CFB Playoff Rankings: The First Week

by Travis Normand

Yesterday, (28 Oct. 2014), the college football playoff committee released its first rankings for the 2014 season.  You can see the rankings in PDF format HERE, or on their website HERE.

In the past, during the BCS era, I would make weekly observations of the BCS poll as it was released.  I am going to try and do the same with the playoff poll.

Upon seeing the first playoff rankings, I was surprised to see Ole Miss (7-1) at number four.  I have no problem with Ole Miss in the number four slot, but I thought their loss at LSU this past Saturday night would have put them further down the list.  After all, LSU (7-2) comes in at 19 in this initial ranking.

If you are thinking that only the winner of the Ole Miss – Mississippi State game will get a playoff spot, think again!

Mississippi State (7-0) is ranked number one, and is scheduled to play Ole Miss on November 29.   If these two schools meet with only one loss between them and still ranked in the top four of the playoff rankings, it will be interesting to see what happens if Ole Miss defeats Mississippi State.  I mention this because if Ole Miss’ loss to LSU isn’t enough to knock them out of the top four, then logic would dictate that a Mississippi State loss to number four Ole Miss shouldn’t be enough to knock Mississippi State out of the top four either.  (In this scenario, it would be Mississippi State’s first loss on the season, and losing to number four Ole Miss would be a better loss than losing to LSU).

While this is the first ranking of the season (and first ranking ever), there is a lot that could happen between now and Nov. 29.  However, if this Mississippi scenario were to play out, it would be a good indicator for judging the playoff committee’s consistency in terms of ranking teams.

Takeaway after one week of rankings:

While many probably didn’t expect to see Ole Miss in the top four after their loss to LSU, it is apparent that the selection committee isn’t going to “punish” teams for a loss like the AP and Coaches’ Poll usually do.  For example, before their loss to LSU, Ole Miss was ranked No. 3 in both the AP and Coaches’ Poll.  However, after their loss, Ole Miss dropped to No. 7 and No. 9, respectively.  Despite these No. 7 and 9 rankings, Ole Miss debuted at No. 4 in the playoff poll.

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