College Football's Post-Week 12 Playoff Projection

Athlon projects the CFB playoff.

College football’s playoff committee has released three sets of rankings, and the debate about the top four teams will continue every week until the final matchups are released. While the top 25 rankings are expected to change each week and will look drastically different from the release of the first poll to the last one, the playoff committee's poll provided some insight into the process.


Each week, Athlon Sports hopes to replicate the playoff committee’s work by asking some of college football’s top media members to vote on their top eight teams. This poll will attempt to project how the playoff picture stacks up after each week until the end of the year.


Expert Panel


Bobby Bowden (@TheBobbyBowden), Legends Poll
Gene Stallings, (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Don Nehlen (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Athlon Sports
Braden Gall (@BradenGall), Athlon Sports
Zac Ellis (@ZacEllis), Sports Illustrated
David Fox (@DavidFox615), Athlon Sports
Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis),
Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis), Fox Sports

Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey),
Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB),
Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello), Campus Insiders
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS),
Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism),
Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247),
Kyle Kensing (@kensing45),
Adam Powell (@ACCSports),
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) Athlon Sports
Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward),
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB),
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR), Athlon Sports

Post-Week 12 Playoff Projection

Rank Team   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
1 Alabama 13 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 159
2 Florida State 7 9 5 0 0 0 0 0 149
3 Oregon 1 5 13 2 0 0 0 0 131
4 Mississippi State 0 0 2 11 4 2 1 1 92
5T Baylor 0 0 0 3 9 4 5 0 73
5T TCU 0 0 0 4 6 7 4 0 73
7 Ohio State 0 0 0 1 2 7 10 0 54
8 Ole Miss 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 11 13
9 Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 7 10
10T UCLA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
10T Michigan State 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Takeaways From Expert Poll Results


* After a seven-week departure from No. 1 in the playoff committee projection, Alabama is back at the top of this week’s ranking. The Crimson Tide received 13 of the 21 first-place votes.

* Florida State trails Alabama by just 10 points in this week’s poll. The Seminoles received seven first-place votes.

* Oregon was a clear No. 3 in this week’s voting, but No. 4 is where the intrigue starts. Despite a loss to Alabama last Saturday, Mississippi State remained in the playoff picture at No. 4. But Baylor and TCU tied for No. 5 at 73 points, and Ohio State is a distant seventh at 54 points. Needless to say, the Buckeyes are going to need a lot of help to reach the top four (if this vote mirrors the committee's rankings).

* Ole Miss is the highest two-loss team in the rankings, but Georgia ranks one spot behind the Rebels in this week’s poll. If the Bulldogs defeat Georgia Tech and win the SEC East, would a win in the conference championship vault this team into consideration among the top four?

* Arizona State and Auburn dropped out of this week’s committee vote after losses in Week 12.


Group of 5 Rankings

1. Marshall
Remaining Games: at UAB (Nov. 22), Western Kentucky (Nov. 28)

The Thundering Herd got revenge for last year’s 41-24 loss to Rice in the Conference USA Championship by defeating the Owls 41-14 on Saturday. Marshall has defeated all 10 of its opponents by at least 15 points this year. Coach Doc Holliday’s team may not have a marquee win, but the Thundering Herd is dominating their competition.

2. Boise State
Remaining Games: at Wyoming (Nov. 22), Utah State (Nov. 29)

Boise State rallied from a 20-0 deficit to win 38-29 and end a two-game losing streak over San Diego State. Unless Colorado State loses one of its last two games, the Broncos still need two wins to clinch the Mountain Division title. Boise State has an edge over Marshall in strength of schedule, but coach Bryan Harsin’s team has two losses. How will the committee weigh competition versus an unbeaten with a weak strength of schedule?

3. Colorado State
Record: 9-1
Remaining Games: New Mexico (Nov. 22), at Air Force (Nov. 28)

The Rams had a timely bye on Saturday, which should help quarterback Garrett Grayson and receiver Rashard Higgins return to full strength after injuries limited both players in previous weeks. Colorado State has a better record and ranks ahead of Boise State in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. However, the Rams need a loss by the Broncos in their next two games to have a shot at the Group of 5 bowl spot.

4. Memphis
Remaining Games: USF (Nov. 22), UConn (Nov. 29)

There’s a three-way tie atop the American Athletic Conference, and Memphis has the easiest path to the league title. The Tigers, Cincinnati and UCF each have one defeat in conference play, and Memphis has remaining matchups against USF and UConn. UCF has to play at USF and East Carolina, while Cincinnati has trips to UConn and Temple and a home date against Houston upcoming. The Tigers have won four in a row, and coach Justin Fuente’s team owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati.

5. Cincinnati

Record: 6-3

Remaining Games: at UConn (Nov. 22), at Temple (Nov. 29), Houston (Dec. 6)

The Bearcats remained in the mix for the Group of 5 bowl spot with a huge 54-46 win over East Carolina on Thursday night. Cincinnati has four wins in a row and is one of three teams (Memphis and UCF are the other two) tied at the top of the American Athletic Conference with one loss in league play.


6. Northern Illinois
Remaining Games: at Ohio (Nov. 18), at Western Michigan (Nov. 28)

No Jordan Lynch? No problem for Northern Illinois. The Huskies are the favorite to win the MAC West behind a rushing attack that’s averaging 261.7 yards per game. Northern Illinois may not be as strong as it was last year, but coach Rod Carey’s team can work its way in the mix to earn the Group of 5 spot as a conference champ.

Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 13


Kansas State at West Virginia
7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1 (Thursday)

The Wildcats are still alive for the Big 12 title with a trip to Baylor ahead on Dec. 6. However, a Thursday night matchup in Morgantown won’t be easy. West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett and receiver Kevin White will test a K-State pass defense that has allowed just eight passing scores in Big 12 play.

North Carolina at Duke
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)

Despite last week’s loss to Virginia Tech, Duke still controls its destiny in the Coastal Division. The Tar Heels need one more win to get bowl eligible.

Minnesota at Nebraska

After getting torched by Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, Nebraska’s rush defense has to regroup with a matchup against Minnesota’s David Cobb. The winner of this game keeps pace with the Badgers in the Big Ten’s West Division.

Boston College at Florida State
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

The Eagles should be rested after a bye, while the Seminoles have to avoid a letdown after a comeback victory at Miami and a lookahead game to rival Florida. Boston College’s 14-point defeat to Florida State last year was the closest game against the Seminoles prior to the BCS title matchup against Auburn. 

Ole Miss at Arkansas
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Ole Miss still has a chance to win the SEC West, but it needs a little help from Auburn against Alabama in two weeks. Arkansas is coming off its first SEC win under coach Bret Bielema and needs a victory to reach bowl eligibility. Is this a lookahead spot for Ole Miss with the Egg Bowl next week?

Arizona at Utah
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

This matchup in Salt Lake City features one of the Pac-12’s top offenses (Arizona) against one of the league’s top defenses (Utah). The Utes’ aggressive defense (47 sacks) should be a handful for quarterback Anu Solomon, who has tossed just two interceptions in four road games this year.

Louisville at Notre Dame
3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The Fighting Irish has lost three out of its last four games and is no longer in position to earn a spot in one of the top bowl games. Louisville quarterback Will Gardner is out for the rest of the year, but true freshman Reggie Bonnafon has played well in limited action (51 of 92 for 662 yards and four scores). Bonnafon’s job is made easier with the return of receiver DeVante Parker, who has recorded three consecutive 100-yard efforts since returning from a foot injury.

Wisconsin at Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

Can the Hawkeyes find an answer for Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon? Iowa still has West Division title aspirations but needs to win its final two games and have Minnesota lose to Wisconsin or Nebraska.

Missouri at Tennessee
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Missouri still controls its destiny in the SEC East, and the Tigers will clinch a spot in Atlanta if they win their last two games. However, that’s not an easy task, as coach Gary Pinkel’s team heads to Knoxville to play an improving Tennessee squad this week, followed by a matchup against Arkansas next Friday.

8 p.m. ET, ABC

Will UCLA continue its recent edge in this series? The Bruins have won two in a row over the Trojans, including a 35-14 blowout in the Los Angeles Coliseum last year. UCLA controls its destiny in the Pac-12 South title race and can take another step closer to San Francisco with a win over USC.

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