College Football Playoff Rankings Prediction: USC moves up to No. 5, Clemson jumps over Alabama ahead of Rivalry Week

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After week 12, a little more distance was created between the contenders and those who weren’t quite ready for prime time. Tennessee suffered a tough loss in more ways than one, and USC rose from the Pac-12 stack to earn a league title spot in the game. Rivalry week is sure to bring some more unexpected results that could completely change the look of the college football playoff rankings as we enter conference championship games ahead of selection Sunday.

With two weeks left in the regular season, we’re here to predict what the top 25 will look like when the committee announces its field Tuesday night. It is a warmup act for the warmup act that is each edition of the CFP leaderboard before the last one comes out after Conference Championship Saturday.

Before we get to the rankings themselves, here’s a refresher listing some of the key points that committee members consider when deciding on a team’s ranking beyond their field record:

  • strength of the schedule
  • Conference Championships (if decided)
  • head to head
  • Results against common opponents
  • Results vs. opponents in the ranking

Thankfully, the committee’s definition of “ranked opponents” is different than what you’re used to. The rankings they use are the previous week’s CFP rankings. They don’t take into account where the teams were ranked, when the games were played, neither in the CFP nor in the AP Top 25 etc. Using game time rankings is the most worthless way to determine “ranked opponents”. In fact, the committee specifically prohibits the use of polls that have a preseason starting point.

Note that game controls are not listed in the criteria. It was never considered, despite the term (or similar concepts) sometimes slipping out of the committee chair’s mouth over the past few full seasons. (The CFP has no way of measuring “game control” — I’ve seen the data the committee uses — but let’s face it, they’re talking about it.)

With that in mind, here’s what the CFP leaderboard will look like this week. Remember, that’s not exactly how I would vote if I were on committee. I’m just predicting what they’re going to do on Tuesday night.

Note: This extrapolation is only based on previous results. It does not reflect the final prediction for the playoffs. For the full bowl playoffs and bowl predictions through the end of the season, click here.

College Football Playoff Rankings Prediction