Following the 2021 College Football Playoff Rankings (Week-by-Week)

by Travis Normand

As always, I will try to post weekly thoughts and observations on the weekly college football playoff rankings.

Week 1 – Released 11/2/2021

Note 1.1: Alabama (7-1) at number 2 is the first 1-loss team to be ranked in the top-2 of the initial playoff rankings.

Note 1.2: Cincinnati (8-0) at number 6 is the highest ranking for a “Group of 5” team.

Note 1.3: There are six undefeated teams remaining and UTSA (8-0) is the only one not ranked in the top-25.

Note 1.4: In every one of the initial playoff rankings from 2014 to 2020, there has been an ACC team in the top-5; and each of those ACC teams had a record of 7-0, 8-0, 7-1, or 9-0. Therefore, the initial rankings of 2021 is the first time that the initial rankings did not have an ACC team in the top-5 (despite the fact that Wake Forest is 8-0 and was ranked 9th).

Continue reading

College Football Playoff: “Firsts,” “Nevers,” & “Not Yets”

by Travis Normand
December 9, 2020

I am posting these here in order make them easier to ‘track,’ and to see if any of these change this season.

As of the 2020 college football season, and before the 2020-2021 playoff, the following are still true:

(1) A 2-loss team has never made the college football playoff (and so far, being a Power-5 Conference Champion has not been sufficient to overcome the 2-loss barrier, see 2016 Penn State … at least when there is another team from the same conference with only 1-loss);

Continue reading

Following the COVID-Football Pandemic-Playoff (2020)

by Travis Normand
First Published on December 2, 2020

If you follow this site, you have seen my other College Football Playoff related posts before. If not, you can find most of those posts under the “Playoff” category; or you can go to this link (which is my comprehensive and on-going playoff post).

I have decided to start this new post for all of my notes related to the 2020 Playoff. Once the playoff is over on January 11, 2021, I will probably add the more important aspects from this post to the comprehensive post.

For those of you reading this for the first time, this is not an editorial style posting. This is merely my unedited notes from each week of the playoff rankings, which helps me (and others) track what the rankings/committee are doing, and whether they are following any precedent. Enjoy!

Continue reading

2020-2021 Playoff Prediction: G5

by Travis Normand

In this the 7th season of the College Football Playoff, I am predicting that a team from the Group of Five Conferences (“G5”) will finally be awarded one of the four semifinalists spots. The only question that remains is “which” team will it be?

With only three Power-5 conferences playing this 2020-2021 season (and Notre Dame playing as part of the ACC), the committee can select one SEC team, one ACC team, and one Big 12 team; and they will then still have one spot remaining. This final spot can be given to an at-large Power-5 school or a G5 school.

Considering all that is going on with college football during this COVID-19 season, if the final spot is given to a Power-5 school (thus including every Power-5 conference and one of them getting two bids), you will hear an intensified argument about how the College Football Playoff is actually designed to exclude the G5 schools.

Continue reading

College Football Playoff History (and Precedent)

CFP Playoff TrophyTravis Normand
Originally Published on Nov. 7, 2017;
Updated: (1) Nov. 14, 2017 (Post-rankings); (2) Nov. 26, 2017; (3) Dec. 3, 2017 (Post-final rankings); (4)
Nov. 29, 2018; (5) Dec. 12, 2018 (Post-final rankings); (6) Dec. 8, 2019.

This post has not yet been completely edited or finalized due to the nature of the constantly-changing information it contains. I am posting it as a rough-draft in order to make sure the information is relevant and timely. I will try and update this post as necessary; please bare with me as the in-season information is constantly changing.

As of September 10, 2020: 

To date, 24 teams have been selected for the first six playoffs. Of those 24 teams, 21 have been undefeated, or 1-loss, Power-5 conference champions. Of the other 3 remaining teams, two of those were 1-loss Power-5 teams that did not play in their conference championship game; and one was an undefeated independent team (Notre Dame). No Power-5 team with two or more losses has been selected (regardless of their status as a conference champion); and no team from the “Group of Five” (or G5) has been selected.


Below you will find a break-down of each of the CFP selections starting with the first in 2014. Under each year you will find:

  1. a break-down of the top 4;
  2. a discussion regarding the selection for that year; and
  3. a follow-up discussion after the CFP is over and how it played out.

You will also find (typically) a running discussion that evaluates the precedent of the CFP selection which is usually written at the time of that year’s selection and is therefore not updated later if the information changes. For example, under a particular year, like 2017, it may say that only 2 & 4 seeds have won the CFP. If a number 1 seed later wins the CFP in 2019, I have likely not gone back and updated the statement from 2017 (so read the 2017 statement as a fact that was true at that particular time). I have tried to make these year-by-year sections fairly similar so that they are easy to compare, but that has not worked out as perfectly as I had hoped.

Next, after all of the CFP years have been discussed, there is another discussion that follows. It is primarily a discussion of what has happened in all CFP selections, or a synthesis of information. In other words, some may find it helpful to skip to that section if you are not interested in reading the year-by-year breakdown. I believe I titled that section “Precedent & History.”

Finally, there is a “Legend” at the very end. However, having the legend at the bottom worked great when this post first started (as it was fairly short); however, I am now including it here at the top so that you will see it before you go through the post (and so that you won’t have to scroll to the bottom in order to figure out what the symbols mean).


  • CFP = College Football Playoff.
  • SOS = Strength of Schedule
  • Bold = CFP National Champion.
  • *  = Runner-up / Lost National Championship Game.
  • # = Conference Champion, but not via a Conference Championship Game.
  • & = Non-Conference Champion.


This post reviews what has happened in prior CFP decisions, tries to digest those decisions into some kind of logical explanation, and then considers possible scenarios for future CFP selections. While I don’t believe the CFP Committee wants there to be a “precedent” that would dictate how a particular CFP decision should go, it is fascinating to watch the decision making process as it plays out. Also, whether they like it or not, if the Committee takes a particular course of action over and over, or makes the same type of decision based on the same criteria, they are effectively setting some kind of precedent. It may not be precedent that they are required to follow, but reversing course and making decisions that are completely contrary to their own prior decisions (with no logical explanation) will have potential negative effects on the CFP.

Continue reading

Pre-Season 2015 Hype

by Travis Normand

Here are a couple of teams that received a lot of pre-season hype.  As of right now, I am not buying into the excitement . . . but that could change.

  1. Tennessee:  I hope the Vols do well this season, but I will believe it when I see it.
  2. Arizona State:  I think ASU could be a good team but I don’t understand why they started out with a top 15 ranking.
  3. Baylor:  I think Baylor will be a playoff contender, but with their current schedule, I just can’t take them seriously.  Maybe I will start believing once they defeat a quality opponent in a bowl game.
  4. Notre Dame:  They looked very good against the Longhorns in their first game of the season, but that isn’t saying much.  I hope they do well, but am not yet sold that they will make a run at the playoff.  I could be wrong.
  5. Auburn:  With the loss of so many key players from 2014, an 8-5 (4-4) record last year, and a mediocre opening 2015 game against Louisville, I just don’t understand all the hype.

Update: I believe I was arguably right on 1-4 above.  However, there is no question that I was right on Auburn.  Auburn finished in last place of the SEC West (7-6, 2-6).

Playoff Pundit: Auburn wins first playoff game!

CFBP - 86Kby Travis Normand

With Auburn ranked No. 3 and Ole Miss No. 4 in the first playoff poll, their game tonight was the first head-to-head match-up between two playoff bound teams.  In other words, their game was essentially a playoff game, as I can only imagine that the winner would still be considered for one of the four playoff spots (the loser would have two losses, as both teams already had one loss entering the game).

Auburn ended up defeating Ole Miss, 35-31.  It was a close game, so it will be interesting to see what the playoff committee does with Ole Miss in terms of how far down the rankings they move them.  On the other hand, No. 2 Florida State struggled Thursday night against No. 25 Louisville and No. 1 Mississippi State struggled against Arkansas, so it will be interesting to see if the top three get shuffled.

Finally, No. 5 Oregon won their game against Stanford, 45-16.  With No. 6 Alabama having a bye-week and No. 7 TCU winning 31-30 over No. 20 West Virginia, I can only imagine that Oregon will assume No. 4 playoff spot/rank.

Understanding the CFB Playoff (Part 2)

by Travis Normand

For those of you who want to understand all of the idiosyncrasies of the playoff selection process, I would like to recommend two readings for you.  Consider this your recommended reading list in your “Playoff 101” course.

  1. Selection Committee Protocol:  How to select the four best teams to compete for the college football national championship (Adopted unanimously by the BCS Group – June 20, 2012).  – Posted here:
  2. Selection Committee FAQs – Posted here:

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.

Understanding the CFB Playoff

by Travis Normand

A couple of weeks ago, select members of the media participated in a mock college football playoff selection meeting.  Andy Staples’ wrote about the event and how the selection process worked.  His article was fascinating and can be found at or at the following link:

Mock selection exercise raises issues actual playoff committee will face, by Andy Staples of, Friday, October 10, 2014.

I highly recommend his article to anyone who really wants to understand how the process of selecting playoff teams will work.

Other articles on how the CFB Playoff selection will work: