Last week's initial rankings from the College Football Playoff Committee presented as many questions as answers, but tonight's second weekly release could bring the picture more sharply into focus.
There were, and still are, four undefeated teams from the Power Five conferences, along with UCF from the Group of Five. SEC members Georgia and Alabama were ranked Nos. 1 and 2. Meanwhile, Wisconsin and Miami were relegated to 9th and 10th, behind six schools that had already suffered one loss.
Ohio State and Penn State helped clear up this situation with losses over the weekend. Miami will get the bigger jump because of its demolition of a ranked Virginia Tech team. Wisconsin ran over Indiana, but the Hoosiers are just 3-6. The committee's issue with the Badgers is a soft schedule that has no Penn State, no Ohio State and no Michigan State. It's not Wisconsin's fault as the Big Ten makes out the conference slate. The issue with Miami had been that it needed late heroics to escape losses against mediocre teams. The 28-10 win over the Hokies on Saturday helped the 'Canes cause immensely and show how betting odds work as they opened as just a slim underdog to Notre Dame this week. Prior to the win over Virginia Tech, Miami would have likely been the underdog by a touchdown or more.
The SEC has a great shot at getting two teams - Georgia and Alabama - into the final 4. If both win out, the loser in the SEC Championship game would have just 1 loss. As long as one team doesn't annihilate the other, both are in. The Big 12 is down to Oklahoma and TCU as viable candidates. So where is the PAC-12?
Washington (7-1) was ranked 12th. Will the 38-3 rout of Oregon help move the Huskies significantly up the ladder? No other team in the conference has a legitimate shot at climbing into the top 4. And Washington's problem is the same as Wisconsin's - a strength of schedule ranking of 70 which is one spot behind Wisconsin, but a heavy backend slate that features Stanford, Utah and Washington State could help.
UCF was the highest-ranked Group of Five team which could ultimately land the Golden Knights in a Big Six Bowl. Fellow American Conference member Memphis was five positions behind the 18th-ranked Knights. Both teams won over the weekend. All signs are pointing to this race being decided when the "War On I-4" rivalry pits UCF against USF at the end of the season. Depending on what happens with Memphis between now and then, a win over the Knights could catapult the Bulls into consideration.
Don't forget the MAC where where an unappreciated Toledo is 8-1 against the 82nd-ranked schedule. With two losses, the best football odds aren't in favor of San Diego State or Boise State.
The month of November has just begun. The playoff committee rankings are only beginning to take shape. The next four weeks of college football promise to be wildly entertaining.