NCAA Football Rankings 2016: Predicting Movers in Week 14 After Latest Results

NCAA Football Rankings 2016: Predicting Movers in Week 14 After Latest Results

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Well, that was quite the wild week, wasn’t it?

A few teams all but punched their tickets to the College Football Playoff. A few more teams kept their hopes alive. And a number of teams were upset as rivalry week claimed its usual slew of victims.

Below, I’ll provide my projections for the College Football Playoff rankings and break down the college football landscape.

College Football Playoff Rankings Predictions
Projected Rank Team Record Previous Rank
1 Alabama 12-0 1
2 Ohio State 11-1 2
3 Clemson 11-1 4
4 Michigan 10-2 3
5 Washington 11-1 5
6 Wisconsin 10-2 6
7 Penn State 10-2 7
8 Colorado 10-2 9
9 Oklahoma 9-2 8
10 USC 9-3 11
11 Oklahoma State 9-2 10
12 Florida State 9-3 14
13 West Virginia 8-2 18
14 Western Michigan 12-0 21
15 Stanford 9-3 24
16 Auburn 8-4 13
17 Louisville 9-3 11
18 Florida 8-3 15
19 Navy 9-2 25
20 Nebraska 9-3 16
21 Iowa 8-4 N/R
22 Virginia Tech 9-3 N/R
23 LSU 7-4 N/R
24 Boise State 10-2 19
25 Utah 8-4 22


Don’t be surprised if Michigan doesn’t drop out of the top four.

Let’s review what just happened to the Wolverines. They lost to the No. 2 team in the nation, on the road, in double overtime. You could make the argument they shouldn’t drop in the rankings at all, though with a Clemson team below them that has wins over Louisville and Florida State, the Wolverines will likely drop at least one spot.

But will they drop below Washington? That’s not only a real question now, but Washington’s status with the College Football Playoff Committee is now arguably the biggest story of the college football season.

Alabama and Ohio State, more than likely, are locks for the playoff. Alabama doesn’t need to win the SEC title game based on the resume it’s already compiled, while Ohio State has the most impressive resume in college football with wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan and a road loss to Penn State.

Clemson is a lock so long as it wins the ACC title game, which leaves one spot hanging in the balance. And boy, are a lot of teams going to potentially lay claim to that spot.

If Washington beats Colorado in the Pac-12 title game, it’ll have quite the case. Ditto for Oklahoma if it closes its season by beating Oklahoma State. The winner of the Big Ten title, either Wisconsin or Penn State, will have an excellent resume. And then there’s Michigan, the team that may actually be the best of the bunch.

In the above scenario, Washington is the deserving team. Wins over Stanford, Utah, Washington State and Colorado—with only a loss to a very, very good USC team—is a strong enough resume to warrant a playoff spot. 

Of course, things could get really wild with a few losses thrown into the mix, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk tweeted:

For this week, however, I don’t think the committee will drop Michigan below Washington based on the quality of Michigan’s loss. I think a win over Colorado will be enough to get the Huskies into the top four, but for now, Michigan’s descent shouldn’t be dramatic. 

In general, the top 10 shouldn’t look too much different than it did a week ago. Colorado and USC may each bump up a spot, but in general, the top of the rankings shouldn’t alter significantly.

After that, however, things get interesting, as a huge number of ranked teams lost this week.

The biggest beneficiaries will be West Virginia (five spots), Navy (six spots), Western Michigan (seven spots) and Stanford (nine spots). A few teams may jump into the rankings, meanwhile, namely Iowa, Virginia Tech and LSU, while I expect schools like Tennessee, Houston and Washington State to drop out of the rankings entirely.

So yes, there will be movement. But ultimately, it’s only the first four teams that really matter. Barring a number of losses in conference title games, Michigan probably won’t finish the season in the top four. But it seems unjust to move them to No. 5 after they were oh so close to knocking off Ohio State in the game of the season.


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