The 2015 college football season continues to be full of surprises. And with the year almost over, all it takes is one slip up for a team’s playoff dreams to be completely shattered. Unfortunately, as we saw during the latest week of play, many teams learned this lesson the hard way.
Following the craziness of Week 12, the selection committee determined that many moves had to be made with regard to the fourth College Football Playoff rankings. While some of the best teams in the country remained firmly fixed in their positions, other clubs saw their impressive performances rewarded with favorable jumps in the standings.
We’re sure not everyone will agree with the committee’s most recent assessment of the college football landscape. Unfortunately, since it’s not in our power to change the standings, all we can do is break down the information and see which clubs inch closer to a spot in this year’s College Football Playoff. Here’s a closer look at the top seven teams in the latest CFP rankings.
It seemed as if the Baylor Bears had all but fallen out of contention for a place in the College Football Playoff. Then Week 12 happened. With a 45-35 road victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys, which featured 700 yards of total offense, Art Briles and company improved to 9-1 on the year, rose to No. 7 in the AP Top 25, and climbed three spots in the latest CFP rankings to No. 7. It will take some help for the Bears to see their playoff dreams become a reality. However, as we’ve seen throughout this entire 2015 season, anything is possible.
6. Notre Dame
Despite defeating the Boston College Eagles 19-16 in their Week 12 showdown at Fenway Park, Notre Dame‘s playoff hopes took a significant hit. Thanks to a sloppy performance in which they committed five turnovers, the Fighting Irish hardly looked the part of a team worthy of a top four position in the College Football Playoff rankings. As a result, the selection committee dropped Brian Kelly’s club two spots to No. 6.
5. Michigan State
In one of the biggest surprises in Week 12 play, the Michigan State Spartans stormed into Columbus and took down the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes on a last-second field goal. With this 17-14 victory over the previously unbeaten Buckeyes, the Spartans put the rest of the country on blast, not to mention gaining the selection committee’s attention in the process. Mark Dantonio’s crew are now 9-1, hold the No. 5 ranking in the AP poll, and have moved up four spots in the most recent CFP rankings to No. 5. Don’t look now, but the Spartans are coming.
With their convincing 40-20 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers, the Iowa Hawkeyes improved their record to 11-0, clinched the Big Ten West, and earned a spot in the conference championship game. On top of that, Kirk Ferentz’s club made moves in both the AP Top 25 and College Football Playoff standings, climbing to No. 3 and No. 4 respectively. As hard as it is to believe, those Hawkeyes continue to prove they are the real deal. These latest rankings are a perfect example of that.
The Oklahoma Sooners have been on the rise for weeks now. Following another big win in Week 12, the polls reflect it. After defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 30-29, the Sooners improved their record to 10-1 on the season, climbed to the top of the Big 12 standings, and have a clear path to this year’s College Football Playoff (up four spots to No. 3) as these new rankings clearly show. Will Big Game Bob get the opportunity to put his nickname to the test? We’ll know soon enough.
Another week, another one-sided victory for the Alabama Crimson Tide. This time, it was Charleston Southern that was forced to endure the wrath of one of college football’s top teams. With their 56-6 onslaught of a clearly inferior program, Nick Saban and the Tide went to 10-1 on the year and remained firmly planted in the No. 2 spot in the CFP rankings.
Once again, thanks to their decisive 33-13 win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the Clemson Tigers remain at the top of the college football pecking order, ranking No. 1 in both the AP Top 25 and CFP standings. So long as quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to play at a high level and head coach Dabo Swinney keeps this group focused on the task at hand, the Tigers will most assuredly find themselves heading to this year’s College Football Playoff.