The REAL Top 25 - 2023 Final Edition

The CFP releases its final rankings at noon today - and there will surely be controversy. Will the committee exclude an undefeated Florida State (who also holds a win over LSU)? Or will they exclude the SEC champ for the first time ever? Anyway, we all know the stakes, so on to the rankings! I'll keep things brief for most of the teams that didn't play this week.

1) Michigan (13-0) I think you could easily make an argument for Washington in the top spot here. Michigan didn't even face a conference opponent that ended up with a winning record until November 11. But then they went 4-0 against the four best teams in the conference (Penn State, Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa). Is that better than getting two wins over Oregon plus two wins over CFP ranked teams (Arizona, Oregon State)? Probably not. But in the end, I think Michigan's dominance in most of their games vs. Washington's many close games will put the Wolverines into the top spot. (Last week: 2)

2) Washington (13-0) Most people (bettors, analysts, fans) thought Oregon would avenge their earlier loss to Washington. But the Huskies found a way to win yet another close game and finish out their undefeated season. Washington went 6-0 in one-score games, so they certainly had an element of luck along the way. If they end up getting placed against Florida State in the CFP (assuming Florida State moves up past Georgia and isn't passed by anyone else), I don't think Washington will mind getting second billing here. (Last week: 3)

3) Florida State (13-0) This is where the real controversy starts. Florida State just beat the #14 ranked CFP team (Louisville) and were already ranked in the top four last week. As mentioned above, they also hold a win over #13 LSU... and Clemson as well (ranked #23). There is no reason for them to fall. But unfortunately I think the committee will heavily weigh their less impressive offensive performances without their injured star QB. And it will be extremely difficult to overlook how successful the SEC has been in the CFP in recent years (although the rankings should only be based on this year's performance). It wouldn't be a shock to see the committee drop Florida State to #5 or even #6, but I think it would be very wrong. (Last week: 4)

4) Texas (12-1) If Texas didn't hold a win over Alabama, it would have been much easier for the committee to leave undefeated FSU in and put Alabama in the top four while giving Texas the shaft. But there is no way to overlook a head-to-head result when their resumes are otherwise quite similar. Texas should be in - the only question is if the committee will put them at #3 or #4. (Last week: 5)

5) Alabama (12-1) Can a team really vault from CFP #8 to the top four with a single win? We are already seeing the arguments. If the committee previously had them a bit higher (like I did at #6), then it would be easier to justify. Like Florida State, Alabama has a win over LSU. Their win over Ole Miss is comparable to FSU's win over Louisville. Is a win over Georgia enough to make up for their earlier loss to Texas and vault them over an *undefeated* Power Five champ? We'll find out soon enough (Last week: 6)

6) Georgia (12-1) The Bulldogs didn't schedule a tough out-of-conference opponent and that will come back to bite them here. Wins over Missouri and Ole Miss are nice but nothing to write home about. There just isn't enough here to keep them in over Florida State (or Texas for that matter). It's tough to fall from #1 to out of the playoffs with one loss, but that's how it goes. (Last week: 1)

7) Ohio State (12-1) Idle this week (Last week: 7)

8) Oregon (11-2) The Ducks couldn't quite get it done against Washington in their rematch. But they shouldn't get punished too harshly in the rankings (Last week: 8)

9) Ole Miss (10-2) Idle this week. I'll just repeat my surprise that the committee continues to favor Missouri over OIe Miss. I think Ole Miss would be a more deserving participant in the New Years Six bowls, but I get that the separation between teams is pretty minimal. (Last week: 9)

10) LSU (9-3) Idle this week (Last week: 10)

11) Oklahoma (10-2) Idle this week (Last week: 11)

12) Missouri (10-2) Idle this week (Last week: 12)

13) Penn State (10-2) Idle this week. In a just world, their ranking in the CFP would take a hit due to Iowa being their only meaningful win and the Hawkeyes once again showing they are incapable of competing against good teams. But I'm guessing Penn State will stay in the CFP top ten and get a NY6 berth. (Last week: 13)

14) Arizona (9-3) Idle this week (Last week: 15)

15) Louisville (9-3) They could have made things easier on the committee by knocking off Florida State. But instead, we get to enjoy all this controversy and chaos. Louisville shouldn't fall too far in the polls after losing to an undefeated team, but they could lose out on a guaranteed berth in the Orange Bowl if Florida State is left out of the playoff. (Last week: 14)

16) Notre Dame (9-3) Idle this week (Last week: 16)

17) NC State (9-3) Idle this week (Last week: 17)

18) Clemson (8-4) Idle this week (Last week: 19)

19) Oklahoma State (9-4) Well, bad Oklahoma State showed up this week. There's no shame in losing to Texas, but the game was obviously over by sometime in the second quarter. (Last week: 18)

20) Oregon State (8-4) Idle this week (Last week: 21)

21) Iowa (10-3) In a surprise to no one, Iowa couldn't get any offense going against Michigan. They lost a combined 57-0 to the two ranked teams they played this year and also had a loss to unranked Minnesota. (Last week: 20)

22) Kansas State (8-4) Idle this week (Last week: 22)

23) Kansas (8-4) Idle this week (Last week: 23)

24) Utah (8-4) Idle this week (Last week: 24)

25) Liberty (13-0) Congrats to Liberty for going undefeated. If they didn't have literally the easiest schedule in all of FBS, they probably would have been taken more seriously. It will be interesting to see who the committee ranks highest among the Group of Five, since one of them is guaranteed a NY6 berth. Tulane had previously been ranked #22 and Liberty #24. But with Tulane losing to SMU, I wonder if SMU (or maybe Troy or Miami Ohio) might now make an appearance ahead of Liberty. (Last week: 25)

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