The Picks: A conversation about the CFP rankings

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The College Football Playoff rankings came out Tuesday night and received more scrutiny than either basketball team that lost on the same night on national TV.

That’s because the rankings — even the initial ones — matter more than college basketball’s opening night. It’s just the way it is. This is a nation that — for the most part — isn’t getting into hoops until after the Super Bowl.

Just to be clear, the CFP Rankings mattered more than Michigan State and Kansas losing in hoops, but not by a lot.

And that’s fine. 

That’s what they are here for — to stimulate conversation no matter how misguided that conversation may be (I’m looking at you Danny Kanell). Many will see the rankings as meaningless, but you still couldn’t swing a dead squirrel in the air this week (nice imagery, dude) without hearing someone talk about whether or not Clemson is getting jobbed.

The whole thing kind of makes me laugh, because we all fall into the trap that has been set by this format. But I laugh to myself a lot. I think there’s a wire loose in my brain.

The truth is that there were things in the first rankings that did matter:

  • Clearly, the committee values the ACC just a smidgen above the New Jersey Police Athletic League. Clemson will get in if the Tigers win out, but if angry Tigers fans want to blame someone, blame Syracuse, FSU and others for being so lousy.
  • Alabama is still treated like Alabama. To paraphrase Darth Vader, the Brand is strong in this one. 
  • The same message sent out in basketball about non-conference games is being used in football. Play somebody, Baylor and Minnesota. In alphabetical order, their non-cons have been Fresno State, Georgia Southern, Rice, South Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin and Texas-San Antonio. Although I am sure that when those games were being scheduled, both programs were simply hoping to be bowl eligible in 2019.

OK, so I fell into the trap like everyone else. But that’s what college football is. We spend way more time talking about the sport than watching it.

You would think I don’t watch a lot of college football because I missed three picks last week. I am taking the blame for the Florida loss to Georgia, because I picked the Gators and for some reason I wore Georgia black pants to the game.

Oh, and my name is Dooley and one of my buddies is Buck Belue. Maybe I am a Georgia fan. 


 Before we get to The Picks, I just want to say farewell to Will Pantages, who has been with Florida sports information and is now heading to Wake Forest. You always hear about a guy being a pro’s pro, but Will is as good as I’ve ever been around. I already miss him.

The 7-3 record last week dropped my overall record to 78-27 for the season, although my math has been questioned by several people. That and my sanity.

VANDERBILT AT FLORIDA: The really good news for Florida is that Vanderbilt is 128th in the country in third-down conversions. There are 130 teams. And Georgia just converted another third down. Florida, 30-17.

LSU AT ALABAMA: So here’s the deal. Alabama needs this game more than LSU. Nick Saban is the best coach in college football. The game is in Tuscaloosa. So why, Dr. Football, why? LSU, 32-24.

PENN STATE AT MINNESOTA: I wonder how many SEC fans could pick P.J. Fleck out of a lineup if he wasn’t wearing a goofy sweater and tie combination. Again, I wonder about really irrelevant things. Penn State, 30-23.

MISSOURI AT GEORGIA: We’ve seen bigger upsets, right? Georgia, like almost everyone who attended the game, could have a hangover, right? Missouri has lost to Wyoming and Vandy on the road. Never mind. Georgia, 42-12.

TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY: This was the most difficult pick for me. So I flipped a coin. And it converted a third down against Florida’s defense. Tennessee, 21-17.

KANSAS STATE AT TEXAS: This is one more chance for the Longhorns to salvage their, “We’re back” season. Or is it unsalvageable? Texas, 28-24. 

APPALACHIAN ST. AT SOUTH CAROLINA: Methinks the Appy State star is starting to fade. It was fun while it lasted. South Carolina, 24-17.

IOWA ST. AT OKLAHOMA: Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy has more passing yards this season than Jalen Hurts. How’s that for an irrelevant nugget? Oklahoma, 42-28.

FSU AT BOSTON COLLEGE: Not gonna do it. Not gonna pick the Semis any more this year. Nah gah dah (Dana Carvey doing George Bush on SNL reference). Boston College, 31-20.

IOWA AT WISCONSIN: Man, it feels like the team we thought might be a playoff team has been forgotten. And you could apply that to either one of these programs. Wisconsin, 24-20.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. Kansas State beating Oklahoma was no fluke, while South Carolina beating Georgia was. KSU > Texas, and we see Tennessee start to rebound. Keep an open mind with LSU and Bama, but Clemson will definitely be in the final four.