Observations on the first set of College Football Playoff rankings. (How’s that for a snappy lede?)
— Were I Washington, I wouldn’t worry just yet. The CFP committee — only in its third year of existence, we emphasize — places a high premium on winning a conference. (No non-titlist has made the first two editions of the field of four.) If the Huskies, who are No. 5 to Texas A&M’s No. 4, finish as undefeated Pac-12 champs, they’ll make it. Owing to their flimsy non-conference schedule, they won’t be any better than the No. 4 seed, but they’ll make it.
— The committee is as high on Florida as I am, meaning not very. The one-loss leader of the SEC East is ranked No. 11, behind two-loss Wisconsin, which nearly lost to Georgia State, and two-loss Auburn, which came within a second against LSU of being three-loss Auburn. (And LSU, even with an interim coach, is No. 13.) This not just in: The East is terrible.
— The Big 12 has no chance of putting a team in the playoff. Its highest-ranking member is Oklahoma at No. 14. The Big 12 — stop me if you’ve heard this already — is a mess. It’s adding a title game but not expanding. Texas and Oklahoma have to be making eyes toward yonder exit door.
— If there’s one very good team that should be sweating bullets, it’s Louisville. The Cardinals are No. 7 with no clear path upward. They’re third among one-loss teams, behind Texas A&M and No. 6 Ohio State. Houston’s losses to Navy and SMU have devalued that Nov. 17 game. The rest of the Louisville schedule consists of Boston College, Wake Forest and Kentucky. Even if Clemson should lose the ACC title game — there’s not much chance of it losing before then — the Tigers would make the field of four over Louisville on the strength of head-to-head.
— For all Clemson’s struggles, it’s sitting pretty. I’ll admit it: I haven’t been nearly as impressed by the 2016 Tigers as I was by last season’s crew, but they’re nonetheless unbeaten. If they stay that way (and they should), they’ll be a lock for No. 2 seed and again miss Alabama in the semis.
— The Big Ten will get one team in the playoff. The winner of Michigan-Ohio State will make it. If that winner should be upset in the Big Ten title game, Texas A&M will be tickled pink and Jim Delaney will have a cow.
— Alabama fans might want to book a Peachtree Street condominium for the month of December. The Tide will surely be here for the SEC championship game on Dec. 3, and Bama figures to be back for the Peach Bowl semifinal on New Year’s Eve.
— As for Alabama’s opponent in the SEC title tilt: Anybody up for a Bama-Kentucky rematch? The first meeting ended 34-6, but the Dome, as we know, has long been the beating heart of Catlanta. (Though that game might be the second-biggest on UK’s athletic calendar for Dec. 3. The basketball team plays UCLA at Rupp Arena — also on CBS!)