College Football Playoff Rankings projection: Georgia, Michigan hold top two spots entering rivalry games

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With the initial College Football Playoff Rankings for the 2021 season set to be released next Tuesday night, we do not want to wait that long to get a taste of how the CFP Selection Committee will be ranking the top 25 teams in the nation. This is a warm up act for the warm up act, which are all of the CFP Rankings releases before the final one after conference championship week.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer playing havoc with schedules as it did last season, we are back to the committee use its regular criteria. Here are some of key points those members decide when ranking teams besides overall record:

  • Strength of schedule
  • Conference championships (when decided)
  • Head-to-head
  • Results vs. common opponents
  • Results vs. ranked opponents

Thankfully, the committee’s definition of “ranked opponents” is different than what you’re used to seeing. The rankings they use are the prior week’s CFP Rankings. They do not consider where teams are ranked when the games were played either in the CFP, AP Top 25, etc. Using game-time rankings is the most worthless way to determine “ranked opponents”. In fact, the committee specifically forbids the use of any poll that has a preseason starting point.

Notice that “game control” is not listed in the criteria. It never has been considered despite the term coming out of the mouth of the committee chairman at times. I was able to ask about that specifically at a mock CFP Selection Committee exercise I attended in October only to be met with blank stares as if they had never heard the term used. (The CFP does have a way to measure “game control” – I saw the data – but they do not talk about it.)

With all of that in mind, here is how the CFP Rankings would look if released this week. These rankings are top heavy with SEC and BIg Ten teams only because they have not weeded each other out yet.

Note: This projection is based only on results to this point. It does not reflect the final forecast for the playoff. The complete bowl playoff and bowl projections through the end of the season can be found here.

College Football Playoff Rankings projection

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