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College Football Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 17 (2020)

by December 21, 2020

So, did Notre Dame ruin its chances of getting into the College Football Playoff? At this point, does Notre Dame even want to get into the College Football Playoff?

Okay, that second question was a bit sarcastic. In my mind, the team who gets the No. 4 seed essentially earns the right to get beaten soundly by Alabama. I hate to say it, but it’s true.

While it seems like the national championship will come down to Alabama and Clemson once again, there’s still an argument to be had about whether Notre Dame, Texas A&M, or maybe Oklahoma deserve to be in the Playoff. Here’s how I’d sort the top four in my final power rankings of the season.

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1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)

As someone who bet Alabama -15.5 late Saturday, I was a bit disappointed in the Tide for failing to cover. However, it’s obvious that Alabama is the top team in the nation, and they’ll likely destroy whoever they match up with in the playoff semi-finals New Year’s Day.

2. Clemson Tigers (10-1)

Well, anyone who doubted the Tigers are looking like fools right now. That includes me as a Notre Dame +10.5 investor. Was that line the trap of the year, or what?

Anyways, Trevor Lawrence is amazing. The Clemson defense showed what it can do with extended time to prep. Clemson looked so good, they have people questioning whether the Fighting Irish should still be in the final four. They should be a heavy favorite over Ohio State, their likely opponent on New Year’s Day.

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1)

These are my power rankings, so I’ll do what I want! Trust me, I acknowledge this is not how the committee will rank the top three. We can’t have a third contest between the Irish and Tigers before the championship game.

But if you ask me, Notre Dame is still the third-best team in the country, despite what happened Saturday. They’re very clearly behind the elites in Clemson and Alabama. But they’re better than Ohio State and Texas A&M.

One of the foundations of being a good sports bettor is not overreacting to what we last saw. Shouldn’t the same be the case for an Irish team that clearly deserves a chance to not get blown out by Alabama?

4. Texas A&M Aggies (8-1)

Let the controversy begin. The committee definitely won’t put A&M in over Ohio State. If anything, A&M will get the final spot ahead of Notre Dame. But this would be my top four if I had a vote.

I’ve written before that the Aggies in a normal college football season wouldn’t be deserving of being a playoff team. I still believe that. However, they’ve done more than Ohio State has to earn its spot.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) 

Let me make it clear: the Buckeyes are a shell of their past teams. And while the final score was 22-10, Ohio State wasn’t in control of the Big Ten Championship Game until the very end. If not for some costly mistakes from Northwestern in the closing stretches, Ohio State easily could’ve lost the Big Ten title.

I’m not a huge fan of Justin Fields and this defense still has issues in the secondary that Northwestern simply couldn’t expose. They’ll make the playoff, and they’ll get obliterated.

6. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0) 

I’ve been an advocate for Cincinnati getting a fair shot at the Playoff, and that simply hasn’t happened. The committee made that clear by dropping the Bearcats in the rankings after being idle the last few weeks.

The Bearcats will represent the Group of Five in a New Year’s Six bowl game after needing a last-second field goal to secure the American championship. I pity the team that gets matched up with them.

7. Oklahoma Sooners (8-2)

The Sooners finished the season strong to win another Big 12 championship. They certainly got some help from Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who threw three interceptions in the game. But what Oklahoma lacked in offensive firepower it made up for with its defense this season.

Yes, I just used Oklahoma and defense in the same sentence. If the Sooners had just lost only one game, they’d probably have as good a shot as anyone to get the final playoff berth.

8. Florida Gators (8-3) 

Credit Florida, they fought their hearts out. But they came up just a little bit short against the favorite to become the national champion. Why does this ranking matter for Florida? They need to ensure they’re ranked ahead of Georgia to have a chance at making a New Year’s Six bowl. However, it’s fair to wonder how motivated the Gators will be for their upcoming bowl after how their season ended. It wouldn’t stun me if stars Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts opted out of the game too.

9. Georgia Bulldogs (7-2) 

The Bulldogs were a different team with J.T. Daniels under center. The problem was it took too long for Daniels to assume the starting duties. Their two losses to Florida and Alabama will likely keep them out of the New Year’s Six conversation.

10. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (10-0) 

You know I had to get the Chants in this, right? Sadly, we didn’t get to see Coastal take on Louisiana for the Sun Belt title. We don’t know if this game will be rescheduled, or if both teams will move onto their respective bowl games. But hopefully, Coastal Carolina gets another high-profile opportunity to cap its perfect season.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @RealMattBarbato.

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