Predicting the fourth release of the College Football Playoff Rankings – Buckeyes Wire

Ohio State offensive line and receivers

And, here we go again. The fourth installment of the College Football Playoff Rankings will be announced on Tuesday night, and there will be some changes at the top once again, especially with Oregon’s loss at Utah.

We still expect the usual contenders we’ve seen this season like Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State near the top, but how will things line up behind that. The Ducks’ loss has opened the door somewhat for teams like Cincinnati, Michigan, and Notre Dame, but there’s still a couple of weeks to go with the conference championship games still out there.

As always here on Buckeyes Wire, we don’t wait for the CFP Committee to use whatever group-think that permeates the rankings on Tuesday, but rather, we try to peer into their thinking based on what we’ve seen before to predict what the CFP Rankings will be early in the week.

Here is what we believe you’ll see (or close to it) with the fourth release of the College Football Playoff Rankings.

25

Mississippi State (7-4)

Mississippi State Helmet

Dec. 26, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; A Mississippi State Bulldogs helmet on the field prior to the game between the Miami Redhawks and the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Tropicana Field. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

The Bulldogs found themselves back in the rankings after the Auburn win a week ago, and there’s no reason to move them too far after a beatdown to Tennessee State. There won’t be much movement either way.

24

Houston Cougars (10-1)

Houston Cougars

Oct 30, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars wide receiver KeSean Carter (20) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at TDECU Stadium. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Houston has very quietly won ten in a row after dropping the first contest of the year to Texas Tech. There’s a lack of a real statement win in there, but it’s hard to rattle off that many victories in a row. The Cougars won’t move up much, but they won’t go anywhere downward either.

23

UTSA (11-0)

UTSA Helmet

Oct. 21, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; UTSA Roadrunners helmet on the turf after winning 20-7 against the Rice Owls. John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

UTSA has never had the respect of the committee, but the Roadrunners are just one of the three remaining undefeated teams in FBS, so that’s got to count for something. A miracle finish to beat UAB won’t impress anyone, but UTSA has still done enough to be in the latter part of the rankings.

22

Clemson Tigers (8-3)

Ohio State football: The only 8 teams to beat OSU under Meyer and Day

Nov 7, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney signals to his players in the second quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

I have a very good feeling about Clemson being welcomed back into the rankings after beating a highly ranked Wake Forest team on Saturday. The Tigers have now won four in a row and have quietly gotten better production from an offense that had struggled at the beginning of the year. The Tigers now deserved to be ranked but we still can’t ignore the average play through the first half of the year.

21

NC State (8-3)

NC State football

Oct 30, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive players celebrate a turnover on downs by the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack won 28-13. Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

NC State continues to look like a pretty complete football team after blowing out Syracuse 41-17. Look for a slight boost this week from where the Wolfpack were in last week’s rankings.

20

San Diego State (10-1)

Brady Hoke San Diego State

Dec 12, 2020; Provo, UT, USA; San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke talks to other coaches before an NCAA college football game against BYU Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Credit: George Frey/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Brady Hoke has his Aztecs team with ten wins on the season now. It’s not always been super impressive, but that win over Utah earlier in the year looks better and better each week. There’s no reason for much movement, either way, this week after an eight-point win over UNLV.

19

Wake Forest (9-2)

Sam Hartman Wake Forest

Nov 6, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks to pass in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

It has been one of the best seasons in Winston-Salem for a long, long time, but we’re seeing the Demon Deacons get exposed here as they play better competition. Clemson handed Wake Forest its second loss of the season, and there will be a significant drop. With Pitt’s wins over like opponents Clemson and UNC, you have to think the Panthers move ahead.

18

Pittsburgh Panthers (9-2)

Kenny Pickett Pitt

Nov 11, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) passes against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Is Pitt the best team in the ACC? It’s sure looking like it behind quarterback Kenny Pickett and an offense that can put up a gob of points on the opposition. A close win against an average Virginia squad won’t make a case to move the Panthers up very much despite having just two losses on the season.

17

Iowa (9-2)

Kirk Ferentz Iowa Hawkeyes

(Bryon Houlgrave / Des Moines Register – USA TODAY Network)

Why the ranking?

After regressing for two-straight weeks midseason, Iowa has pushed the pendulum back the other way with three-straight wins. The Hawkeyes aren’t flashy, but they still have some pretty solid wins with an outside shot at still getting to Indy to play for a Big Ten title depending on what Wisconsin does next week.

16

Utah (8-3)

Ohio State and what name, image, and likeness means for its athletics

Nov 30, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes fans show their spirit against the Colorado Buffaloes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Utah is looking better and better as the season progresses, especially after knocking off No. 3 Oregon on Saturday for the best win of any team this past week. Look for Utah to make a significant jump — maybe the biggest jump in the rankings after four-straight victories.

15

Texas A&M (8-3)

Devon Achane of Texas AM

Sep 4, 2021; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Devon Achane (6) celebrates his touchdown in the third quarter against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Kyle Field. Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

There’s not really much we can take from many of the SEC teams this week. Texas A&M destroyed a very undermanned Prairie View Saturday. It’s been an up and down season for the Aggies, but the win over Alabama is one of the best any teams in college football have to date. So, not much movement this week.

14

Wisconsin (8-3)

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Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) scores a touchdown in the second quarter against Army, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Wisconsin sure looks like it has figured things out from early in the season when turnovers and mistakes came in bunches. It was a close one against Nebraska, but the Badgers still got a win to remain in about the same spot as last week.

13

BYU (9-2)

BYU Cougars Football

Oct 30, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Tyler Allgeier (25) runs in for a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

In most years, BYU wouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt, but there are a lot of games against Power Five teams, including wins over Utah and Arizona State. The Cougars also played Baylor close, so all of that has led to a pretty high ranking. There won’t be much movement here either after a win over Georgia Southern.

12

Michigan State (9-2)

Ohio State vs. Michigan State: 5 things to know about the Spartans

Sep 3, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; The Michigan State Spartans celebrate their win over the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. The Michigan State Spartans won 38-21. Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

It’s hard to figure out what the committee is going to do with the Spartans. It already had Michigan State below a Michigan team it beat head-to-head, and now there’s a really bad result against Ohio State to throw into the mix. We say Mel Tucker’s team falls pretty far after what we saw on Saturday.

11

Oklahoma (10-1)

Caleb Williams Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams (13) lines up for a play during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. Oklahoma won 52-31. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

The committee hasn’t had a ton of respect for Oklahoma because of all of the close shaves, but the Sooners have found a way to win all but one contest. It was another close game against Iowa State, but yet another effort to pull it out against a talented team. The Sooners stay in the same neighborhood and look to make a statement in Bedlam next week.

10

Ole Miss (9-2)

Matt Corrall Ole Miss

Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral (2) during a football game between Tennessee and Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Ole Miss beat up on Vanderbilt, and that doesn’t really tell us much. The reality is that the Rebels are 9-2 in the league that the committee loves, so Lane Kiffin’s crew will remain with a pretty lofty ranking after a couple of wins over ranked opponents.

9

Baylor (9-2)

Terrel Bernard Baylor

Nov 13, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; A view of the Baylor Bears students and fans as they celebrate with linebacker Terrel Bernard (2) on the field after the game between the Baylor Bears and the Oklahoma Sooners at McLane Stadium. Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Everyone is talking about Oklahoma and Oklahoma State’s matchup next week, but if things fall correctly, the Bears are ready to bound up the rankings. The wins over Oklahoma and BYU are two solid wins that the committee loves.

8

Oregon (9-2)

What Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said about Ohio State postgame

Sep 11, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal during the second quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

The big question here is how far does Oregon fall after getting smoked by Utah? I don’t think you can put the Ducks ahead of many of the one-loss Power Five teams, so look for them to fall just behind Oklahoma State. The win over Ohio State still has to count for something in separating the two-loss squads, right?

7

Oklahoma State (10-1)

Oklahoma State football

Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders (3) celebrates during a 24-14 win against Baylor on Oct. 2. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

How much do we really know about the Cowboys? There’s just one loss, of the 3-point variety vs. Iowa State, but there’s only one win over a ranked opponent. Still, the Cowboys have looked impressive and have the win over Oklahoma. Those two combos seem to be what the committee is looking at more than anything else. The loss by Michigan State moves Mike Gundy’s crew ever so closer to the top four.

6

Notre Dame (10-1)

Brian Kelly Notre Dame sidelines

Sep 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly instructs players during the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Soldier Field. Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

The lone loss to Cincinnati may end up costing Notre Dame a CFP spot, but the Irish have just hung around in the waiting room looking for an opportunity to move up. Slowly but surely, that’s exactly what is happening. The Irish have looked impressive aside from the game against the Bearcats but there’s not a whole lot of teeth in the schedule. The Wisconsin win might end up making a world of difference if a few more things go Notre Dame’s way ahead of it.

5

Michigan (10-1)

NFL scouts paint grim picture of state of Michigan football program

Nov. 21, 2020; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh talks with his team before the overtime against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Give credit where credit is due. Michigan has continued to improve throughout the season and now looks like a pretty complete football team with some impressive wins on the season. Everything is there for the taking if the Wolverines can break the Buckeye curse this coming weekend. The Wolverines will move up even further after the Oregon loss.

4

Cincinnati (11-0)

Luke Fickell Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell leads the Cincinnati Bearcats onto the field to warm up before the NCAA football game between Cincinnati Bearcats and Murray State Racers on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

The committee has tried about as hard as it can to keep Cincinnati out of the top four, but that may have to end after Oregon’s loss. The schedule isn’t great, but Cincy remains undefeated with the all-important win over Notre Dame. Welcome to the big boy club, Luke. The Bearcats might just find a way to claw their way into the CFP.

3

Ohio State (10-1)

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Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) and defensive tackle Taron Vincent (6) make their way through fans that stormed the field following the 33-24 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Ohio State looked more impressive than any other team in the country by blowing out No. 7 Michigan State. The Buckeyes should probably be moved up to No. 2 after the loss by Oregon and the close game Alabama had against a lower-ranked Arkansas team. Don’t bank on it though. The committee loves itself some Crimson Tide. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter, but we’ll see if the committee proves me wrong here and does the right thing. Don’t hold your breath.

2

Alabama (10-1)

Alabama quarterback Bryce

Oct 23, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) celebrates after a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

We continue to see chinks in the armor for Alabama, but it’s still Alabama and the Tide has continued to get puffed up by the committee. Look for Nick Saban’s crew to stay at No. 2 after a close battle with Arkansas, and with the Iron Bowl on tap. Then, it might be on to face big, bad Georgia. The question everyone is asking: Will the committee dare put a two-loss Alabama team in the CFP?

1

Georgia (11-0)

Georgia football vs. Vandy

Sep 25, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) runs the ball during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Why the ranking?

Need we even say anything here? We can’t wait to see what happens when the Bulldogs face Alabama. Other than that, it’s clear that Georgia is No. 1 right now, but I’d love to see Ohio State’s offense against the UGA defense. So would the rest of the country.

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