The college football playoff selection committee released their first rankings of the season, and there are some surprises at the top. The committee ranked Alabama and Notre Dame — each with one loss — ahead of undefeated Baylor, Michigan State, and TCU. This proves that strength of schedule and the way you win can be more important than an unblemished record.

 

These preliminary rankings are just a snapshot of the season to date; last year’s champs were only ranked 16 in the at this point in the season, proving a lot can change between now and December.

 

Here are our picks for the most likely teams to reach the second annual playoff:

 

  1. Ohio State

Ohio State was off last weekend, but just because they were inactive does not mean you should forget about the reigning champs. The Buckeyes’ season will be defined in the final two weeks with a visit from the undefeated Spartans and then a trip to Ann Arbor for the annual clash with Michigan. Ohio State will be favored in both games, but nothing will come easy against either of these top 20 opponents. They have not always lived up to their potential, but this Ohio State team is the most talented group in the country and should claim the Big Ten crown and a spot in the playoff.

 

  1. Clemson

Clemson proved they have the offensive firepower to win a shootout, putting up 56 points in last week’s win over NC State. This week’s matchup against Florida State will either make or break their season. All eyes will be on Death Valley when the Tigers take on the Seminoles with the winner likely earning a spot in the ACC championship game. After this weekend, Clemson faces three teams with losing records and, if they earn the spot, would play a mediocre team in the conference title game. They have the easiest path to the playoff of all the serious contenders.

 

  1. LSU

LSU will have to run the gauntlet if they hope to win the SEC and earn a spot in the college football playoff, but with superstar running back Leonard Fournette in the backfield, the Tigers seem up to the challenge. The first test comes Saturday night in a trip to Alabama. The winner of this game will take over the top spot in the brutally tough SEC west division. Two more ranked teams remain on the schedule after that, but LSU matches up against Ole Miss and Texas A&M much better than they do against Alabama.

 

  1. Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish have been devastated by injuries this season, and most of the college football world left them for dead when star quarterback Malik Zaire went down, but Notre Dame keeps on winning. They dispatched previously undefeated Temple last week and have three very winnable games left on the schedule before a trip to Stanford to end the season. Notre Dame gets the edge over TCU and Baylor because they are expected to win out, and the committee already has them ranked ahead of both those teams, giving them a better chance to reach the playoff.

 

Which team will have their playoff hopes destroyed this week LSU or Alabama? Does a one loss Notre Dame team deserve to make the playoff over an undefeated Big 12 champion? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4