College Football Playoff Rankings: Projecting Utah State, Boise State, Fresno State After Week 12
Can Mountain West football’s three contenders find room within the latest College Football Playoff top 25? We predict what will happen.
Can the MWC’s race to the top get some respect from the committee?
Week 12, whew, that was fun. The Mountain West’s three contenders, West division champion Fresno State and Mountain leaders Utah State and Boise State, each had varying amounts of adventure in their wins but remain on track for a couple of epic showdowns in the next couple of weeks. More importantly, the three might finally be able to crack the College Football Playoff’s Top 25 all at once.
We’ll get to all of the pressing questions that linger from the weekend as we look ahead to Tuesday’s reveal, but first:
West Virginia: I can’t figure out whether Oklahoma State is good or bad, but losing to that Cowboys team is definitely bad.
Syracuse: I don’t know that I have much trash to talk on the Orange other than to say we definitely know now that their ceiling is “can’t beat a top-5 team”. There are worse fates.
Iowa State: Maybe the Cyclones, under Matt Campbell, were ahead of schedule, but it’s hard to imagine their strength of schedule argument improved since TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech are all 5-6 now and West Virginia lost, too.
Boston College: You really have no idea whether the Eagles are the, say, fourth-best team in the ACC or the ninth-best team, but losing to Florida State certainly doesn’t help their standing.
Cincinnati: Thanks for nothing, guys.
Alright, time for some questions.
1. Does Fresno State have enough in its resume to bounce back into the top 25?
Let’s start with this: Their resume certainly looks a lot rosier than it did a week ago. San Diego State, Hawaii and Nevada are all solid wins and all have seven wins themselves. Toledo may not be the MAC contender that everyone thought they’d be, but they’re at six wins now. Wyoming and Minnesota are still playing their way toward bowl eligibility, but they both won this weekend, too. And hey, even UCLA pulled an upset!
They may also have received enough help from Power 5 teams in the conversation, as well. Last week, I listed ten teams that I thought would be on the outside looking in with Fresno State. One, Cincinnati, got ranked and lost, while another (Stanford) had its game canceled. Three others — Arizona State, Duke and Virginia — lost on Saturday, while three more pummeled the likes of Liberty, Illinois and Tennessee.
Among the teams in the list, Texas A&M and Missouri have the most compelling cases at the moment. The Aggies beating a very game UAB looks a lot better now than anyone would’ve suspected in August, but if that’s their second-best win in the eyes of the committee then it might be suspect. The Tigers, meanwhile, do have a win over Florida on their ledger but might be weighed down by teams that are currently 5-6 (Wyoming, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Tennessee).
And then, again, there’s Pitt, who took a little while to get going against Wake Forest but, all of a sudden, own a slew of wins against seven-win teams (Duke, Virginia, Georgia Tech) in addition to their win over Syracuse. I thought they’d get ranked last week and I’d be even more surprised if they couldn’t crack it this time, especially since Northwestern went from being unranked to #22 in a week.
All in all, I hate to say it, but with just two spots reasonably up for grabs, I think Fresno State will need another week’s worth of chaos to climb back into the top 25.
2. Okay, fine, so if Pitt is going to claim one spot, which Power 5 teams could jump them and claim the other?
In order of likelihood: Missouri, Auburn, Oregon, Iowa, Wisconsin.
Interestingly, Washington’s meteoric rise in the ranks is going to have some kind of effect on who jumps into the rankings. They lost to both Auburn and Oregon, which makes them a better win than any that the three Mountain West teams can claim. If one of those teams leapfrogs both Utah State and Boise State like Northwestern did, don’t be surprised, but I’m guessing Mizzou’s win over Florida carries a little more weight.