Georgia put up a heck of an effort against Alabama in the SEC title game, but the Committee didn’t believe it was enough to get them into the College Football Playoff. We believe the Bulldogs are clearly a top-three team, but the top four teams in the power rankings ahead of bowl season is made up of the Playoff participants.
1. Alabama (13-0) | Last week: 1
It’s hard to imagine someone handling this entire quarterback situation as well as Jalen Hurts has for the past 11 months, and he admirably stepped up and helped deliver another SEC championship for Alabama. And potential Heisman winner Tua Tagovailoa should be ready to go for the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma after leaving the conference championship game with an ankle injury. The Crimson Tide probably don’t mind not having to face the Bulldogs again.
2. Clemson (13-0) | Last week: 2
Clearly, the team with the best chance to knock off Alabama in the CFB Playoff is Clemson. In fact, the Tigers belong in the same class as the team they’ve faced in the Playoff the last three seasons (and the national title game twice). Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne lead a balanced offensive attack, and this senior class with four straight conference titles (the first time in ACC history) is unbelievable. Alabama and Clemson facing off for a fourth straight year seem likely.
3. Oklahoma (12-1) | Last week: 6 (+3)
Oklahoma didn’t have a perfect regular season like Alabama and Clemson, but they were able to avenge their only loss to Texas and captured a fourth straight Big 12 title in the process. Kyler Murray and the offense should be able to put points up on any team, which is probably part of why the Committee ignored a defense that’s really struggled this season. The Sooners need the defense to step up to have a good chance of advancing to the title game.
4. Notre Dame (12-0) | Last week: 5 (+1)
Notre Dame is the Playoff team we think could have easily been left out of the field, but the Committee but them at No. 3. They deserve a boost for scheduling tough out-of-conference games (including an opening-game victory at Michigan), but they don’t have a conference title and they would be clear underdogs against the trio of Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia. However, the Fighting Irish will get a chance to prove they belong in the Playoff when they face Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.
5. Georgia (11-2) | Last week: 3 (-2)
The Committee has been extremely inconsistent with how they’ve determined whether a team should get into the Playoff or not. Clearly, we believe Georgia is a top three team that should have been included in the top four. They had two losses, but one was in Death Valley and the other was in a nail-biting conference championship against Alabama—they just happened to be in the same conference as the No. 1 team in the nation. Jake Fromm is playing as well as anyone at quarterback, and the Bulldogs will look to end a great season with a Sugar Bowl win over Texas.
6. Ohio State (12-1) | Last week: 4 (-2)
Considering they won a championship in arguably the second-best conference, Ohio State probably has a stronger case than the Committee seemed to believe given their No. 6 ranking. The Buckeyes would be favored over the Fighting Irish, but a perfect record ultimately trumped a Big Ten championship. This is the second consecutive season without a Big Ten team in the College Football Playoff.
7. UCF (12-0) | Last week: 7
It was looking shaky early in the game for UCF, but they shut down Memphis’ offense in the second half (three points allowed), and freshman quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. accounted for six touchdowns—four on the ground—in the Knights’ 56-41 American Conference Championship Game win. The program with the nation’s longest winning streak now has a chance to pick up another New Year’s Six Bowl win against an SEC team when they face LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.
8. Michigan (10-2) | Last week: 8
This season hasn’t gone quite the way Michigan expected, but a New Year’s Six Bowl gives them a big opportunity to cap it off nicely. They play Florida in the Peach Bowl; the Wolverines destroyed the Gators in the Citrus Bowl in 2016, and they followed it up with a big victory to open the 2017 season, so the team is likely to be confident against a talented SEC squad.
9. Washington (10-3) | Last week: NR
Like Michigan, Washington hasn’t had the season they expected, with Playoff aspirations coming into the year. However, the Huskies have ended the season with an Apple Cup win, a Pac-12 Championship Game win, and now they’ll go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2000. The senior class led by Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin will look to end their careers with a win in one of the most prestigious bowls.
10. Florida (9-3) | Last week: 9 (-1)
Both LSU and Florida get New Year’s Six Bowls, and they both could have easily been in this No. 10 spot. While the Tigers will look to knock off LSU, the Gators will look to get some redemption against Jim Harbaugh’s squad after two losses to them the last few seasons. They’ll kickoff the NY6 games on December 29 at noon.