College Football Playoff rankings projections: Should Ohio State or Michigan be ranked higher?

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It’s rivalry week in college football and Ohio State at Michigan is the marquee game. The College Football Playoff committee had been ranking Ohio State ahead of Michigan for the past few weeks and the numbers are starting to agree. Not only did both the AP and the coaches’ polls both flip Ohio State and Michigan this week, but my projected CFP rankings did as well.

The Buckeyes are up to No. 2 in my latest projections, ahead of the game in Ann Arbor on Saturday. My model has had little separation between the top three teams in recent weeks and that is still true. Obviously, this one gets sorted out on the field. But for now, Georgia is No. 1, followed by Ohio State at No. 2 and Michigan at No. 3. Last week Michigan was No. 2 ahead of Ohio State in my projections, even though the committee did not see it that way.

There’s not much movement at the top otherwise. Oregon State slid down a few spots after losing to Washington, but the rest is status quo.

How the projected rankings work

Using the committee’s past rankings, I’ve looked at various metrics that have been valued and, after some guess and check, I found a formula that tested well compared to the actual rankings. Now, there are some caveats. The committee changes from year to year and I have no way of knowing if the changes in personnel will change what is being valued. But I’m pretty confident the changes aren’t going to be drastic and that the formula I’ve created is likely to be pretty accurate regardless. After all, it’s a sport where you rank higher if you win games and you’ll drop if you lose.

We’re also including an extra column for strength of schedule, which is how my model ranks each team’s schedule. It’s there because so much of the discussion of how to differentiate teams with the same number of losses revolves around strength of schedule.

One last note before the rankings, my algorithm does not take into account the committee’s prior week’s rankings. The algorithm is simply projecting where teams should be ranked based on how the committee has ranked teams throughout all College Football Playoff rankings, not just last week’s.

Projected College Football Playoff rankings

Just missed: SMU, North Carolina, UNLV, Utah

James Madison is ineligible for the postseason and has not been considered by the CFP committee, but would slot in at No. 23, just ahead of NC State, in the projections if the Dukes were to be included.

What the 12-team playoff would look like

Byes: Georgia, Ohio State, Washington, Florida State (top four conference champions)

No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 Michigan

No. 11 Penn State at No. 6 Oregon

No. 10 Missouri at No. 7 Texas

No. 9 Louisville at No. 8 Alabama

(Photo of Emeka Egbuka: Jason Mowry / Getty Images)

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