With the advent of the College Football Playoff, the BCS and its standings have been consigned to the ash heap of history. The 13-member selection committee will make all the decisions. Polls and computer rankings (supposedly) will no longer matter. There will be no more standings and no more projections ...
But that just can't be. College football has always been about rankings, from the preseason to the postseason. There's no way we should have to wait 'till the last week of October to find out where everyone stands. And there is a lot at stake here.
Besides the top four teams that will advance to the Playoff, there are eight other slots up for grabs for the 'New Years' Six' bowl games. The highest-ranked champion of the non-power "Group of Five" conferences is guaranteed one of the spots.
Back in the spring, we experimented and tinkered to come up with a methodology that will generate a rankings system similar to what the committee might produce. Beginning this week, we will unveil our rankings every Monday morning to show you where everybody stands:
COMPLETE CFP STANDINGS
The Playoff Teams
1. Florida State - The Seminoles barely edged Oregon for the top spot and they have an inviting path to repeat as national champions. All of their toughest remaining opponents - Clemson, Notre Dame, Boston College and Florida - are at home. And even with the addition of Louisville, the ACC doesn't look like it will provide much of a challenge.
2. Oregon - The Ducks really have looked the most impressive so far among the top teams, especially with the second-half destruction of a good Michigan State team two weeks ago. The Pac-12 will not be a cakewalk, but with USC and Arizona State absent on the schedule, it enhances Oregon's chances to run the table.
3. Oklahoma - The Sooners defeated a pedestrian Tennessee team to wrap up their non-conference schedule without a blemish. Because there isn't a Big 12 title game, Oklahoma will have less margin for error than other big 5 conference contenders. For OU, it could be one (loss) and done.
4. Auburn - The top four teams have separated themselves from the rest, which means there's a significant gap between No. 4 Auburn and No. 5 Alabama. But the Tigers have a brutal schedule ahead, with seven teams currently in the top 25 of our rankings on tap, beginning with this Thursday's non-conference game at Kansas State.
First Four Out
5. Alabama - Don't fret, Tide fans, your team can easily play its way into the Playoff, but first and foremost it must win the Iron Bowl. Alabama's schedule isn't nearly as challenging as Auburn's, as it will play neither South Carolina nor Georgia, likely the two best teams in the SEC East.
6. Texas A&M - The Aggies shot up the rankings with their season (and SEC Network) -opening rout at South Carolina and have been flying under the radar for a bit with a cupcake-y tour through Texas' lesser teams (Lamar, Rice and SMU). If A&M can somehow win the SEC West by getting by Auburn, Alabama and LSU, it'll be in the Playoff.
7. LSU - Four teams in the SEC West are among the top seven teams in our rankings, that's what makes this the most competitive division in college football. The Tigers opened the season with a resounding win over Big Ten power Wisconsin, but most of their work are still ahead.
8. Baylor - Nobody really knows how good the Bears are after they rolled through their first three opponents by a cumulative score of 178-27. But this joke of a non-conference schedule might come back to haunt Baylor unless it can run through the Big 12 unscathed.
Other Fun Facts
* The SEC is dominating the standings, with five teams in the top nine and eight in the top 15. But that does not necessarily mean that it will land multiple teams in the Playoff, as the intra-conference fratricide will soon kick into full gear.
* After the second Saturday debacle, the Big Ten's chances of making the Playoff field looks pretty bleak. Michigan State, the highest-ranked B1G team at No. 13, might be the only one with a slim shot if it can win the conference. No other Big Ten team is higher than No. 20.
* Notre Dame is currently 10th, and with a remaining schedule that includes Stanford, Florida State, Arizona State and USC, it has a chance to crash the Playoff field if it can go undefeated.
* BYU, at No. 18, might earn one of the New Years' Six bowl slots, though nothing is guaranteed for the independent team. Though they have a benign schedule that gives the Cougars a great shot at going undefeated, it remains unlikely that they can earn a spot in the Playoff.
* As has been the case since the latter years of the BCS, conference realignment has sucked almost all the oxygen out of the lesser conferences. Of the 44 teams ranked in our standings, only three come from the "Group of Five" conferences and just one in the top 25: No. 24 East Carolina (American), No. 34 Cincinnati (American) and No. 44 Marshall (C-USA).