The first ranking of college football teams for CFP (College Football Playoffs) came out last night. It will be the weekly yardstick used to determine which four teams will make it to the CFP a month from now. The initial top four teams are 1. Clemson, 2. LSU, 3. Ohio State, and 4. Alabama.
College football got it right with this system. The college schedule is broken down into three time frames, each consisting of four regular season games. The 130 teams in Div. 1A are broken down into two groups of 65 teams each, the Power V and the Group of Five. The Power V Conferences are the PAC 12, the Big 12, the SEC, the Big Ten, the ACC and Notre Dame.
The remaining 65 teams form the Group of Five lower ranked teams.
In the first four weeks of the season, Power V plays Group of Five primarily for two reasons: one is to prepare for Power V conference play, and the other is to give a nice payday to visiting Group of Five teams. They are generally, but not always, one-sided victories for Power V but Idaho got big bucks a couple of years ago to come and play Florida. A lighting storm cancelled their game, and what might have been a fifty-point beating turned into a million dollar ride home.
The second third of the season sees Power V teams playing primarily conference foes, positioning themselves for the stretch run and bowl game placements by achieving a high ranking according to the Associated Press weekly polls.
The final third of the season is the one-month sprint to the finish line consisting of traditional rivalry games and conference title contests. From here on out, the AP poll turns over authority to a group of 12 football associated people who will rank teams for each week of the final month.
To give you an idea of how much exciting football lies ahead, here is a smorgasbord of what to expect down the stretch based upon current rankings.
Four plays two and the winner plays ten who also plays sixteen in a traditional season ending game, three plays seven with the winner playing nine, one plays sixteen who also plays ten and one will then play another division champion, six plays eight and both play thirteen and fourteen, five plays eleven who then also plays a conference championship game probably against twelve.
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With three one-loss teams in the current top ten, it’s quite possible that one of them, Alabama, Notre Dame, or Florida, would make the final four. And Alabama did. The biggest advance in the poll was Notre Dame, a two-point loser to number one Clemson, leapfrogging three undefeated teams to secure the coveted number five slot.
Three of the Power V conferences make up the current Final Four, the absent two being the PAC 12 and the Big 12, the latter more commonly referred to as the Flag Football Conference because their games consistently run up more than a hundred total point with little presence of defense, a fact which no doubt convinced some of the purists on the CFP Committee of the unworthiness of a higher ranking.
There are no high enough ranked members of the Group of Five to contend for inclusion in the Final Four.
In the final month, All-Americans will step up, traditional games will produce heroes for the ages, coaches will be severely criticized, referees will be questioned, selectors will be quizzed, memories will be made, fans will be thrilled, and the game of college football will become even better.
So, rustle up those lazy boys, set those televisions to record, tailgate to your heart’s delight, cheer home your favorites, and wake up the echoes.
America’s true national pastime is taking center stage.