By Conor Harrington
Sports Business Writer
The first College Football Playoff rankings were released this past week and for an initial ranking, was quite littered with surprises. The first shock came when Alabama was dethroned as the number 1 ranked team, replaced by Southeastern Conference rival Georgia. Alabama was ranked second. At number 3 was Notre Dame, a team whose only loss has come at the hands of Georgia. Right behind them at number 4 is defending national champion Clemson, whose sole loss has come to Syracuse University. The rankings were met levels of shock and confusion, as Georgia was viewed as a justifiable top overall team, but the inclusion of Clemson was met with a mixed reception.
Right behind Clemson at numbers 5 and 6 were Oklahoma and Ohio State, respectively. Ohio State’s only loss was to Oklahoma, while Oklahoma lost to Ohio State. Out of Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State, Oklahoma has the highest quality win while Ohio State has the highest quality loss. Oklahoma’s win over Ohio State should’ve been enough to catapult them into the 4 ranking. Rounding out the top 10 are number 7 Penn State, who lost to Ohio State; number 8 TCU, who also lost to Iowa State; number 9 Wisconsin, and number 10 Miami, both of whom are still undefeated. The highest rated Group of Five school is undefeated number 18 UCF, who would receive a BCS bowl berth as of now. This past Saturday, both Penn State and Ohio State were upset, which truly hurts their chances of making the playoff.
While the push for the playoff is of course the dominant storyline as the college football season inches towards its conclusion, the Heisman Trophy race is just as open as the playoff. While there are over half a dozen legitimate candidates as of right now, we will focus on four. First, is the current frontrunner, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley has 801 rushing yards for nine touchdowns, as well as 471 receiving yards and three additional receiving touchdowns. If Penn State is somehow able to sneak into the playoff, that will only bolster a very strong case. Another star running back is Stanford’s Bryce Love, who leads the nation with 1,387 rushing yards to go alongside 11 touchdowns. Stanford’s mediocre season thus far may keep him out of real contention, however. Notre Dame’s Josh Adams has also emerged as a contender, averaging around nine yards per carry this season, leading the Fighting Irish back to glory after a 4-8 record last season,.
The quarterback with the best chance is like Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, who has 2,628 passing yards combined with 23 touchdowns, a 72.5% completion percentage, and only three interceptions, while propelling Oklahoma into the national title discussion. The only quarterback who could really rival him is his in-state rival Mason Rudolph, quarterback of #11 Oklahoma State. Rudolph has 2,866 passing yards to go along with 22 touchdowns. What hurts Rudolph compared to Mayfield is that Rudolph has already thrown five interceptions, and has a much lower completion percentage of 65.6%. When the Sooners and Cowboys met on November 4th, Mayfield’s 598 yards and five touchdowns led the Sooners to victory. Rudolph also played well, with 448 yards and five touchdowns through the air, but his team’s loss will hurt his chances.
Overall it has been one exciting season for college football, and it will only get better in the weeks the come.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 7th print edition.
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