Why CFP may have been reduced to seven candidates

The College Football League Committee released its initial rankings Tuesday night, and with it, the committee may have determined the fate of all but seven programs.

Since the beginning of the CFP era, 29 of the 32 teams that made it to the knockout stages have been placed in the top 7 in the original standings. Only Ohio State in 2014 (No. 16), Oklahoma 2015 (No. 15) and Oklahoma State in 2019 (No. 9) made it to the playoffs after finishing outside the top seven.

That’s good news for Michigan, Alabama and TCU, three teams just outside the top four.

They may be vying for two spots because Tennessee and Ohio State may already have their golden tickets. Since 2016, every team that finished in the top two of the first CFP poll has entered the playoffs. Only Mississippi State 2014 and 2015 LSU failed to make the semifinals after placing in the top two.

The last six national championships were placed in either 1st or 2nd place in the first CFP poll.

The most vulnerable team? That would be number 3 Georgia. 2020 Clemson is the only team to make it to the playoffs after placing 3rd in the first vote. The 4th-placed team won 50% of the playoff time.

It is possible – however unlikely – that a team outside of Pac-12 or LSU No. 10 or Ole Miss No. 11 (if Alabama beats LSU) will win and advance to the knockout stages. As the numbers suggest, it will be truly historic. College football is known for creating wild moments. A team that emerges from outside the top seven will be the wildest.

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