Mississippi State was the No. 1 team in the Week 9 College Football Playoff Rankings, the first-ever playoff rankings in college football history. Four days later, the Bulldogs beat Kentucky and remained No. 1 in the Week 10 rankings, where they stayed until a Week 12 loss to Alabama dropped them three spots.
In each of the first five years of the playoff rankings, the No. 1-ranked team in the first rankings of each season remained No. 1 in the second rankings. Ohio State snapped that streak last year when the Buckeyes were replaced by then No. 2-LSU in Week 10 after the Tigers win over No. 3 Alabama. That won’t happen again in 2020.
Alabama entered the season with the most weeks atop the playoff rankings (18), one fewer than the other 129 FBS teams combined. They equaled the other 129 teams with a No. 1 ranking in Week 12 and will widen their lead in Week 13. After a win over Auburn, their ninth Iron Bowl win in the last 14 games, the Crimson Tide will retain the top spot and earn their 20th all-time No. 1 playoff. No other team has more than eight appearances at No. 1 (Clemson). Alabama ranks first in ESPN’s Football Power Index, first in strength of record, first in-game control, first in overall efficiency, and first in offensive efficiency. The Tide are also atop the College Football Playoff National Championship odds.
Alabama was one of sixteen ranked teams who played in Week 13. Five ranked teams lost their game to cancellation or postponement, including No. 4 Ohio State and No. 7 Cincinnati. Entering the week, Ohio State (4-0) had the fewest games played of any top-10 team and was one of only four teams with fewer than five games played. Cincinnati, meanwhile, entered the week as one of only three top-10 teams with eight games played. Neither game will be rescheduled.
Full Rankings Predictions
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Miami (FL)
- Iowa State
- Coastal Carolina
- North Carolina
- Oklahoma State
The committee might consider flipping Texas A&M and Florida after the Aggies’ uninspiring win over LSU and Florida’s strong second half against Kentucky, but Texas A&M’s head-to-head win will keep them at No. 5 and the top seven intact. Northwestern will take the biggest tumble of any top-10 team, falling six spots after a loss at Michigan State, which moves several teams one spot higher, not including Indiana. The Hoosiers beat Maryland, 27-11, but, will remain at No. 12 after a one-spot reward for Iowa State for defeating Texas to clinch their spot in the Big 12 Championship.
North Carolina is the only team to stay put despite a loss. After falling to Notre Dame, the three-loss Tar Heels are jumped by Coastal Carolina and Marshall but remain at No. 19 thanks to falls from Oregon and Texas. And because Oregon hung onto a top-25 spot after a loss to Oregon State, Auburn is the only Week 12 casualty, falling outside the top 25 for the first time in more than two years. Their departure allows Louisiana to enter the rankings for the first time in program history. And with Coastal Carolina above the Ragin’ Cajuns, it will be the first time two Sun Belt teams are ranked. Prior to last season, no Sun Belt had ever appeared in the playoff rankings.
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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor, a college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @adoughty88