With this week's College Football Playoff rankings to be released, we take a look at the biggest stories, preview key matches and predict top six.
This week's story: Who's No. 1?
The College Footballoff Playoff Committee has decided to top the rankings.
The Committee put the Buckeyes at the top last week's first rankings with LSU at No. 2, but after the Tigers beat Alabama, arguably the biggest win of any team this season, there is a chance the committee moves the Tigers ahead of the Buckeyes, though Ohio State looked dominant again in 73-14 victory.
While there is still a lot of time and football to play before the College Football Playoff final rankings are revealed, tonight will give us our first indications of how the committee views LSU in relation to Ohio State.
If the Tigers are ahead of Ohio State, there is a high chance that it is only temporary. The Buckeyes have two regular season games left against which numbers to rank opponents in Penn State and Michigan as well as a potential Big Ten Championship matchup with the Big Ten West winner. Winning those games would improve Ohio State's resume and give the Buckeyes a chance to take on the No. 1
On the other hand, if LSU doesn't go ahead of Ohio State this week, it will unlikely happen the rest of the season if both teams continue to win. The Tigers do not face another ranked team this season, other than a potential SEC matchup, and cannot drastically improve their resume while the Buckeyes can with two regular season matches remaining against ranked opponents. If Ohio State remains No. 1 and wins, the gap between LSU and the Buckeyes in the eyes of the committee will only widen.
Anyway, it starts tonight with whatever team the committee puts on No. 1.
How far is Alabama?
The committee must also decide where to rank Alabama after losing against LSU. On the one hand, Alabama does not have a strong win or strength of schedule to help balance a loss, but on the other hand it is also one of the most forgiving losses of the season so far as it was one of the nation's top teams.
Tonight, we're starting to see if the committee will give Alabama the benefit of the doubt despite its relatively weak schedule, or whether they're penalizing the tide for not winning their only ranked matchup of the season so far.
Where is Minnesota?
The Gophers are undefeated but did not receive much respect in the original College Football Playoff rankings because of its relatively soft schedule up to that point. The Gophers, however, stayed undefeated this weekend by managing Penn State – a team that the committee ranked No. 4 last week.
Minnesota will make a significant rise in rankings this week, it's just a matter of how far. Even in the end, the Gophers still have to prove themselves this season with games against Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin that are still on schedule.
How about Baylor?
Baylor is in a similar location to Minnesota last week. The Bears are unbeaten, but without a strong signature win to bolster their playoffs. Baylor took TCU in a comeback victory on overtime this weekend – it's the strongest victory so far – but has its toughest test of the season this week when it hosts Oklahoma.
The Bears were No. 12 in last week's rankings and will probably see some form of unevenness after the best TCU. But this week's rankings don't mean much before a make-or-break game again for The Sooners this weekend.
Predict the top 6
Ohio State debuted at No. 1 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings released last week, but following LSU's 46-41 victory over Alabama, we believe the College Football Playoff Committee will rank the Tigers ahead of the Buckeyes.
2nd Ohio State
The Buckeyes did no wrong this weekend by blasting Maryland 73-14, but it wasn't exactly a revival win over a quality opponent either. At the same time, LSU had what may be the biggest win of the season so far for any playoff contenders, which we believe will push the Tigers over the Buckeyes – at least for now.
Ohio State may still regain the top spot in the coming weeks, but with games against ranked opponents Penn State and Michigan still on the schedule in addition to a potential Big Ten Championship game.
The defending champions were on the outside looking in when the first rankings were released last week, but after two top-four teams fell and the Tigers handled NC State, Clemson now seems square in the playoffs with only games against Wake Forest and South Carolina remaining on slate.
Alabama's College Football Playoff hoped for a hit this week with a loss to LSU, but based on last week's rankings, there's a good chance the Crimson Tide is still in the top-four, at least for this week.
Alabama does not have a strong schedule or a marquee win, but it has the most forgiving loss of any of the one-loss teams, especially compared to Georgia's loss to the undefeated South Carolina.
Georgia may well be the No. 4 team ahead of Alabama this week. It will only depend on how the committee sees the Bulldogs' strong victories over Notre Dame and Florida compared to its poor loss to South Carolina.
The Bulldogs' victory over the Irish and the Gators are both inevitably more impressive than anyone Alabama has beaten so far, but the loss to South Carolina is inevitably worse than the tidal loss to LSU.
However, Georgia has a matchup with Auburn this week and a potential SEC Championship game to boost their resume football Playoff resume.
Like Alabama, Oregon has just one loss against a quality opponent, but doesn't really have any strong gains to increase its resume. The committee ranked # 7 in the first rankings and after a new week there is no indication that Oregon's ranking in the rankings would change drastically.
Note: Here's how we think the College Football Playoff Committee will rank the law, not necessarily how we think they should rank .
Key game this week
- Alabama @ Mississippi State. Alabama looks to bounce back after its first loss of the season.
- Wake Forest @ Clemson. Wake Forest comes from his first loss of the season to Virginia Tech and will probably be undefeated, but is probably the most threatening team Clemson will face for the rest of the season.
- Georgia @ Auburn. This is essentially an endgame for the playoffs. Both teams must win out to keep their playoff hopes alive, even though the Auburns are already narrow.
- Minnesota @ Iowa. Minnesota is unbeaten, but is now facing the next leg of its astonishing dress to end the regular season. After giving Penn State the Gophers travel to Iowa this week and wants to keep their playoff hopes alive.
- Oklahoma @ Baylor. Baylor is undefeated but faces his toughest test of the season against Oklahoma. With that victory, it will strengthen its place in the College Football Playoff race.