The College Football Playoff committee released their first rankings of the year on Tuesday as the road to the Playoff begins. With that, it's time to return with our rankings and projecting what the New Year's Six bowl games could be. From this point forward, we will rank the top 12 teams as the Playoff expands to a field of 12 next season. So, might as well have a look at what the field would look like if expansion had been implemented this year.
1. Florida State (8-0, 6-0)
Seeing the College Football Playoff committee rank Florida State as low as four was a little surprising. That is because FBS opponents the Seminoles have beaten to this point, have the second-highest winning percentage of any other undefeated teams. They also don't have an FCS school on their schedule, unlike the likes of Ohio State (No. 1 in the CFP rankings) and Georgia (No. 2 in the CFP rankings). The Seminoles beat down a really solid LSU team in Week 1, which is currently ranked within the top 15. They did almost blow a 21-point lead to Boston College and it took overtime for them to get by Clemson, but the wins and the resume are what matter at this point. As long as the Seminoles win out, there is no reason they won't be in The Playoff. Jordan Travis has been mighty impressive and is well on his way to securing a trip to Broadway for the Heisman Trophy ceremony as one of the finalists.
2. Ohio State (8-0, 5-0)
The Buckeyes have two top-25 wins on their resume to this point and are on a collision course with the next team in these rankings, the Michigan Wolverines. They outlasted both Penn State and Notre Dame in what were defensive battles, but their offense hasn't shown a whole lot. Marvin Harrison Jr. has been carrying that offense, as he will likely be a Heisman finalist and be a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Kyle McCord just doesn't have the "it" factor for my liking. Their two wins were because of their defense and the two offenses they faced aren't proven enough, either. The Seminoles offense has more firepower than the Buckeyes and I believe they would give the Ohio State defense a lot more to handle than the other two top teams they have faced so far. Hell, I honestly think Michigan will handle them. But, you never know. That's why we play the game.
3. Georgia (8-0, 5-0)
The reigning National Champion Bulldogs have taken care of business in the win column, but haven't exactly blown everyone out of the water like we are accustomed to seeing. That is the case despite their opponents having the lowest winning percentage among the other unbeatens. The big tests are coming up, in Missouri, Ole Miss, and Tennessee in the next three weeks. Once we're past those games, we'll know more about who this Georgia team is. For now, they are right in the mix for The Playoffs, but it's tough to tell if they have what it takes to repeat as champions.
4. Michigan (8-0, 5-0)
Did someone mention Michigan? Oh, right. The Michigan that has outscored their opponents 325-47 so far. However, they have yet to play much of a quality opponent. (Yeah, I know you have to take care of business no matter who you play and they have done so with ease). They will do just that a week from Saturday when they travel to Happy Valley to face the Penn State Nittany Lions. This matchup is much bigger for Penn State at this point to keep their Playoff hopes alive, and more so a litmus test for the Wolverines. If they lose, they can still potentially make the playoffs if they beat the Buckeyes. Penn State will be eliminated from contention with a loss. J.J. McCarthy has quickly joined the Heisman conversation as well and has risen up the draft boards for the 2024 Draft. They are certainly deserving of being in this spot right now, but I have to see what McCarthy and the Wolverines do when they play a legitimate defense. Penn State very much has a championship-caliber defense.
5. Washington (8-0, 5-0)
Georgia is the only team in the top five to not have a Heisman contender. The Heisman hopeful for the Washington Huskies is Michael Penix Jr., who currently leads the odds list at +275 on BetMGM. Penix is a huge reason why his Huskies are standing alone at the top of the Pac-12 standings. He struggled against Arizona State - which could have been partially a hangover from Oregon but bounced back in a big way on the road against Stanford on Saturday. So far this season, he has thrown for 24 touchdowns to six interceptions and has a 69 percent completion percentage. The Indiana transfer will face off against reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams and the USC Trojans this Saturday night. Washington and Penix have a big win against Oregon on their resume and have put up big numbers offensively.
6. Oregon (7-1, 4-1)
As we get into the one-loss teams, it's about ranking what loss was the "best" for a resume. The Ducks have the "best" loss of the other teams, as they only lost a close three-point game to the team above them in the rankings. Since that loss, they have also bounced back with a win over Washington State, and a trouncing of ranked Utah. Oregon has shown to be a dominant offense behind Bo Nix and could be on a crash course for a rematch with Washington in the Pac-12 Championship. They're a very dangerous team with just one blemish on their resume.
7. Texas (7-1, 4-1)
The Longhorns finished off what they couldn't last year, and that was defeating Alabama, which sees them one slot ahead of the Crimson Tide. Many thought that was the beginning of the end for Nick Saban's Tide, they have rattled off six straight wins since then - albeit not always pretty. It was a tremendous resume builder, and if both teams win out, Texas is in certain Playoff contention. If it weren't for a loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry a few weeks ago, Texas would be undefeated and likely be ranked in the top 5. No matter what, the Longhorns have well-positioned themselves for at least a New Year's Six berth
8. Alabama (7-1, 5-0)
This week will make or break any chance that the Crimson Tide has of still making The Playoff. They host the LSU Tigers on Saturday night. A loss would also make the path to a New Year's Six Bowl a bit tougher for the Tide, as they would have two losses and be in jeopardy of even winning the SEC West.
9. Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1)
After beating Texas, you would think the Sooners would be ahead of the Red River rivals. But then last week, Oklahoma was ousted by Kansas in a game in which their passing attack, or lack thereof was exposed. Heisman candidate Dillon Gabriel only attempted 13 passes going into the final drive, with Gabriel hoping to lead them to a win. The passes he attempted were essentially dink and dunks, and the Sooners never really took shots downfield. How Oklahoma bounces back from that loss will show us who they are as they face another rival in Oklahoma State.
10. Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1)
With big wins against Tulane and LSU on their resume, Ole Miss has themselves lined up for a chance at a big bowl game. Jaxson Dart has been outstanding, throwing for over 2,000 yards on the season, plus 14 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Dart was nearly flawless in the LSU win, throwing four touchdown passes and completing 26 of 39 passes. Losing against Alabama will keep them from having a shot at winning the SEC title, but a New Year's Six is certainly a possibility.
First Two Out:
11. Penn State (7-1, 4-1)
12. Missouri (7-1, 3-1)
College Football Playoff Projections
Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Michigan
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia
New Year Six Bowls
Orange Bowl: Louisville vs. Alabama
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Washington
Peach Bowl: Texas vs. Notre Dame
Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs. Oregon
Main Image via