Tom Murphy explains Top 25 ballot

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, December 3, 2017
Clemson's Kelly Bryant (2) scrambles past Miami's Joe Jackson (99) during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Photo by Associated Press
Clemson's Kelly Bryant (2) scrambles past Miami's Joe Jackson (99) during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

1 Clemson

2 Oklahoma

3 Georgia

4 Alabama

5 Ohio State

6 Wisconsin

7 USC

8 Miami, Fla.

9 Auburn

10 Penn State

11 Central Florida

12 Washington

13 TCU

14 Oklahoma State

15 LSU

16 Notre Dame

17 Northwestern

18 Virginia Tech

19 Washington State

20 Michigan State

21 Memphis

22 Mississippi State

23 Stanford

24 South Florida

25 N.C. State

Dropped out: Fresno State

Good morning, college football junkies. It's the final Sunday of the regular season rankings and I have a final four here that I'm sure you'll all find to your liking.

Clemson's dominant 38-3 dismantling of Miami in the ACC championship game gives the Tigers the No. 1 spot. Clemson's only loss was a close one on the road in which quarterback Kelly Bryant was taken out with a concussion. The Tigers deserve this over No. 2 Oklahoma, which had a proportional conference title victory over TCU but suffered its one loss at home to a five-loss team.

Georgia is solid at No. 3, its bounce back win over Auburn three weeks after a 23-point loss to the Tigers a confirming ticket to the playoff.

I read and listened to all the reasoned debates from the experts last night on the Alabama vs. Ohio State battle. It really comes down to which points you value more -- conference champion vs. eye test vs. quality of wins vs. nature of losses and so on. Regional biases could play a role in everyone's perspective.

I give No. 4 to Alabama. The Crimson Tide's only loss was on the road by 12 points at Auburn, which was as hot as any team in the country last weekend. Alabama withstood injuries on defense that I think would have made many other teams in the top 10 into very vulnerable opponents.

I simply cannot overlook the fact that Ohio State has a 31-point loss to a five-loss team and also fell at home by 15 points. The Buckeyes are No. 5.

Having written this, prior to the reveal of the College Football Playoff selection committee's final rankings, I think that group will feel the pull to have four different conference champions represented in its playoff pairings rather than two SEC teams. It's a tough call.

I think Auburn's 28-7 loss to Georgia is reflective of a) the difficulty of having to get a team on its sharpest edge three out of four weeks and b) the injuries to Kerryon Johnson that clearly kept him from being at his best. I'm not buying one ounce into the theory of Gus Malzahn's candidacy for the Arkansas coaching job causing a distraction or feeding into a "lack of focus" for the Tigers. Did you see Malzahn's facial expressions and reactions?

No. 11 Central Florida is the easy choice for joining the New Year's Six slate of bowls. That's a remarkable turnaround for a team that was winless two seasons ago. Thank you for the great theater of yesterday's 62-55 overtime victory against Memphis as well.

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