College Football Playoff Rankings: Projecting Boise State, Air Force in the Week 15 Top 25
The Broncos seem likely to move up in the new College Football Playoff rankings, but will the Falcons join them? We predict how it’ll look.
Will the CFP make it two for the Mountain West?
Championship week is upon us all across the college football landscape, and the Boise State Broncos’ path to the Cotton Bowl is clear: Handle business against Hawaii and hope that Memphis stumbles against Cincinnati in the AAC title game. Simple as that.
While App State still technically has a chance if both the Tigers and Broncos fall on Saturday, the rest is mostly just window dressing at this point. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a point of pride, however, especially for a team like the Air Force Falcons who, after notching their tenth win of the year, have built a solid case to be a part of the final conversation even if there’s nothing at stake for them.
As always, keep this in mind first: A lot can change in a week and in the CFP era and things have definitely tended to change quite a bit over the course of a month or so.
Here’s a quick recap of the weekend that was and what it might mean.
From the top:
- #5 Alabama lost on the road to #15 Auburn, 48-45
- #8 Minnesota lost at home to #12 Wisconsin, 38-17
- #13 Michigan lost at home to #1 Ohio State, 56-27
- #19 Cincinnati lost on the road to #18 Memphis, 34-24
- #21 Oklahoma State lost at home to #7 Oklahoma, 34-16
- #24 Virginia Tech lost on the road to Virginia, 39-30
If only we’d had more shakeups like this down the stretch. The Cavaliers seem like a good bet to vault into the top 25 after finally winning the Commonwealth Cup for once, even if they’re going to summarily dispatched by Clemson in the ACC title game (still counts!).
By Way of Comparison: How did the rest of the Group of 5 fare?
- #25 Appalachian State defeated Troy on the road, 48-13
- SMU defeated Tulane at home, 37-20
- Navy defeated Houston on the road, 56-41
- Air Force defeated Wyoming at home, 20-6
- Louisiana defeated Louisiana-Monroe at home, 31-30
A quick bit of props for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who notched their tenth win of the year but are otherwise a step behind conference mate Appalachian State, since their strength of schedule is exactly the same — 113 for UL, 114 for App State — but, alas, Louisiana has already lost twice. That Sun Belt title game is going to be a fun one, anyway.
SMU, Navy, and Air Force all handled business as expected, but your guess is as good as ours about how the committee will treat the three. The Midshipmen, fairly or unfairly, are probably still a step behind with one fewer win on the resume and Army probably won’t change that much. Meanwhile, the difference in SOS between the Mustangs and Falcons is basically nothing (76 for SMU, 84 for Air Force).
Tale of the Tape: Air Force vs. Navy vs. SMU
It may help to look at the Massey composite rankings in order to make a determination here. How do each team’s wins stack up in terms of how and who they’ve played?
Air Force – Colorado: 69 | San Jose State: 104 | Fresno State: 97 | Hawaii: 48 | Utah State: 55 | Army: 100 | Colorado State: 111 | New Mexico: 123 | Wyoming: 62 | Average: 76.9
Navy – East Carolina: 117 | Air Force: 24 | Tulsa: 81 | USF: 95 | Tulane: 57 | UConn: 125 | SMU: 25 | Houston: 85 | Average: 67.7
SMU – Arkansas State: 73 | North Texas: 116 | Texas State: 120 | TCU: 51 | USF: 95 | Tulsa: 81 | Temple: 46 | Houston: 85 | East Carolina: 117 | Tulane: 57 | Average: 84.1
The Midshipmen definitely have an advantage with this kind of examination, but “10 > 9”, too, so how will the committee split the difference? Navy is also even with SMU by strength of SOS, per Sagarin, and both are a tick ahead of Air Force but (probably) not by enough to really make much of a difference. You could probably throw darts at a board and do just as well as me prognosticating here.
So what do I think the top 25 will look like? Read on.