If Every Team in the First 2015 CFB Playoff Rankings Finished Like Their 2014 Counterparts

November 3, 2015

The first College Football Playoff rankings of the season were released earlier this evening, sending Twitter into a tizzy and either delighting or infuriating your local college campus depending on your locale.

So what does Around The Corn have to say about all of this?

How about, big deal.

The first rankings released by the selection committee means nothing. It’s so insignificant that only a fool would get excited about his or her team’s relative position at this point.

In an effort to drive my point home, I’ve decided to take a look at the current rankings and compare them to the first rankings from the 2014 season. I’ll narrate a scenario for each team loosely based on the way its 2014 counterpart finished its season.

Let’s see how excited you are to discuss the rankings at the watercooler tomorrow morning after reading this.

1. Clemson (2014 counterpart: Mississippi State)

Despite starting strong at the No. 1 slot, the Tigers will fail to beat another ranked team this season and lose its final two games, the last of which no one will watch because they’re all too fixated on the New Year’s ball to drop. Oh, and a Spurrier-less South Carolina team will upset Clemson, too.

2. LSU (2014 counterpart: Florida State)

The Tigers will run the table in the SEC, essentially guaranteeing a spot in the College Football Playoff. But once there, LSU will be let down by its star Leonard Fournette, who is stuffed by the opposing defense in the semifinals and surprises everyone by fumbling on a play in which he slips on the turf. Fournette’s fumble, of course, results in six points.

3. Ohio State (2014 counterpart: Auburn)

Of the teams in the Top 4 this week, the Buckeyes will fall the hardest. Minnesota takes advantage of the offense that looks confused without J.T. Barrett, and Michigan State’s mountain-sized chip on its shoulder will be enough to win in Columbus. Ohio State will also lose its bowl game, which consequently will be played on January 1 when everyone thought they’d be playing on New Year’s Eve.

4. Alabama (2014 counterpart: Ole Miss)

The Crimson Tide are a bit of a surprise inclusion in the Top 4 this week, but people seem to believe they belong. Unfortunately, the week after a loss to LSU, Alabama will see its season derailed completely when Derrick Henry goes down with a gruesome injury near the goal line in the Mississippi State game. A deflated Crimson Tide is obliterated by none other than the twice jilted TCU in its bowl game.

5. Notre Dame (2014 counterpart: Oregon)

The Fighting Irish have looked strong this season and will win out, assuring themselves a spot in the playoff as other teams falter. In the semis, Notre Dame will easily dispatch of a team many believed simply survived the regular season, setting up a chance to avenge their horrid 2013 national title performance. But the memories of that game will resurface in the title game when the Fighting Irish are manhandled on the biggest stage once again.

6. Baylor (2014 counterpart: Alabama)

Baylor will make the playoff thanks to the most simplistic mantra you can possibly live by: just win, baby. Although the Bears will give the Big 12 its coveted spot in the ring, the party won’t last long. What has long been asserted, that the Big 12 doesn’t play defense, will be validated as true when an opposing running back rips through the Baylor defense for an 85-yard touchdown that seals the second semifinal game.

7. Michigan State (2014 counterpart: TCU)

The Spartans will do what they believed necessary to assure itself a spot in the playoff. But the Sunday after Michigan State wraps up a Big Ten title, the committee drops a bomb: the Spartans will not be playing a semifinal game. Angry and motivated, Mike Dantonio’s team goes out and pounds Utah in the Rose Bowl.

8. TCU (2014 counterpart: Michigan State)

After a loss to Baylor knocks the Horned Frogs from playoff contention, Gary Patterson’s team plays without pressure for the rest of the season. Trevone Boykin shows the country why he is one of the most clutch performers in college football as he leads the Horned Frogs to a come from behind victory in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

9. Iowa (2014 counterpart: Kansas State)

The Hawkeyes don’t play flashy football, and no one really believes that they will actually be a threat to make the playoff. After a big loss at home to Minnesota, the Hawkeyes fall completely out of the national spotlight after Michigan State beats them handily in the Big Ten Championship Game. Not even half the country will stay up to watch the entirety of Iowa’s bowl game.

10. Florida (2014 counterpart: Notre Dame)

The Gators win a total of one game after the first College Football Playoff rankings are released, bringing shame to the SEC East. Somehow, Florida finds itself in the bowl game and puts together a performance that will have analysts thinking that Jim McElwain’s team could realistically compete for a playoff spot in 2016.

11. Stanford (2014 counterpart: Georgia)

Despite being the best that the Pac-12 will have to offer, Stanford never really gets close to cracking the Top 4. A tough overtime loss to rival Cal in the regular season finale confirms it. In its bowl game, Christian McCaffrey makes a case for why he should be a Heisman frontrunner heading into 2016.

12. Utah (2014 counterpart: Arizona)

The Utes are having a heck of a year and will be rewarded with an invitation to one of the New Year’s Six bowl games. Unfortunately, they’ll meet a tough Michigan State team in the Rose Bowl which will step on the gas offensively and spoil the end to an otherwise strong season for Utah.

13. Memphis (2014 counterpart: Baylor)

The Tigers will win every game but one this season, but only those in the greater Memphis area will believe that the team is deserving of one of the four playoff spots. The stellar regular season will land the Tigers in a marquee bowl game where Paxton Lynch will play well but be overshadowed when it matters most.

14. Oklahoma State (2014 counterpart: Arizona State)

The Big 12 schedule is back-loaded, but the loss that will hurt the most for the Cowboys is the one against the Sooners. Mike Gundy’s team couldn’t hide forever, which is why they’ll end up as just another team at the end of the year.

15. Oklahoma (2014 counterpart: Nebraska)

A second half collapse by the Sooners becomes as surprising as the strong first half start. Even a victory in the Battle of Bedlam is not enough to sway the Oklahoma faithful; Bob Stoops is let go before the bowl game.

16. Florida State (2014 counterpart: Ohio State)

A last play breakdown against Georgia Tech was just the beginning of Florida State’s crazy season. After demolishing their opponent in the ACC title game, the Seminoles slip into the College Football Playoff as the No. 4 seed. In perhaps the most unlikely 120 minutes of football, Jimbo Fisher’s offense comes alive with third string quarterback J.J. Cosentino and beats Notre Dame convincingly in the national title game. Don’t call it a comeback.

17. Michigan (2014 counterpart: Utah)

Michigan’s fairly difficult schedule to end the regular season will prevent it from making headway in the rankings, but they’ll be back in a bowl game, which is cause for optimism in Ann Arbor. Jim Harbaugh will rally the troops in the postseason and take care of business against a mid-major squad in an early bowl battle.

18. Ole Miss (2014 counterpart: Oklahoma)

At the end of the year, we’ll look back and realize that the Rebels may have gotten lucky in their victory over the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss won’t beat another respectable squad this season and will look flat in a blowout bowl game loss, its second in as many seasons.

19. Texas A&M (2014 counterpart: LSU)

The Aggies don’t have a strong schedule left, but they’ll struggle to win anyway. In its bowl game, Texas A&M will be run all over.

20. Mississippi State (2014 counterpart: West Virginia)

Mississippi State’s tough schedule isn’t the only thing that will hurt the team. A concussion suffered by Dak Prescott will stunt the Bulldogs offense and they will limp to the finish line.

21. Northwestern (2014 counterpart: Clemson)

Northwestern had its day in the spotlight earlier this season, but they’ll be an afterthought for the rest of the year. However, for those that watch the midweek bowl games, the Wildcats will put on a show in the first half and make a statement heading into the 2016 campaign.

22. Temple (2014 counterpart: UCLA)

The close loss to Notre Dame will only serve as a reminder of what could have been for the Owls.

23. UCLA (2014 counterpart: East Carolina)

If UCLA were to win out, they could snag an unlikely New Year’s Six bowl bid. But they won’t, instead landing in one played two days before the national title game. No one but the diehards will care about watching the Bruins or their quarterback that can sling it all over the field with ease.

24. Toledo (2014 counterpart: Duke)

Those in the Glass City are excited for the success that the Rockets are experiencing, and there is hope that a big bowl game may be on the horizon. But a competitive loss to Western Michigan keeps Toledo from the MAC title game and erases any hope of making a New Year’s Six bowl. It will still be counted as a strong season.

25. Houston (2014 counterpart: Louisville)

The fighting Tom Hermans will remain outside of the real playoff conversation, but these guys will compete for the AAC title. Unfortunately, in their bowl game the Cougars will match up against a superior football team and will be exposed.

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