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Predicting the College Football Playoff rankings for Championship Week

CFB-HQ on FanNation 11/29/2022 James Parks

Championship Week is here and that means we have two more editions of the College Football Playoff rankings before the semifinal kicks off. Before that, however, it's time to predict what the top 25 will look like.

The top four isn't exactly a mystery right now: Georgia is the consensus No. 1 team in America, and Michigan should be at No. 2 after a dominant win over rival Ohio State.

TCU is expected to move up after the then-No. 2 Buckeyes' loss, and we should see a new contender from the Pac-12 slide into the top four heading into this week's conference championship games.

But despite how predictable the first four are, there's still plenty of football to be played that will directly affect what the playoff looks like, especially in the Big 12 and Pac-12 Championship Games, putting TCU and USC, respectively, on the spot to test whether or not they belong.

Georgia and Michigan look like locks to make the College Football Playoff, even if one or both were to lose their league title games, to LSU or Purdue, respectively. 

Where do things stand right now as we head into Championship Week?

College football rankings: Predicting the CFP top 25 for Week 14

Predicting the College Football Playoff rankings for Championship Week © Provided by CFB-HQ on FanNation Predicting the College Football Playoff rankings for Championship Week

25. UTSA. The favorites to win the Conference USA title this week, expect the Roadrunners to sneak into the rankings at 10-2 after qualifying for the AP top 25.

24. NC State. Losing two out of the last three to end the season wasn't a great look, but beating rival UNC in the finale certainly was, enough to drop the Tar Heels from the rankings despite playing in the ACC title game.

23. Mississippi State. We predict Carolina will fall out of the rankings after that loss, allowing the Bulldogs, fresh off a statement win over Ole Miss, to make the poll.

22. UCF. The Knights shouldn't move in the rankings after a win over USF to close out, even if that win was much closer than it should have been heading into the AAC title game against Tulane.

21. Texas. While the Longhorns did their part beating Baylor in the finale, they didn't get the help they needed to qualify for the Big 12 Championship Game.

20. South Carolina. When you beat two AP top 10 ranked teams in consecutive weeks, you get in the rankings. Kudos to the Gamecocks, who dropped 63 on Tennessee, likely killing that team's College Football Playoff chances, and then upset Clemson on the road, ending the Tigers' 40-game home win streak there.

19. Notre Dame. A very impressive five-game win streak ended at USC, which, combined with other teams winning, means the Irish could dip a few spots this week.

18. UCLA. With no Pac-12 title to play for, the Bruins didn't look too inspired against Cal, but they won, enough to stay put at 18.

17. Oregon State. A huge come-from-behind win propels the Beavers to a 9-win season while dumping rival Oregon out of the Pac-12 title hunt.

16. Tulane. A big win over a ranked Cincinnati team both ended UC's 32-game home win streak and puts the Green Wave in the AAC Championship Game with a shot at the Group of Five's New Year's bowl bid.

15. Florida State. An important win over rival Florida re-asserts the Seminoles' dynamic offensive potential, and while they also beat LSU, the committee may not be able to justify dropping the SEC West champs so far as to fall behind the Noles.

14. Utah. Thanks to Oregon's loss, the Utes will face USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but they should stay behind a Ducks team that beat them head-to-head.

13. Oregon. Beaver fans will protest the Ducks being ahead of them in the rankings, but it's tough for the committee to drop a former top 10 team that far in one week, even one that lost a 31-10 lead to its rival in what can only be called a choke.

12. LSU. Losing to unranked Texas A&M with an SEC title shot on the line and what was an outside chance at the playoff will force the committee to punish LSU, but its former lofty No. 5 position should ensure that it doesn't fall too low. But certainly outside the top 10 now at three losses.

11. Clemson. The loss at home to South Carolina revealed that Clemson's offensive improvement to be short-lived, if not an outright mirage, and a second loss to an unranked team should dump the ACC title favorites from College Football Playoff contention.

Outside looking in

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10. Kansas State. Winning their final three games by an average of 22 points each time and booking a date in the Big 12 title game is enough to move into the top 10 of the rankings, combined with other higher-ranked teams losing.

9. Washington. A stellar rookie season from coach Kalen DeBoer and transfer quarterback Michael Penix, finishing 10-2 and, though unable to play in the Pac-12 title game, still in the mix for a good bowl.

8. Penn State. Since dropping two out of three midseason to Michigan and Ohio State, the Nittany Lions won out the last month by an average of 31.25 points per game and are in line for a New Year's bowl bid out of the Big Ten.

7. Tennessee. Even with that ugly loss at Georgia, the Vols still had an outside shot at the College Football Playoff, but that was before allowing the Gamecocks to drop 63 in a stunning road loss two weeks ago. That's enough for the committee to justify slotting UT behind an Alabama team that it beat head-to-head.

First two out

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6. Alabama. This isn't the Crimson Tide we're used to seeing, with two losses to ranked teams, and it's hard to find a quality win on the schedule, especially with Ole Miss collapsing down the stretch. That should be enough to stay behind the Buckeyes, but still within striking distance of the top four in case of chaos.

5. Ohio State. The loss at home to Michigan was ugly in all phases, but it was to the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, and OSU still has a quality win over an improved Notre Dame that the committee to consider. Plus, the Buckeyes have only one loss whereas Alabama has two.

Who's in?

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4. USC. Losses by two top-five teams and their own wins over ranked rivals in UCLA and Notre Dame move the Trojans into the final four for now, but with a date against Utah in the Pac-12 title game to see if they really belong.

3. TCU. Still perfect heading into the Big 12 title match, the Horned Frogs face a test against a Kansas State that built a big lead in a head-to-head game midseason before TCU's comeback. Win, and the Hypnotoad makes the playoff.

2. Michigan. A dominant win at then-No. 2 Ohio State turns the rivalry in the Wolverines' favor for the first time in a while, puts this team in the Big Ten Championship Game, and likely in the College Football Playoff even with a loss there to Purdue. Not that anyone is predicting one.

1. Georgia. Two straight undefeated regular seasons for college football's defending national champions, and this time with no Alabama standing in their way in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia is a lock for the semifinal, but against who? The bookies say USC, who the Dawgs haven't played since 1960.

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