Tramel college football rankings: Alabama, Clemson remain 1-2, but Oklahoma State coming fast
When December 13 arrives, and the College Football Playoff committee convenes to select four teams, it will have some difficult decisions. It always does.
But this time, the committee will have fundamental decisions. Like this. Comparing a 10-game schedule (SEC, Big 12) against a seven-game schedule (Pac-12). Or an 11-game schedule (ACC) against an eight-game schedule (Big Ten).
That won’t be easy.
But it is easy, or at least far easier, to compare such discrepancies at this point in the season. Comparing teams that have played five games with teams that have played one game is not difficult.
- Related to this story
- Article: Texas at OSU football: Kickoff time, betting odds, matchup breakdown
- Article: College football winners and losers from Week 8 include Rutgers, Alabama and Indiana
- Article: Cowboys face first major test and stay No. 1 in the Big 12
- Article: OSU football: Tight ends flash ability to be effective in passing game
- Article: Carlson: Why Texas football continues to lag behind OU, OSU even in Tom Herman's fourth season
- Article: OSU football: Mike Yurcich returns to Stillwater, but with different offensive scheme at Texas
- Article: OSU football: Cameron Murray has grown into ‘a force to be reckoned with’ on Cowboys’ defensive line
- Article: OSU football: How good can the Cowboy defense be? Texas' Tom Herman says 'they’re as good as it gets'
- Article: Tramel: College football predictions & OSU's dominance of Texas
- Article: OSU football gains commitment, loses running back to transfer portal
- Article: Tramel: Give Mike Gundy credit for decision to hire Jim Knowles as OSU defensive coordinator
- Article: OSU football: Cowboys and Texas always seem close in Big 12 play
- Article: OSU football: The football side and the fun side of Jim Knowles are equally important to the Cowboys
- Article: OSU football: The Six Shooter pregame thoughts on the Cowboys vs. Texas
- Article: OSU football: 3-2-1 kickoff for Cowboys vs. Texas Longhorns
- Article: Texas at OSU football: Broadcast info, betting lines, weather, predictions
- Article: OSU football: Tylan Wallace has come a long way in a year since tearing ACL
- Article: Tramel: Can Spencer Sanders elevate the Oklahoma State offense?
- Video: OSU Football: Defending Texas
Ohio State, for example. If you rank teams based on what you think they will do, knock yourself out and put the Buckeyes at No. 1, 2 or 3. But if you rank teams based on what they have done, which is how the ultimate decision should be made, then Ohio State should be nowhere near that high.
The Big Ten started play last weekend, and the notable games were the Buckeyes whacking Nebraska 52-17, Indiana upsetting Penn State 36-35 in overtime and Michigan impressively dispatching Minnesota 49-24.
Is Ohio State an outstanding team? Almost surely. The Buckeyes always are. But we’re just guessing on how good are the Cornhuskers.
Is Penn State a good team that had a bad day? Probably. But we don’t know.
Is Minnesota the team that won 11 games last year or the program that has floated in the neighborhood of mediocrity for most of 60 years? No clue.
So ranking Big Ten teams at this point is dicey. Nebraska, I would guess, is about the quality of TCU. Actually, the Horned Frogs have been better more consistently than has Nebraska in recent years.
But if you say TCU and Nebraska are about the same, then ranking Ohio State high is not possible, based on what the Buckeyes have done. A lone victory over TCU wouldn’t propel a Big 12 team high into the rankings, so it shouldn’t propel Ohio State.
The Buckeyes, I assume, will get there soon enough. The key is to start bending your mind away from the college football convention of predicting and toward the process of rewarding. What have teams done?
Who did they play? Where did they play? How have they done?
So this week, no Big Ten teams are ranked. They will be soon enough. But not now. Here is my top 10:
1. Alabama 5-0: The victories over Georgia and Texas A&M are great. Even the win at Missouri is looking better and better.
2. Clemson 6-0: The Tigers don’t have a great win, but the victories over Wake Forest and Miami have proven to be solid.
3. Cincinnati 4-0: The Bearcats have two good wins, home against Army and at SMU. Those are the only defeats for the Cadets and the Mustangs.
4. Oklahoma State 4-0: The victory over Iowa State is one of the better wins in the nation so far.
5. Texas A&M 3-1: The Aggies’ win over Florida remains excellent.
6. Kansas State 4-1: This is a good test case. How do you rank a team with a great win (at OU) and an inexplicable loss (home against Arkansas State)? Well, historically, if you’re a name-brand school, you get the loss more easily forgiven. If you’re not a name-brand school, you get the win less rewarded. But that’s not right. And as someone who supports better scheduling, I’ll reward teams with a great win and an inexplicable loss over teams without either.
7. Brigham Young 6-0: It’s going to be difficult for the Cougars to stay up this high, since their schedule softens considerably. But still, BYU has some solid wins, starting with Houston.
8. Georgia 3-1: I’m being kind to the Bulldogs. None of its three wins are all that impressive -- Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee.
9. Coastal Carolina 5-0: The Chanticleers have a good win at Louisiana-Lafayette, and beating Arkansas State was no small thing.
10. Louisiana-Lafayette 4-1: Sorry, Notre Dame. But the 4-1 Ragin’ Cajuns have a better win (at Iowa State) than anything on the Fighting Irish schedule, and their loss was to a team I have ranked ninth. Being unbeaten against a mediocre schedule gets you nowhere with me.