The College Football Playoff committee released their first rankings for the 2016 season on Tuesday night. The ACC was represented well, with two teams in the top 10 and five total in the top 25 ranking.
No. 2 Clemson (8-0) leads the way for the conference behind only No. 1 Alabama (8-0). The Tigers beat out No. 3 Michigan (8-0) in what was called a “lengthy discussion” for the second position. Clemson was lauded by CFP Committee chair Kirby Hocutt in a conference call with reporters.
“The two wins against CFP top-10 wins were something that stood out to us that nobody else within the CFP Top 25 have.” Hocutt would discuss further, “I think the road wins at Auburn and Florida State impressed the selection committee, and obviously the win at home against Louisville gave the edge to Clemson for that No. 2 spot.”
Louisville (7-1) came in at No. 7, behind Ohio State (7-1) at No. 6, and in what was the biggest surprise of the night No. 5 Washington (8-0) and No. 4 Texas A&M (7-1). Those four spots also initiated a lot of debate amongst the committee. In the end strength schedule was what set Texas A&M apart from the other three.
“Texas A&M has played a stronger schedule, and at this point in time, beating four teams with winning records.” Hocutt would further explain, “Texas A&M won at Auburn and beat Arkansas at a neutral site. Their only loss was on the road against the current No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama.”
The Cardinals seemingly will need a few teams ahead of them to lose to get into the CFP. Hocutt mentioned that margin of victory is not considered, however alluded that Louisville’s recent close calls against Duke and Virginia, could have played a role in their ranking.
“As we look at strength of schedule, we’re also within our discussions talking about how they performed on the field.” Hocutt would continue to describe the thought process for those games. “We spent considerable time talking about the games, the eye test.”
The other three ACC teams in the poll were towards bottom, No. 19 Virginia Tech (6-2), No. 21 North Carolina, and No. 22 Florida State (5-3). The Seminoles, were the only three loss team in the poll, and even ahead of undefeated No.23 Western Michigan (8-0).
The College Football Playoff Rankings will be released every Tuesday, until the final rankings are released on Sunday, December 4th.