College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 3

Welcome back to Campus Pressbox’s weekly College Football Playoff rankings.

Note: any numbers in parenthesis are the team’s ranking from the previous week.

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)
  2. The Ohio State Buckeyes (3)

The Buckeyes and Crimson Tide had similar, yet both immensely impressive weeks. Both beat a ranked opponent in its own house, and I would say both teams did so in style.

While the Buckeyes’ win, capped off by a so-so catch by Noah Brown, was much larger and flashier than ‘Bama’s, the Tide still showed their excellence and ability to perform in tough match-ups, as it trailed the Ole Miss Rebels by 21 points.  Alabama scored two touchdowns on the defensive side of the ball.  Those, combined with the 21-point comeback, keep it at No. 1 over the equally impressive Buckeyes. Jalen Hurts also continues to improve

Three weeks into the season, I can officially say that for the 2016 CFP race, Alabama and Ohio State are the front runners.

  1. Louisville Cardinals (9)

Unsurprisingly, the biggest mover in this week’s poll is the Louisville Cardinals. The team whom I openly doubted proved me and all the haters wrong by almost literally walking over the Florida State Seminoles. The Cardinals trounced FSU so bad that the Seminoles have completely dropped out of the top 10.

Lamar Jackson, who has been better than possibly anyone ever, is clearly the real deal, and the front-runner for this year’s Heisman Trophy. Louisville still has some ways to go, with games against the two teams ranked immediately below it.

If this weekend taught me anything, though, it’s that the Cardinals are legit, and cold spoil more playoff dreams in thier drive towards the 2016 playoff.

  1. Houston Cougars (4)

Houston stays sitting at No. 4 this week. The Cougars’ win over Cincinnati was impressive, but Houston’s chances of making the playoff have dropped dramatically with the emergence of Louisville.

Houston plays Louisville on November 17, and cannot lose that match-up if the Cougars want any chance at a Group of 5 playoff berth. While UL could, with a potential win over Clemson, lose to Houston and still make its way into the playoff, Houston does not have the privilege of the Cardinals’ schedule.

Houston should spend the next seven weeks of the season preparing solely for this match-up (the Cougars fans clearly have), as it will decide the fate of the Cougars.

  1. Clemson Tigers (6)
  2. Michigan Wolverines (5)

Clemson and Michigan both remain in the middle of the pack as of right now, both following good wins. Clemson forced South Carolina State to take part in a phenomena that’s more common than most think, while the Wolverines invited an obscure alumni to be its honorary captain.

However, both Clemson and Michigan are clear second fiddles, in regards to their conferences, to Louisville and Ohio State, respectively. In order for either team to make it to the playoff, they require a win over said conference opponent.

Whilst Clemson gets to take on Louisville in just a few weeks’ time (at home), the Wolverines must wait until the last day of the regular season and travel to the Horseshoe to try and upset the Buckeyes’ hopes. Without a win in those games, both Clemson’s and Michigan’s playoff chances are little to none.

  1. Stanford Cardinal (8)
  2. Washington Huskies (10)

Stanford, and to a lesser extent Washington, is the most under-the-radar team thus far in terms of playoff rankings. Both have clearly impressed in the season so far. However, both play in the Pac-12 North, meaning that there is no way both can manage to make it to the College Football Playoff.

That being said, the match-up between these two teams, which occurs at the end of the month, will directly determine which, if any, Pac-12 team has the chance to qualify for the College Football Playoff. Washington’s lackluster out of conference games thus far sure doesn’t help them make a case.

If I had to bet, I would put money on Christian McCaffrey and the Cardinal to beat out Washington in the North and have a chance to be playoff qualifiers.

  1. Texas A&M Aggies

Another surprise this year has been the play of the Aggies. A&M, following the win over Auburn, already has two quality wins this year. That, as well as the Aggies’ domination against its FCS opponent, allowed the boys from College Station to make it on to the tail end of this list.

Big games await the Aggies, as three of their next four match-ups are against currently ranked teams, culminating with a game down in Tuscaloosa on October 22. Texas A&M still has a long way to go to warrant a consideration for the playoff, but the first three weeks of the season have helped the Aggies to prove they belong in the top-tier of college football.

  1. Michigan State Spartans AND Wisconsin Badgers (7)

Before anyone asks, yes, this is 100 percent cheating on my part. However, I have very good reason to include two teams at the final spot on this week’s list. Both the Spartans and the Badgers have convincing wins over ranked opponents, but they both also struggled vs. FCS opponents. There is honestly no way to separate the two so far this season, so that is why they are sharing this spot.

Both are long-shots at the playoff, as the Buckeyes and the Wolverines lead the Big Ten charge. However, if either MSU or UW get its act together, there is a chance that team could spoil someone’s dreams and sneak into the playoff. These teams both have very interesting match-up this week.

Drop Outs & Honorable Mentions

Florida State, following what has to be one of the worst losses for a top five team in college football history, drops out of the top ten, and most likely out of the CFP race.

Georgia is the only other team that was considered for this week’s rankings, but was ultimately left off.

 

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.
Image Courtesy of University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band – Flickr
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