The second week of College Football Playoff rankings woke up the echoes and probably woke up Waco in a bad mood.
Clemson remained No. 1. But who followed the leader immediately sparked discussion as Notre Dame, loser only to Clemson, got shoved into the top four at No. 4. Ohio State stayed at No. 3. The CFP selection committee felt Alabama’s win over former No. 2 LSU was worth a bump from No. 4 to No. 2.
The top four’s current configuration would give the Orange Bowl a Clemson-Notre Dame matchup.
Outside, waiting for an open door, sits No. 6 Baylor, which got passed over for the No. 5 spot. That went to the Big Ten’s Iowa. No. 7 Stanford faces Notre Dame down the road. As Alabama took LSU’s chair at the table, Oklahoma State’s upset of TCU got the committee to replace TCU with the Cowboys in the No. 8 slot.
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“Five through eight was where we spend the majority of our time discussing and voting,” CFP selection committee chair Jeff Long said on ESPN. “Iowa for us they’ve shown consistent improvement. Shown consistency on both sides of the ball. While they’ve not been flashy, they’ve been solid on both sides of the ball. They’ve got a couple of road victories in the Big Ten that have been impressive.”
And, Long said, among the undefeated teams, Iowa’s strength of schedule ranks behind only Clemson’s.
Strength of schedule — or, rather, strength of wins — so far hinders the Big 12 teams such as Baylor and Oklahoma State. Most of the Big 12 powers play each other over the next few weeks.
“That’s where the majority of the Big 12 strength of schedule lies,” Long said. “It’s really hard to judge those teams at this point in the season.”
While Baylor fans will roar, Bears coach Art Briles said on ESPN, “It’s about what we’ve figured. It’s still early in the process. We understand our schedule’s backloaded. We’re going to have a chance to make some noise.”
Notre Dame makes noise just by being Notre Dame.
“They’ve moved themselves up,” Long said. “They’ve got a couple of top 25 wins that have been impressive. Their quarterback has had great play. They’ve been able to overcome some injuries on that team. That speaks to the strength of that team. They were solidly at No. 4 with the committee.”
He also admitted the committee gave Stanford a bit of a pass on the season-opening loss to Northwestern, a flat performance in a game that began at 9 a.m. Pacific time. The next week, Stanford began its current eight-game winning streak.
College Football Playoff rankings
3. Ohio St.
4. Notre Dame
8. Oklahoma St.
13. Michigan St.
16. Florida St.
17. Mississippi St.
23. North Carolina
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will issue weekly rankings each Tuesday, with the final rankings being announced Sunday, Dec. 6 (Noon EST). The playoff semifinals will match the No. 1seed vs. the No.4 seed, and No.2 will face No.3. The semifinals will be hosted at the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31. The championship game will be on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz.