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Predicting Where BYU Fits In First College Football Playoff Rankings Of 2021

Nov 1, 2021, 5:50 PM
BYU Football - Jaren Hall...
WACO, TEXAS - OCTOBER 16: Quarterback Jaren Hall #3 of the Brigham Young Cougars looks for an open receiver against the Baylor Bears in the second half at McLane Stadium on October 16, 2021 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – The long-awaited College Football Playoff rankings make their debut for the 2021 season on Tuesday night.

BYU comes into these rankings with a different outlook than last year. In the debut rankings for the COVID-impacted 2020 season, BYU was undefeated and looked poised to be in a position to garner a New Year’s Six at-large spot.

Unfortunately for the Cougars’ sake, that didn’t happen as the Playoff committee ranked BYU No. 14 in the initial rankings due to a weak strength of schedule. A schedule that was cobbled together on a moment’s notice due to power leagues picking up their ball and primarily playing against conference-only schedules.

Fast forward to now, BYU is 7-2 and boasts five wins over Power Five teams. They’ve played a total of six P5s, with the one loss coming against a future Big 12 Conference rival in Baylor.

So it has me wondering, where will the Playoff Committee rank BYU this time around?

BYU is locked into going to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. But if they move into the Top 12 of the Playoff rankings, they could be in the at-large pool for a New Year’s Six game.

This year in college football has been wild, with upsets happening left and right. So it lends itself to a glimmer of hope for BYU to maybe squeeze in still. Remember in 2007, when a two-loss BYU team still had an outside shot at an At-Large BCS birth heading into the final week of the regular season? Similar situation this year.

It still feels doubtful BYU gets anywhere close to being selected for an at-large bid in the New Year’s Six. BYU has no guaranteed access as an Independent. And each week, the Playoff Committee starts its rankings from scratch. So you can’t just assume, win and move up, which tends to be the philosophy in the AP and Coaches Top 25 polls.

With all that said, it will be fascinating to see how the Committee views a BYU team that has won with a demanding schedule, has the acknowledgment of being a future Power Five team and has the track record from last year to show they aren’t a flash in the pan.

Tuesday night should be interesting.

Here are my projections for how the Playoff Committee’s Top 25 will look on Tuesday night. Keep in mind, this is not how I would rank the teams. Instead, it’s what I believe the Committee will rank the teams.

Things like game control, quality wins, and strength of schedule are about to be trendy terms you hear once again in your college football fandom.

Predicting the Committee’s 2021 College Football Playoff Rankings

For November 2, 2021

1. Georgia (8-0)

My take: Pretty easy to decide who’s number one right now. Georgia has been dominant. This is their year.

2. Michigan State (8-0)

My take: I don’t honestly believe the Spartans are the second-best team in the land, but they have one of the best wins, taking down Michigan this past weekend.

3. Alabama (7-1)

4. Oklahoma (9-0)

5. Oregon (7-1)

6. Ohio State (7-1)

7. Cincinnati (8-0)

My take: I’m not expecting Cincinnati to be in the top four. If the Committee does rank them in the top four, it will be no higher than four. The strength of schedule angle will be a consistent talking point in regards to Cincinnati. It’s not fair because Cincinnati could hang with anyone this year in college football, but that’s the sorry system this sport has right now.

8. Michigan (7-1)

9. Wake Forest (8-0)

My take: Every once in a while an undefeated Power Five finds themselves rated low in the initial playoff rankings. I’m looking at Wake Forest fitting the bill here. Game control will probably be brought up in regards to the Demon Deacons.

10. Notre Dame (7-1)

11. Texas A&M (6-2)

12. Auburn (6-2)

13. Oklahoma State (7-1)

14. Baylor (7-1)

15. Ole Miss (6-2)

16. Kentucky (6-2)

17. Iowa (6-2)

18. BYU (7-2)

My take: The loss to Boise State is going to hurt BYU. If BYU won that game, I believe we would be looking at the Cougars as a potential at-large team for the New Year’s Six. But it happened, there’s no other way to spin it.

What helps BYU is that they have five wins over Power Five opponents, but more importantly, they have five wins over winning teams. The strength of BYU’s record is solid. So they’ll likely find themselves in this 17-20 range in the initial rankings.

19. NC State (6-2)

20. Penn State (5-3)

21. Pitt (6-2)

22. Wisconsin (5-3)

23. Houston (7-1)

24. UTSA (8-0)

My take: UTSA’s strength of schedule this year makes BYU’s 2020 schedule look like an SEC slate. The undefeated record for the Roadrunners sneaks them into the Top 25.

25. Minnesota (6-2)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Predicting Where BYU Fits In First College Football Playoff Rankings Of 2021