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2018 College Football Playoff Rankings: Breaking Down the Top 25

Oct 30, 2018 7:55 PM EDT
  • We've got projections for the first 2018 College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings.
  • Remember: Don't worry too much about where your team lands -- it will all play itself out on the field over the next month.

Ah, the first edition of the 2018 College Football Playoff rankings, when we yell and scream about a Top 25 that is completely incomplete.

It’s like arguing about who is winning a race while the race is still going on. We’ll get our winners soon enough.

Still, there’s plenty to learn from the College Football Playoff committee’s first Top 25.

2018 College Football Playoff Rankings

UPDATE: The committee released its top 10. Below this list are our projections.

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. LSU
  4. Notre Dame
  5. Michigan
  6. Georgia
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Washington State
  9. Kentucky
  10. Ohio State
  11. Florida
  12. UCF
  13. West Virginia
  14. Penn State
  15. Utah
  16. Iowa
  17. Texas
  18. Mississippi State
  19. Syracuse
  20. Texas A&M
  21. NC State
  22. Boston College
  23. Fresno State
  24. Iowa State
  25. Virginia

Before the rankings were released, here was our projected top 25, along with each team’s current national title odds.

2018 College Football Playoff Rankings Projections

The first 10 or so teams are still alive in the College Football Playoff race. Ten might even be a stretch. There are probably seven. No one would be surprised to see any of the top seven teams below get in, except maybe LSU, since a matchup with Alabama looms this weekend.

1. Alabama

National Title Odds: -230

Anyone want to make the case to not have Alabama at No. 1?

Clemson might have slightly better wins, but with the way the Tide have dominated, there’s no way they don’t take the top spot.

2. Clemson

National Title Odds: +375

The Tigers haven’t always made it easy on themselves, but they’re unbeaten, the offense is hitting its stride and they’ll be a double-digit favorite in every remaining game.

3. LSU

National Title Odds: +4000

LSU will be at No. 3 because its body of work is better than any team’s in the country.

The committee hasn’t been afraid of ranking a one-loss team with an impressive résumé ahead of an unbeaten team in the past — like last season, when unbeaten Miami (No. 7) and Wisconsin (No. 8) teams were ranked behind one-loss Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma and TCU teams.

But the Tigers play Alabama this weekend, and a second loss will effectively eliminate them from the College Football Playoff. So who cares if they’re at No. 3 right now? It will play itself out.

4. Notre Dame

National Title Odds: +600

If the Irish win out, they’ll get in. They’re at Northwestern, vs. Florida State, vs. Syracuse and at USC to close the season. Their toughest test is probably this weekend against the Wildcats.

5. Michigan

National Title Odds: +1200

Georgia and Michigan are pretty much the same team at this point: Both have one loss and need to win their respective conference championship to make the College Football Playoff.

You could have either at No. 5, but Michigan didn’t get throttled in its loss to Notre Dame like Georgia did to LSU, so we’ll go with the Wolverines.

6. Georgia

National Title Odds: +1150

Georgia doesn’t have a ton of quality wins, but plays Kentucky and Auburn over the next two weeks.

7. Oklahoma

National Title Odds: +2000

As the de facto leader of a Power 5 conference with one loss, Oklahoma gets in the contender’s tier at No. 7. The Sooners probably need some help — a Notre Dame loss, mainly — but they’re still very much alive.

8. Kentucky

National Title Odds: +80000

This is incredible. Kentucky — Kentucky! — comes in at No. 8 in the first 2018 College Football Playoff rankings.

The committee is big into résumé, and right now the Wildcats have a good one with wins over Florida and Mississippi State and only an overtime loss to Texas A&M. They deserve to be in the top 10.

9. Ohio State

National Title Odds: +1000

Everyone is acting as if Ohio State’s season is over, but the Buckeyes still have better national title odds than Michigan because they play the Wolverines at home.

Yeah, the loss to Purdue stings a lot. But if Ohio State wins out, the Buckeyes are almost certainly in the College Football Playoff.

10. Washington State

National Title Odds: +5000

The Pac-12’s only hope at a playoff spot, Washington State doesn’t have an overly impressive résumé, but continues to win.

11. Florida

National Title Odds: +99999

There’s no real scenario in which Florida makes the College Football Playoff, but that win over LSU gives it a bump ahead of two-loss Penn State because it’s the best win any team in the country has right now.

12. West Virginia

National Title Odds: +10000

West Virginia doesn’t have an impressive résumé, so it will slot in behind a handful of teams but it still has a reasonable path to the College Football Playoff if it wins out.

13. Penn State

National Title Odds: +50000

The Nittany Lions would need some serious help to reach the College Football Playoff, but they’re a two-loss Power 5 team. They’ll be placed ahead of a glut of teams.

14. Texas

National Title Odds: +27500

Because they have that signature win over Oklahoma, the Longhorns will get placed ahead of several other two-loss Power 5 teams that lack top-10 wins, such as Iowa and Utah.

15. Central Florida

National Title Odds: +6000

The UCF debate rages on. Last season, the Knights were No. 18 in the first set of College Football Playoff rankings.

They’ll get a little bump this season based on past performance, but the strength of schedule just isn’t there to jump UCF ahead of many two-loss Power 5 teams.

16. Iowa

National Title Odds: +100000

The Hawkeyes can still win the Big Ten West, giving them more of a path to the College Football Playoff than teams such as Florida or Penn State, but they don’t have a ton of quality wins and they lost to Penn State.

17. Utah

National Title Odds: +100000

Utah is like Iowa but in the Pac-12, so the Utes are one spot back.

18. Mississippi State

National Title Odds: OFF

The committee has routinely put three-loss Power 5 teams with quality wins ahead of unbeaten or one-loss Group of 5 teams — such as 6-3 Iowa and Iowa State over 8-1 Memphis last season, or 5-3 Florida State over 8-0 Western Michigan in 2016.

19. Texas A&M

National Title Odds: OFF

I’m not sure how the committee views quality losses, but the Aggies have one quality win over Kentucky and narrow victories over South Carolina and Arkansas. Not overly impressive.

20. Houston

National Title Odds: +100000

At this point, we’re splitting hairs.

The back end of the Top 25 has never mattered and isn’t likely to matter much in 2018, because these teams are either Group of 5 programs or ones that have multiple losses. Those credentials will both pretty much disqualify you from the College Football Playoff.

21. Fresno State

National Title Odds: +100000

Like Houston, Fresno State is very much vying for the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six spot, but not a College Football Playoff berth or national title.

22. Boston College

National Title Odds: +999999

Boston College beating Miami last week is probably enough to get the Eagles in the Top 25.

23. Syracuse

National Title Odds: OFF

Give it up for the Orange. They have two losses (and almost beat Clemson), have already hit their win total and will likely make the College Football Playoff Top 25 for the first time.

24. Stanford

National Title Odds: OFF

The Cardinal have some good wins, and their losses were to good teams, so the committee will have mercy and put them at No. 24.

25. Virginia

National Title Odds: +999999

We’re living in a world where Kentucky and Virginia could both be playing in their conference title games. UVA has two losses, but wins over Miami and Duke and a manageable schedule the rest of the way.

Credit:

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jerry Jeudy, Travis Etienne and Greedy Williams

Follow Steve Petrella on Twitter
@steve_petrella

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