Debating and even arguing about the first College Football Playoff rankings can be enjoyable to a degree, but teams are bound to fall out of the picture during the final five weeks of the season.
While Cinderella stories are great, storybook endings in the Football Bowl Subdivision rarely include a national championship. These programs deserve credit for their accomplishments so far, but they won’t finish the 2015 campaign as contenders for the crown.
First-year coach Jim McElwain has already corralled the program and placed it on the right track. Heck, whether or not people want to admit it, the Gators actually have a better résumé than third-ranked Alabama at this moment. Florida’s only loss is to No. 2 and undefeated LSU.
The fans in Gainesville will look back at the 2015 season as a success, but they won’t be reminiscing about a national championship. Florida State and the SEC West Division champion remain on the schedule, and the Gators offense will fall short of winning twice.
Iowa is perhaps the best story of the season. Kirk Ferentz, the coach of the Hawkeyes for the last 17 years, found himself on a quickly warming hot seat. Although Iowa is No. 9 right now, the team hadn’t been ranked since 2010. Plus, the last time the Hawkeyes won 10 games was 2009.
As long as Iowa continues on its current path, 2015 will be the best campaign in its history. If the Hawkeyes beat Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska—and a 13-20 combined record—they’ll achieve a program-record 12 wins.
But victory No. 13 absolutely must come in the Big Ten Championship Game, and that’s highly unlikely because Ohio State or Michigan State will emerge from the East Division. It’s a great season for Iowa, even if Ferentz doesn’t lift the national championship trophy.
It’s truly a shame Seth Russell is sidelined for the season, because Baylor probably would’ve punched its ticket to the playoff. Jarrett Stidham will continue being a suitable replacement, but the true freshman isn’t ready for the gauntlet.
The Bears’ next three outings include a home game vs. No. 15 Oklahoma and road matchups against Oklahoma State and TCU, which are ranked 14th and eighth, respectively. Baylor would be a tremendously fun team to watch in the CFP, but it won’t survive all three Big 12 opponents.
Life in the SEC is not easy. The Tigers are about to remember that fact. They’ve already knocked off Mississippi State and Florida on the road but need to fight through No. 3 Alabama (road), No. 18 Ole Miss (road) and No. 19 Texas A&M (home) before even reaching the SEC title game.
Leonard Fournette is beyond amazing, but what happens when a defense contains him? Both Alabama and Ole Miss are ranked top-20 nationally against the run in conference play. The LSU offense will be limited without a dominant Fournette, and the 2015 season won’t end with a championship.