College Football Playoff Rankings prediction: Notre Dame inches up as SEC, Big Ten take half of top 25


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This week’s College Football Playoff Rankings should be more stable than last week’s second edition as only five ranked teams lost with Oklahoma as the lone top 10 team to fall. Of course, this is not like the top 25 polls, so teams can move around even if they all win. I am not predicting movement near the top of this week’s rankings, but it is certainly possible.

Here is the criteria that committee members consider when building the CFP Rankings each week:

Strength of scheduleConference championships (once decided)Head-to-headResults vs. common opponentsResults vs. ranked opponents

Thankfully, the committee’s definition of “ranked opponents” is different than what you’re used to seeing. The rankings they use are the prior week’s CFP Rankings. They do not consider where teams are ranked when the games were played either in the CFP, AP Top 25, etc. Using game-time rankings is the most worthless way to determine “ranked opponents”. In fact, the committee specifically forbids the use of any poll that has a preseason starting point.

There are also criteria that are not specifically listed and will likely never be said out loud by anyone. Those include things like margin of victory. Teams cannot always control their strength of schedule, but they can take strides to make up for a weak one by dominating the opponents they do face.

Also, game control is back! Actually, it never went away, but it’s doubtful we will ever hear that term again. Regardless, when the committee chairman is mentioning halftime scores, like Gary Barta did when talking about the North Carolina-Notre Dame game last week, then you know game control is a thing. It is better to build an early lead than a late one, even if the result is the same. (There is no game control statistic. It is strictly an eye test.)

With that in mind, here is how I expect the CFP Rankings to look upon their third release Tuesday night.

Note: This prediction is based only on results to this point. It does not reflect the final projection for the playoff. The complete bowl playoff and bowl projections through the end of the season can be found here.

College Football Playoff Rankings prediction

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