College Football Playoff Rankings: Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Alabama in Top Four

Clemson Watson

The Clemson Tigers, LSU Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Alabama Crimson Tide are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2015. The College Football Playoff Committee released its first rankings on Tuesday, and here are the top 25 teams:

1. Clemson (8-0)
2. LSU (7-0)
3. Ohio State (8-0)
4. Alabama (7-1)
5. Notre Dame (7-1)
6. Baylor (7-0)
7. Michigan State (8-0)
8. TCU (8-0)
9. Iowa (8-0)
10. Florida (7-1)
11. Stanford (7-1)
12. Utah (7-1)
13. Memphis (8-0)
14. Oklahoma State (8-0)
15. Oklahoma (7-1)
16. Florida State (7-1)
17. Michigan (6-2)
18. Ole Miss (7-1)
19. Texas A&M (6-2)
20. Mississippi State (6-2)
21. Northwestern (6-2)
22. Temple (7-1)
23. UCLA (6-2)
24. Toledo (7-0)
25. Houston (8-0)

The rankings will surely change next week as LSU and Alabama will face off in their annual November showdown on Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa. Clemson will face nemesis Florida State this weekend, and a victory over the Seminoles in what is a weak Atlantic Coast Conference may punch Clemson’s ticket into the playoffs. Ohio State (#1 in the AP poll), without quarterback J.T. Barrett, who was suspended for a game for operating a vehicle under the influence, will face Minnesota. Barrett may be the better quarterback in the regular season while Cardale Jones may be the better signal-caller in elimination games in the playoffs. Baylor plays at Kansas State without quarterback Seth Russell. Baylor, with its weak strength of schedule, is the toughest team to judge, especially since Jarrett Stidham will now be the quarterback after Russell’s neck injury. TCU will take on Oklahoma State in a battle of undefeated teams. Iowa is favored to win all of its games until the Big Ten championship and may sneak into the playoffs if they beat either Ohio State or Michigan State in the title game. Iowa must root for Michigan not to make it to the Big Ten title game to maximize its chances of making it to the playoffs.

This is the second year of the college football playoffs. The top four teams in last year’s inaugural rankings were:

1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Auburn
4. Mississippi

Only Florida State made the playoffs from that group. Ohio State, which won the national championship, was 16th in the first College Football Playoff rankings last year. Oregon and Alabama were the other two teams in the playoffs—they held the 5th and 6th spots, respectively, in the first rankings of last year.

Oklahoma (15) and Stanford (11) are two teams that could be this year’s Ohio State. Notre Dame and Stanford are on a collision course to play in what may be a de facto national quarterfinal game in Palo Alto at the end of the season if both teams win out. Notre Dame plays Pittsburgh, another team with a tough defense like Temple, this weekend while Stanford has another early Saturday morning kickoff at Colorado and will look to avoid sleepwalking through the game like it did the last time the Cardinal faced an early kickoff in their season-opening loss at Northwestern (9 AM PST kickoff).

The Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl host this year’s national semifinals on December 31. The University of Phoenix Stadium will host the title game in Glendale, Arizona on January 11, 2016.