The second edition of the college football playoff rankings were released and still sitting at the top was Georgia and Alabama at #1 and #2 respectively. The top four remained unchanged with Notre Dame at #3 and Clemson at #4.
1. Georgia (9-0)
2. Alabama (9-0)
3. Notre Dame (8-1)
4. Clemson (8-1)
5. Oklahoma (8-1)
6. TCU (8-1)
7. Miami (8-0)
8. Wisconsin (9-0)
9. Washington (8-1)
10. Auburn (7-2)
The big discussion of the night turned into the Auburn Tigers and the path that is in front of them to potentially be the first two-loss team in the playoff. We asked the question last night on Twitter, would Auburn jump an undefeated or 1-loss conference champion from other power five conferences?
Primetime Poll – If the season ends like this:
Notre Dame (11-1)
Clemson (12-1, ACC Champ)
Oklahoma/TCU winner (12-1, Big 12 Champ)
Wisconsin (13-0, Big 10 Champ)
Washington (12-1, Pac-12 Champ)
Does Auburn at 11-2 w/ SEC championship make the playoff?
— JOX PrimeTime (@JoxPrimeTime) November 8, 2017
I think it’s a legitimate question to ask because there are plenty of arguments for and against including Auburn at that point. Let me preface all of this by saying I don’t think Auburn beats Georgia or Alabama, but the path is still there for them to do something crazy down the stretch.
Imagine the season finishes this way: Auburn beats Georgia, Louisiana Monroe, Alabama and then Georgia again in the SEC Championship. It’s a hell of a final four games right?
Let’s assume Auburn wins those games – Georgia is potentially not even in the top 10 with two losses, but most likely will be just inside it at around 7 or 8. Alabama finishes the season at 11-1 and misses the SEC championship game.
Let’s also assume the rest of the country ends this way, which is a very likely scenario:
Notre Dame (11-1): Wins over Michigan State, USC, NC State, Miami and Stanford. Lone loss – Georgia
Clemson (12-1): ACC Champion with wins over Auburn, Virginia Tech, NC State, and Miami. Lone loss – Syracuse
Oklahoma (12-1): Big 12 Champion with wins over Ohio State, Oklahoma State, TCU and West Virginia and either TCU/Oklahoma State/West Virginia/Iowa State. Lone loss – Iowa State (if the winner is TCU, same argument, just switch Ohio State for Arkansas)
Wisconsin (13-0): Big 10 Champion with wins over Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State-or-Michigan State. No losses
Washington (12-1): Pac-12 Champion with wins over Stanford, Washington State and USC. Lone loss – Arizona State
Alabama (11-1): Wins over Mississippi State and LSU. Lone loss – Auburn
Auburn (11-2): Wins over Mississippi State, Georgia, Alabama, and Georgia again. Losses – Clemson and LSU
There are all of the Power 5 teams that would have a better record than Auburn. The first one I think you could knock out is Washington. Most would agree a 2-loss Auburn would jump them. Alabama is another team that you would think you could eliminate, at least on head-to-head, but don’t forget, Ohio State made the playoff last year in the exact same scenario that Alabama would be in. The saving grace for Ohio State was that their loss had a few weeks of buffer and they had a win over Oklahoma. Alabama’s win over Florida State, while at the beginning of the season was impressive, doesn’t mean much now unfortunately.
So assuming Alabama and Washington are eliminated, Auburn will have to jump:
Oklahoma (or TCU)
Notre Dame’s loss to Georgia won’t look as good, so Auburn will have that over them, but are Notre Dame’s overall wins and position now good enough to keep them in?
Clemson already beat Auburn head-to-head so there is no way Auburn jumps them if they win out.
Oklahoma has a win over Ohio State out of conference and wins over some other top 25 teams in-conference. If they beat TCU, then they will have wins over #11 and #6 in November and then another top 25 win in the Big 12 title game. The question becomes – does a non-conference win on the road over Ohio State mean enough to keep them in compared to Auburn’s recent wins in-conference?
Wisconsin will be undefeated and have wins over top 25 teams in Iowa and then the winner of the Ohio State/Michigan State game, which will be a top 15 game. The question comes down to the committee determining if beating Georgia twice and Alabama can completely erase the Clemson and LSU losses to put Auburn on equal footing with an undefeated champion from the conference that many consider the best as of now.
This whole situation also begs the question – is the SEC back on top as the best conference? Coming into the season, many had the Big 10 at the top, with the ACC perhaps even ahead of the SEC as well. With three of the current top 10 teams (including #1 and #2) and being the only conference that almost has a guaranteed team in the playoff, there could be an argument for the SEC to be #1 right now. The Big Ten East has kind of imploded, same with the ACC Atlanic – both of which looked strong in the preseason.
All of these arguments are going to be used to determine where a team like Auburn should fall should they win out. Once again, that will be extremely difficult and there will be many factors to determine where they should be ranked, but will the losses be too much to overcome, no matter who they beat? We’ll see.
So we have the college football rankings above, but here is my personal tier list. The teams at the top have the best chance to make the playoff and the further down in tier, the less likely that team is to make the playoff in my opinion given their record so far, and how I feel the remaining games will go. Teams within each tier are listed in alphabetical order.