College Football Playoff Rankings reaction: Oregon has a case to be ahead of Alabama

There weren’t many changes in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff Rankings this week as the top seven teams remaining where they were. No. 8 Penn State and No. 9 Oklahoma jumping No. 10 Minnesota were the lone changes in the top 10.

That’s what tends to happen when everybody who is supposed to win does, and while I don’t have any significant problems with anything the CFP Selection Committee did this week, there are some little questions. I’ll start with the two teams at Nos. 5 and 6.

No. 6 Oregon — Underrated?

Let’s play a little devil’s advocate here. Alabama was at No. 5 last week, beat Mississippi State 38-7, and remained at No. 5 this week. That’s standard stuff. What’s not standard was the injury to Tua Tagovailoa and how it impacts Alabama going forward, but it’s not the committee’s job to predict the future. Last week, I didn’t have a problem with Alabama being ranked ahead of Oregon, but something did change in the dichotomy between the two of them this week.

Creeping into the rankings at No. 23 was USC. The same USC team that Oregon spanked 56-24 in The Coliseum a couple of weeks ago. This means that Oregon now has a win over a top 25 team. Alabama does not. Now, when we compare losses, Alabama clearly has the better of the two. It lost at home to No. 1 LSU 46-41 two weeks ago. Oregon’s loss came back on opening weekend when it lost to No. 15 Auburn 27-21 on a neutral field. But Oregon led most of that game. It jumped out to a 7-0 lead 5 minutes in and did not relinquish that lead until 9 seconds were remaining. Oregon lost, but it was in control — remember when game control was a thing the committee brought up? — for most of it and has been a dominant team since.

So, if both Oregon and Alabama are 9-1 with strong losses but only one has a win over a top 25 team, shouldn’t the team with the top 25 win be ranked higher? Again, I’m not ready to die on this hill or anything, but it’s something worth considering. Of course, with the injury to Tagovailoa, it could settle itself in a couple of weeks.

No. 10 Minnesota — Underrated?

I’m OK with Penn State being ranked ahead of Oklahoma. Where I scratch my head a bit is why it’s ranked ahead of Minnesota. If we go back to last week, Minnesota was at No. 8 with Penn State at No. 9. The reasoning was pretty clear: Minnesota had just beaten Penn State. Well, a week later, what’s really changed?

Yes, Minnesota lost, but it lost on the road to a team the committee has at No. 17 by four points. It still has a win over Penn State. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, have wins over the Iowa team Minnesota lost to, as well as No. 13 Michigan. But Penn State had those wins last week as well, and it was ranked behind Minnesota because it lost to Minnesota. Both teams remain 9-1, and Minnesota still beat Penn State, so isn’t there a logical argument that Minnesota should still be ahead of the Nittany Lions?

No. 19 Cincinnati — Just right

Congratulations to the committee for realizing that Cincinnati does not deserve to be ranked ahead of No. 18 Memphis, which it was last week. Cincinnati’s best win is over an unranked, 7-3 UCF. Its loss might have been to No. 2 Ohio State, but it was still a 42-0 loss. In the last three weeks, it has nearly lost to 3-7 East Carolina and needed a late field goal to beat 4-6 South Florida.

Memphis, meanwhile, has a win over No. 25 SMU as well as a win over a 7-2 Navy team. Its lone loss was a two-point loss on the road to a 7-3 Temple team. The Tigers should never have been behind Cincinnati in the first place.

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