We’ve cleared the first two tests of the season, and most of the teams at the top of the Pigskin Rating System rankings after the first fortnight of the 2015 season are the usual suspects. Were the regular season to conclude today, the rankings project a final four of Alabama, USC, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State to play for the College Football Playoff. It would involve the presumed champions of the same four conferences that participated in last year’s semifinals, and would also mean that the Big 12 champion (likely either Baylor or TCU) would be spurned from inclusion for a second straight season.
We’re not quite at the point of worrying about it yet with the Cougars hovering just inside the top 40 at this point, but BYU’s victory over Boise State created ramifications that resonate through both the Group of Five as well as the way the CFP selection committee will evaluate independent cases in the playoff era. At 2-0, Brigham Young has already knocked off Nebraska in Lincoln and the Broncos at home. If they manage to take out UCLA in the Rose Bowl next Saturday, the conversation will heat up considerably… and should they escape September undefeated with a win in the Big House against Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, the last Power Five threat on the schedule will be a November 14 game against Missouri in Provo. The skill level is obviously there to finish the schedule undefeated, even with the loss of quarterback Taysom Hill, and Bronco Mendenhall’s charges could give the committee a serious case study to evaluate. It could be 1984 all over again, if everything plays out right…
A further evaluation combining Pigskin Rating System numbers with the weighting system used in last year’s Top 128 column will be coming out later this week, as we look for further ways of combining the quality of each team’s roster with opponent quality and success levels to provide the most unbiased view possible of the FBS ranks. Stay tuned for that post either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how long it takes to compile the data.
For now, here are some other notable snippets about this week’s rankings:
- As was mentioned above, four different Power Five conferences are represented among the top four teams in the PRS rankings for Week 2. The teams lingering just outside that threshold are indicative of the persistent strength of the SEC, as three of the first four teams out are from the conference. Ole Miss, a team that has combined dominant offense this season to go with its Landshark defense, is hovering just outside the playoff line and will likely merit a higher position after the midweek incorporation of the Top 128 methodology into the system.
- If the PRS rankings were used as currently composed to pick this year’s Access Bowl participant, it would be neither Boise State nor another member of the Mountain West earning that spot. The American Athletic Conference would likewise be shut out of the equation. And while it would be the MAC earning the nod, it wouldn’t be former Orange Bowl participant Northern Illinois snagging the position. Instead it would be Ohio, currently ranked 51st, that would steal the spot. Wins over Idaho and Marshall, however, would likely not impress the committee as much — nor would they impress the Top 128 rankings as they were designed, part of the reason for adjusting future analysis.
- California remained in the top 10 for a second straight week, and the Golden Bears are quickly beginning to look like the favorite in a weak Pac-12 North. Oregon’s defeat at Michigan State followed losses by Oregon State at Michigan, Stanford at Northwestern, Washington State to FCS Portland State, and Washington’s loss at Boise State. The competition will get tougher, but Cal could be a dark horse that plays a major role in the playoff race, even if only as a spoiler for a Pac-12 South team or two.
- Major risers in this week’s rankings include Virginia Tech (up to 11th from 31st), TCU (up to 18th from 46th), Boston College (up to 23rd from 44th), Stanford (up to 32nd from 58th), and North Carolina (up to 42nd from 63rd). The biggest plummets include Oklahoma (from 16th to 26th) and Tennessee (from 20th to 28th) despite playing one another to overtime, Oregon (from 24th to 40th after losing by three to the Spartans), and Mississippi State (from 30th to 45th after losing to LSU).
You can scroll through the full rankings below, including the breakdown of each category calculated in the Pigskin Rating System. To brush up on the methodology used in the rankings, click here.