Alabama is now the near unanimous No. 1 team in the country after its convincing 49-10 win over then No. 9 Tennessee in Knoxville. But it’s what is going on right behind the Crimson Tide that hints at a brewing controversy.
We are still two weeks away from the first College Football Playoff ranking, but it is hard to argue with the AP’s top three teams.
After Alabama, Ohio State remains No. 2 after beating eighth-ranked Wisconsin. More importantly, Michigan has leapfrogged Clemson, after the Tigers’ latest close call – a 24-17 overtime win at home over unranked North Carolina State.
If this ranking is mirrored in the College Football Playoff rankings, we are heading toward a monster showdown between Ohio State and Michigan on November 26 in Columbus, Ohio.
If both teams win their games before November 26 – Michigan has no games remaining against teams currently ranked, and Ohio State has one such game, at home against No. 8 Nebraska – the winner will go on to the Big Ten Championship game, where they will be a heavy favorite to advance to the playoff.
But what about the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State game? Are we sure that is an elimination game?
There is a good chance that the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 will all have champions with at least one loss. Even if just two of those conferences have a one-loss champion, the final spot in the playoff could come down to those one-loss champions and a clearly superior one-loss Michigan or Ohio State that didn’t make it to the Big Ten Championship game.
The playoff committee seems to favor conference champions. But this year might be the one when one conference deserves two spots in the playoff.
Of course, this would all be solved with an eight-team playoff. But until then, it looks as though chaos will continue to reign.
Here is the latest AP Top 25 poll, with first-place votes in parentheses:
Alabama (60) Ohio State Michigan (1) Clemson Washington Texas A&M Louisville Nebraska Baylor Wisconsin Houston West Virginia Florida State Boise State Florida Oklahoma Arkansas Tennessee Utah Western Michigan Auburn North Carolina Ole Miss Navy LSU