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Joe Boozell | | November 1, 2016

What did the CFP picture look like in '14 and '15 at this point?

  Ohio State was far from being considered a lock to win it all two seasons ago.

The first College Football Playoff rankings are set to come out on Tuesday night, and it’s a sign that bowl season is approaching. That also means we’re just more than two months away from crowning a national champion.


Crazy, right? It feels like yesterday that we were watching Appalachian State nearly throw the college football universe into chaos on the opening Thursday night against Tennessee. Alas, we’re at the end of October, and we have enough of a sample size to know which teams are contenders, which are pretenders and which fall in the blurry middle of those two cliché extremes.

With that said, the final College Football Playoff rankings probably won’t look like the ones we see tomorrow. For that matter, they probably won’t resemble the Week 10 AP Poll. Let’s dive into the CFP history books (all two years worth), and see what the final Playoff rankings looked like in comparison to past Week 10 AP Polls.

2014 Week 10 AP vs. Final CFP
Ranking Week 10 AP Poll Final CFP Rankings
1 Mississippi State Alabama
2 Florida State Oregon
3 Alabama Florida State
4 Auburn Ohio State
5 Oregon Baylor
6 Notre Dame TCU
7 Ole Miss Mississippi State
8 Michigan State Michigan State

The moral of the story: A lot can change in a little more than a month.

Dak Prescott is doing wonderful things in the NFL and is the best player in Mississippi State history, but even he couldn’t sustain the Bulldogs’ run at the top two years ago. They fell to seventh in the final CFP rankings. Notre Dame, which was No. 6 in the Week 10 poll, wasn’t even ranked by the end of the season. Auburn (No. 19 in the final rankings) was in danger of becoming an answer to the same trivia question as the Fighting Irish.

On the flip side, the 2014 Buckeyes were something of an anomaly. OSU was a longshot to make the College Football Playoff at the end of October, but ultimately wound up doing so. It ended the season with a confetti parade, for what that’s worth. Florida State and Alabama were threats from the start, and Oregon was the top-ranked team in the Pac-12 all season long.

Now, let’s take a look at 2015:

2015 Week 10 AP vs. Final CFP
Ranking Week 10 AP Poll Final CFP Rankings
1 Ohio State Clemson
2 Baylor Alabama
3 Clemson Michigan State
4 LSU Oklahoma
5 TCU Iowa
6 Michigan State Stanford
7 Alabama Ohio State
8 Notre Dame Notre Dame

There was a time last season when it was not only considered ‘bold’ to pick against Ohio State; it was downright reckless. The Buckeyes had All-American talent at virtually every position in 2015, and yet, they couldn’t edge out Michigan State for a Playoff spot.

MORE: Week 10 AP Poll reactions

Baylor was rolling at this time last year as well, and then it sort of fell off a cliff. The Bears suffered a litany of injuries at the quarterback position, and their already-leaky defense was exposed. Baylor finished the season at No. 17, as Oklahoma made a late charge to capture a Playoff bid for the Big 12.

The Sooners were the No. 14 team in the country last season in Week 10, and though two years is too small of a sample size to start diagnosing patterns, could we see a team in the 10-20 range emerge this season? There are a few viable candidates to do so.

After a so-so start, Auburn has looked awesome lately. Playing in the SEC (and with the Iron Bowl looming), the Tigers will have opportunities to shoot up the rankings. The same can be said of LSU. And hey, 2016 has been a wild year, so let’s get wild. If the top teams in the nation start dropping like flies, and Western Michigan keeps doing Western Michigan things, who knows how far the Broncos can rise?

College Football: Auburn conquers Ole Miss
This college football season is about to get juicy, and Playoff discussions become real on Tuesday night. Tomorrow’s rankings are fun to analyze and overreact to, but as always: take them with a grain of salt.

There is plenty of football left to play.

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