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Reacting to the first CFP poll

| Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Way back in September, I wrote a column about my Way Too Early CFP Picks. They were, obviously, way too early.

How early? Well, I had Alabama in first, then Oregon, Iowa (I am an NFL fanalyst for a reason) and Georgia.

But, obviously, college football has changed a lot since then. Alabama lost to Texas A&M, Cincinnati ranks second in all the land, and Michigan State is the only remaining undefeated Big 10 team. And with the first CFP Committee Poll out, I want to react and do my best to project the CFP going forward.


Georgia being first was not a surprise by any means. Their defense is ranked by College Football References SRS as an 18.98, which is almost five points better than the next best team (Wisconsin 14.15).

The question for Georgia is more their offense than anything else. They have an OSRS of 6.96; well above average, but it sits in the top-20.

I had thought that Georiga was essentially a lock to make the CFP, and the committee has essentially confirmed that theory. They have four regular season games all against unranked opponents and should make it to the SEC Championship game without a problem.

Path to the Playoff: Keep on keepin’ on.


I absolutely hate Alabama being here. Alabama has one win against a currently-ranked opponent. Both Miami and Florida have dropped out of the rankings since Alabama beat them early on in the season.

To me, this feels sort of like a way for the committee to have Alabama in the playoffs should they win against Georgia in the SEC Championship.

However, that is why I do not like the pick. A one-loss Alabama team should have been fifth or sixth, just outside the playoffs with the potential to get in. Not firmly entrenched within the CFP with a .500 record against Committee ranked teams.

Path to the Playoff: Win out and win the SEC Championship game.

Michigan State

I had seen a lot of arguments being made for the Spartans to be second in the rankings and I was okay with it. They were undefeated (albeit, some close victories) and had a signature upset win over Michigan.

I think that three is a good spot for the Spartans; they still have a big game against Ohio State ahead of them, but have a proven track record.

My only worry about said track record is that the Spartans have had some close calls. They beat Nebraska (in OT) and Indiana University by a combined 43-35 who are a combined 5-12.

Path to the Playoff: Win out (notable matchups at Purdue, at Ohio State, at Penn State) and secure a Big 10 Championship.


This one caught me off-guard. I 100% understand Oregon staying in the top-5 or top-6, but fourth felt high when the committee still had multiple undefeated teams left to rank.

I think that Oregon is here largely so that in the case of either Cincinnati or Oklahoma (or Wake Forest) going undefeated, the committee has the precedent of Oregon in the top-4.

Path to the Playoff: Win out and win the Pac-12 Championship.

Ohio State

Ohio State really has to be kicking themselves because of their loss to the Ducks. Had that game ended a different way, the Buckeyes would likely be firmly in the CFP (and the Ducks would be out). Luckily, Ohio State has an easy path to get into the top-4.

Path to the Playoff: Win out (notable matchups home to Purdue and MSU, at Michigan) and get a Big-10 Championship. It would also help if Oregon won out, as their only loss would look a lot better.


This feels like a slap in the face to the Bearcats. In the AP Poll, Cincinnati was ranked second and is currently undefeated with a signature win over ND. I guess in the committee’s eyes, it was not enough to merit being in the top-4.

I’m not going to lie, this feels like the committee saying that Cincinnati is not going to make it to the CFP. They have done everything they have been asked to and they landed outside of the CFP anyway. The Bearcats need to win out and pray for some chaos above them.

Path to the Playoff: Win out, win the AAC crown and hope that Oregon and Alabama lose to clear space.


Personally, I would have put Michigan after Oklahoma because, again, Oklahoma is undefeated and Michigan is not.

However, I honestly love the take. Oklahoma has zero wins against a ranked opponent and has looked terrible in some of their games. I do think that benching Spencer Rattler may help the Sooners, but they will need to win out (including beating #11 Oklahoma State).

Michigan may not have a signature win, and they do have a loss, but they have looked a lot better for most of the season.

Path to the Playoff: Ohio State needs to beat Michigan State, and then Michigan needs to beat Ohio State. Then Michigan would need to beat the Big Ten West champion (likely Wisconsin).


Oklahoma being eight surprised me because I had figured that the Sooners, by virtue of being undefeated, would rank above Ohio State, Oregon and Michigan.

The committee has set up Oklahoma with the perfect way to put themselves in CFP contention. It should escape the notice of no one that Oklahoma State and Baylor are ranked eleventh and twelfth respectively. Oklahoma plays both coming down the stretch.

Path to the Playoff: Win out AND then take the Big-12 title. Oklahoma also needs the Big Ten to cannibalize itself, and for good measure, Cincinnati to lose as well.

Wake Forest

I had expected the Demon Deacons to come in at ten, but nine makes sense too. I think the committee had to place them ahead of the one-loss Notre Dame but after the undefeated Oklahoma and Cincinnati.

Path to the Playoff: Win out AND have both the Big Ten and Big-12 cannibalize itself, and have Georgia win the SEC Championship, and a Cincinnati loss would not hurt.

Notre Dame

This likely is not the newspaper to say it in, but realistically Notre Dame is not going to make the CFP. Because the Irish will likely have a losing record against CFP ranked teams, they do not have a chance to get a statement win.

Path to the Playoff: Win out AND utter chaos.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


About Thomas Zwiller

Thomas is a sophomore currently in attendance at Holy Cross College, and is a Business major and Computer Science minor. He is from Saint Joseph MI, and went to high school at Saint Joseph High School SB, playing both varsity football and hockey. Feel free to contact him about all things NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB, particularly if you're a stathead.

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