The second year of the College Football Playoff is off and running, as the committee released its first set of rankings Tuesday night. If the season ended today, No. 1 Clemson (8-0) would play No. 4 Alabama (7-1), and No. 2 LSU (7-0) would play No. 3 Ohio State (8-0), with the winners meeting for the national championship at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on January 11.
No. 5 Notre Dame (7-1) and No. 6 Baylor (7-0), meanwhile, would be on the outside looking in.
“Well, Clemson and LSU, I thought, were kind of apparent,” CBSSports.com college football insider Jerry Palm said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It was really going to be difficult to justify any other teams for the top two. They’re the two teams that have played the strongest schedules among the undefeated teams. They have the best wins with LSU beating Florida and Clemson beating Notre Dame. So those two were pretty apparent.”
After that, it got a little more subjective.
“I think Ohio State is a little bit high because they haven’t really hit the meat of their schedule yet and they haven’t really lived up to expectations,” Palm said. “They’re not really being judged on expectations, but they just haven’t always been sharp. And then Alabama, I guess, is the strongest of the one-loss teams. I think you can make a case for that. I probably would have them behind both Florida and Notre Dame. Four seems a little bit high for Alabama, but again, it’s November. It’s not too much to get excited about.”
Which means Art Briles and Baylor shouldn’t be too angry that, as of now, they’re once again on the outside looking in. Then again, they probably shouldn’t get too comfortable, either.
“Of those top six, the one that really stands out to me is Baylor – because Baylor’s schedule is only marginally better than Houston’s schedule at this point of the season, and Houston is 25th,” Palm said. “The only thing really Baylor has going for it is they put up basketball scores. Jeff Long talked about their explosive offense. I just think that’s really all you have is an explosive offense. Against the teams that they’re playing, you should have an explosive offense. Houston has had an explosive offense, too. (Baylor is) beating teams by about five touchdowns a game and Houston’s beating teams by about four touchdowns a game. Baylor and Houston’s profiles are a lot more similar than No. 6 and No. 25 would indicate.”
Baylor’s strength of schedule is one of the worst in America. The Bears do, however, have a back-heavy slate, as they play three ranked teams in the span of 13 days later this month: against No. 15 Oklahoma (7-1), at No. 14 Oklahoma State (8-0) and at No. 8 TCU (8-0).