College Football Playoff Rankings prediction: Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, Cincinnati lead final top 25 poll


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This has been one of the most volatile seasons in the brief history of the College Football Playoff Rankings. Championship Week did not disappoint as four of the eight conference championship games involving at least one ranked team saw a lower-rated team win.

That means there is some churning ahead the final CFP Rankings, which will be released Sunday afternoon, even though many teams did not play this week. 

As a reminder, here is the criteria that CFP Selection Committee members consider when building the rankings each week:

Strength of scheduleConference championships (once decided)Head-to-headResults vs. common opponentsResults vs. ranked opponents

The committee’s definition of “ranked opponents” is different than what you’re used to seeing as they use 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.

There are also criteria that are not specifically listed and will likely never be said out loud by anyone. Those include things like margin of victory. Teams cannot always control their strength of schedule, but they can take strides to make up for a weak one by dominating the opponents they do face.

Also, when it comes to game control, the cat is no longer in the bag. Despite telling me at a mock selection meeting in October that game control was something the committee never discussed, they are now openly talking about the concept despite it being based on an eye test. Chairman Gary Barta was asked how much the committee takes a team’s ability to control games into account, saying: “Controlling wins, if you think about watching games, that’s more important than just a team that’s just running up the score in my opinion.”

With that in mind, here is how I expect the final CFP Rankings to look upon their release Sunday afternoon. You can also check out our full Expert Picks selections for the playoff field. 

Note: My complete playoff and bowl projections can be found here.

College Football Playoff Rankings prediction

The College Football Playoff selection show is on the horizon. Before the field of four is announced, the Cover 3 Podcast looks back at all that happened during Conference Championship Week, providing analysis and insight you can’t get anywhere else. 



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