Bulldogs remained on top. They were followed by the Michigan Wolverines, who jumped three spots from No. 5 to No. 2. Georgia and Michigan are in the playoff with wins in their respective conference championship games. 

College Football Playoff @CFBPlayoff

Check out the full #CFBPlayoff selection committee rankings for games played through November 27. Where does your team rank as we head into conference championship weekend and Selection Day? 🏈🏆 https://t.co/RBhlBBCWeQ

The order of the next four teams in the Top Six brought up more intrigue as the rankings were released. 

Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide are still at No. 3 ahead of their SEC Championship Game clash with Georgia. 

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit pointed out on the network's rankings reveal show that he had no problem with Alabama sitting at No. 3, per ESPN PR: 


3⃣ @KirkHerbstreit on @AlabamaFTBL being ranked third in the penultimate #CFBPlayoff rankings https://t.co/GungXvKhka

An Alabama win over Georgia is the result from Saturday's conference championship games that would cause the most chaos. 

The Athletic's David Ubben noted that an Alabama win and a Big 12 title for the Oklahoma State Cowboys is one of the only ways the Cincinnati Bearcats can miss the playoff: 

David Ubben @davidubben

An Alabama win and a OSU win is probably the only recipe for Cincinnati to get squeezed out now https://t.co/OzRIOFMxbl

Alabama's resume looks better after the rankings release since the Ole Miss Rebels jumped the Baylor Bears to get to No. 8. 

AL.com's Mike Rodak broke down what Ole Miss' move and the drop of the Texas A&M Aggies to No. 25 means for the Crimson Tide's resume: 

Mike Rodak @mikerodak

Bad news for Alabama’s CFP resume: Texas A&M drops 10 spots to No. 25, making that loss worse for the Tide. Good news for Alabama’s CFP resume: Ole Miss rises to No. 8. That’s a 21-point signature win.

As for the switch itself, Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller had no problem with it since Ole Miss went on the road and beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Baylor defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders at home by three points. 

Kerry Miller @kerrancejames

All this focus on Baylor "slipping" a spot, as if Ole Miss didn't convincingly win a road game against a previously ranked opponent and deserve a slight boost.

If Alabama loses, Cincinnati and Oklahoma State would be the first two beneficiaries. Oklahoma State moved ahead of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

Notre Dame is the only top-six program that will not play this weekend. The Fighting Irish finished their regular season with a blowout win over the Stanford Cardinal.

Since then, Brian Kelly left the Fighting Irish to coach the LSU Tigers. CFB Playoff selection committee chair Gary Barta noted Kelly's absence will play a role in the team's evaluation, which led to Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated saying that the Irish are "up against it." 

Pat Forde @ByPatForde

Barta time. On ND: "(Kelly's absence) is part of the criteria" for evaluating the Irish. Long story short: at No. 6 and without their coach, ND is up against it.

Notre Dame could make the playoff if Cincinnati and Oklahoma State lose, or if Michigan is upset by Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger laid out that potential chaos scenario: 

Ross Dellenger @RossDellenger

So, if (1) Georgia beats Alabama and (2) one of these three teams - Michigan, Cincinnati or Oklahoma State - loses, then... coach-less Notre Dame makes the Playoff. https://t.co/6pJzcGIcMO

The Ohio State Buckeyes are also a fan of chaos this weekend, as Ralph Russo of the Associated Press acknowledged: 

Ralph D. Russo @ralphDrussoAP

Ohio State is team chaos. If things are a mess Saturday, Buckeyes have a shot.

Ohio State fell from No. 2 to No. 7. The Buckeyes need three teams in front of them to lose Saturday just to have a crack at the Top Four. 

The final rankings are scheduled to come out Sunday at noon ET. The playoff field will be revealed first, then the New Year's Six bowls and that will be followed by the matchup announcements for the other bowls on the postseason schedule.