On Tuesday, the selection committee will reveal its first rankings of the 2016 season. At first glance, it should be pretty easy to determine which four teams will land in this year's College Football Playoff.
Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington are the only undefeated teams from Power 5 conferences and they should take up the four playoff spots (more on that below). Western Michigan, as the only other unbeaten team, should claim the Group of Five's spot in the New Year's Six bowl lineup.
But only if the season ended yesterday.
There are still five more weeks to go in the season and three of the top four teams still face their stiffest test yet. Alabama must get through LSU and Auburn, Michigan has to visit Ohio State, and Washington hosts USC and travels to the Palouse for the Apple Cup, and that's all before their respective conference championship games.
Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt replaced Arkansas' Jeff Long as the committee chairman. On Tuesday he's going to spin his own yarn about why the rankings are how they are. He might borrow from Long's book with jargons such as "game control" and "quality loss," or he might invent his own. But the initial rankings - or any of them before the Dec. 4 final rankings - don't matter.
Unlike voters in the AP and coaches polls, the committee takes a fresh look at the teams each week as its members discuss how they should be ranked. The weekly shows are merely programming fillers that provide lots of talking points, but nothing more.
We learned that from the first season of the CFP.
Game of the Week
Washington 31, Utah 24: Of the remaining unbeaten playoff contenders, the Huskies probably were the most untested. But after winning a gritty road game against the Pac-12 South co-leaders, those doubts should subside some. Heisman candidate QB Jake Browning played a controlled if unspectacular game, but it was the Huskies' special teams that made the difference at the end, breaking a 24-24 tie late on Dante Pettis' 58-yard punt return with 3:25 left.
Player of the Week
Saquon Barkley, Penn State: The Nittany Lions' resurgence has been both sudden and surprising. After losing to Pitt and getting blasted by Michigan, coach James Franklin was on the hot seat. But he has turned things around quickly as Penn State has won four straight, including an upset of Ohio State. Sophomore running back Barkley has been the Lions' workhorse as he ran for 207 yards and caught three passes for 70 more in their 62-24 rout of Purdue.
How does this continue to happen? Never mind the idiot players who value preening than their teams' welfare, but how do the officials still not pay attention? We're talking about players so anxious to drop the ball to celebrate a score that they can't bear the thought of carrying the ball all the way across the goal line.
This idiocy has already happened a couple of times this season, and nearly a dozen times over the last few years, but it continues and the officials keep missing it, even with the help of replay. Oregon's Pharaoh Brown apparently was about to score on a 72-yard pass reception when he flung the ball before crossing into the end zone. The play was so blatantly obvious that almost all TV viewers saw it immediately.
Except the guy who was standing 3 yards away and the Pac-12 replay crew that was supposed to review all scoring plays. The touchdown stood as Oregon took a 7-0 lead en route to a 54-35 win over Arizona State.
The official is literally standing just a few yards away and still missed it pic.twitter.com/8sXcFdjKKm
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 29, 2016
Projected Committee Ranking
1. Alabama, 2. Michigan, 3. Clemson, 4. Washington, 5. Louisville, 6. Ohio State, 7. Texas A&M, 8. Wisconsin, 9. Nebraska, 10. Florida, 11. Auburn, 12. Oklahoma, 13. Penn State, 14. Baylor, 15. Western Michigan.
Projected New Year's Six bowl matchups
Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal): Michigan vs. Clemson
Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal): Alabama vs. Washington
Rose Bowl: Colorado vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
Orange Bowl: Louisville vs. Ohio State
Cotton Bowl: Nebraska vs. Western Michigan