While Week Eleven of college football saw a great number of upsets and potential playoff contenders falling off the radar, the view from the top remained largely unchanged. The top four teams played outmatched opponents and, while some were tested more than they ought to have been, none were shaken to the point that their position was lost. More than that, potential playoff crashers Baylor, Stanford, Utah and LSU all suffered a critical loss, which cleared the way for the top four to remain the top four in the latest Playoff Committee Rankings, which looks like the following yet again:
1 - Clemson
2 - Alabama
3 - Ohio State
4 - Notre Dame
Clemson was challenged early by Syracuse, though by the end of the game they handled the Orange fairly easily and still looked like a complete team in the process. While the Tigers took their first step towards a deflating strength of schedule in the final weeks of the season, their undefeated record is plenty enough to maintain a hold on the number one spot.
Alabama had the only dominant win of the top four teams. While the Tide rank at least third in various strength of schedule and performance metrics, the Ole Miss loss has created something of a glass ceiling against moving past an undefeated and talented Clemson. While it is possible that as the Tigers strength of schedule steadily worsens towards the end of the season Alabama eventually leaps ahead, I think Alabama remains a solid number two for a while.
I predicted last week that the Buckeyes would fall to the number four spot in favor of the Irish, and while I believe the metrics still indicate that this is where Ohio State should be, the committee had no reason to make the change this week if they didn't see fit to last week. The Buckeyes actually improved slightly with regard to strength of schedule and performance metrics, while Notre Dame's numbers are a little bit worse. If anything, the Buckeyes are more suited for the third place slot after their domination of Illinois, and I believe it's appropriate that they stayed there.
Notre Dame's numbers took a slight hit after playing an extremely weak Wake Forest team, and losses by many of their former opponents didn't help either, in particular Temple falling to USF. The Irish strength of schedule fell from an average across various metrics of 14 to an average of 26. This helps justify Ohio State's position ahead of them, and the loss to number one Clemson is still a loss, something missing from the Buckeyes' resume. As a result, Notre Dame gives ground to neither undefeateds Iowa and Oklahoma State nor a surging Oklahoma team propelled up the rankings by a big win over Baylor, but instead holds fast as the fourth team in the third installment of the College Football Playoff Committee Rankings.