Cagle’s Corner: Playoff Committee got ranking wrong

An absolutely crazy week of college football has ended and the college football playoff committee will surely take notice. With upsets and key victories abound, last weekend was one of the best I have seen in a long time. The committee will again assess the games and come out with the playoff rankings that will determine the fate of college football. Again, I provide my personal rankings below.

4 Ohio State Buckeyes

While the Buckeyes have been playing excellent football the past couple of weeks, their strength of schedule hurts them in my rankings. The three teams I place ahead of them have all played better competition and have played more consistently this season. While I believe that the Buckeyes have the most talented team in America on paper, they have not played that way week in and week out. Cardale Jones has taken back the starter role from J.T. Barrett after Barrett’s suspension and curiosity surrounds the quarterback position. Jones was up and down during his initial time as the starter and while Ezekiel Elliott has been tremendous thus far, I am not sure he can carry the Buckeyes all season. With three games remaining, the Buckeyes will need to play up to their own standards against Illinois this weekend. The Buckeyes close out the season with Michigan State and Michigan, two ranked opponents that Ohio State could use to bolt back to the top of the standings. However, as of right now, I think that the Buckeyes’ inconsistent play and lack of schedule strength force them into the fourth position.

3 Alabama Crimson Tide

Yes, they lost at home to an Ole Miss squad that lost to Memphis. While the one loss complaint is legit against Alabama, they showed that they are indeed a top team in the nation with their performance against Leonard Fournette and LSU. The Crimson Tide defense completely shut down Fournette, containing him to just 31 yards on 19 carries. Finally, the Crimson Tide’s offense showed up as well. While Derrick Henry had been carrying the Alabama offense all season, quarterback Jake Coker also played well. Coker showed that he can indeed be a steady option at quarterback for the Crimson Tide and that, combined with the dominant rush attack, will be tough to beat for any team. Initially, Alabama attempted to replicate the same offensive attack they had last season with Blake Sims under center. Coker is no Blake Sims and his limits have been exposed, resulting in the loss to Ole Miss. However, Coker has improved tremendously and the old school Alabama rush offense is back in form. With the Tide’s excellent play on both sides of the ball combined with their strength of schedule, Alabama takes the third spot for me.

2 Baylor

Last week the Bears took a hit in the rankings due to the uncertainty of their quarterback situation. Jarrett Stidham quieted any doubters he may have had by performing about as well as a true freshman could possibly perform. The explosive Baylor offense went straight over any roadblocks they might have had without Seth Russell and Stidham showed he is more than capable of leading the Bears to the Promised Land. The Baylor defense also stepped up in a huge way against Kansas State this past week. A key interception sealed the Bears’ victory against the Wildcats Thursday night in Manhattan. With Andrew Billings possibly coming back to 100 percent for Oklahoma this weekend, the Baylor defense will be at full force to take on the Sooners. If the defense can continue their hot play and extend their nation-leading streak of turnovers forced (24 games), the Baylor Bears cannot be beaten. With three huge games remaining, starting against the Sooners this weekend and followed by road contests against Oklahoma State and TCU, the Bears could seal up the number one rank in the nation when it is all said and done. The Bears’ combination of offensive explosiveness and stingy defense has placed them second in my rankings.

1 Clemson Tigers

Clemson has been great all season and it looks like they will cruise to an undefeated season. After finally getting over the hump against Florida State this past weekend, the Tigers are in control of the number one seed. The Tigers’ offense lead by quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the best in the nation, with running back Wayne Gallman has been tremendous on the ground as well. Though Watson and Gallman leading the charge offensively, the real strength of the Tigers’ lies in their defensive play. Clemson may have the best defense in the country on film, as they rank in the top 5 in total defense. The Clemson defense is fast and aggressive upfront and heady in the secondary. Lead by linebackers Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson, Clemson has been tremendous in the run game. While Dalvin Cook ran for almost 200 yards against the Tigers, most came on two long runs. The Tigers shut down Cook for most of the game, coming up with huge stops in a close fourth quarter. The Tigers earn the top spot in my rankings due to their consistently excellent play on both offense and defense.

First two out:

Notre Dame, Oklahoma State