The third installment of the College Football Playoff rankings have been released, and once again the top three are the same three teams the computers have 1-2-3. But things have shifted ever so slightly, and the computers disagree on who's number one -- and, more importantly, who's number four.
The playoff committee's top five didn't change from last week; it's still Clemson-Bama-Ohio State-Notre Dame-Iowa. The computers have Alabama on top this week, but before you throw a fit the margin over Clemson is very small, and Clemson should regain the lead this week. Then again, is playing Wake Forest actually better than playing Charleston Southern?
Right behind Iowa are Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and before Big 12 fans panic it's probably worth considering that the committee clearly places huge value on actual wins over teams which are highly-ranked. Oklahoma jumped five places this week for knocking off previously #6 Baylor; should both Cowboys and Sooners alike survive this weekend, the winner of their game will probably skip past Notre Dame, Stanford or no Stanford. Only the lack of a thirteenth game really threatens the winner.
We really don't care where anyone was ranked last week, of course, as it's supposed to be a blank slate each week anyway. What we do care about is who's over- and underrated by the committee as compared to the Massey Composite Ranking, and the below table illustrates that as clearly as is possible. Green is overrated, red is underrated, and the darker the shade the more egregious the error. Really faint red or green? Don't sweat it. It's not an argument worth having. Really dark Christmas colors? Anyone defending those positions is an absolute nincompoop. So to fans of Utah, Florida State, and Northwestern, and teams who beat them: Shhhhh. Fans of TCU, USC, and Houston? You have beef. Complain loudly and angrily.
As for Iowa? They're still overrated, but the extent to which they are so has decreased dramatically since last week. The Hawkeyes are only three places higher than the computers believe them to be. That's still a problem, because if the committee wasn't overrating the Hawkeyes Oklahoma State and Oklahoma would be 5-6, and Notre Dame would be sweating puddles. But it should still sort itself out when Ohio State turns Iowa into a blood smear in three weeks.
And the most important detail is actually Oklahoma -- who the computers have as the #4 team in the country. That's right, folks: for the first time this fall, the committee actually has the wrong team in the playoff field.