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Leonard: Frogs' leap to No. 3 doesn't make sense
1203CFPRankingsColumn
TCU’s Trevone Boykin holds off Texas’ Paul Boyette Jr. during the second half Thursday in Austin, Texas. - photo by Ashley Landis

College Football Playoff rankings

1. Alabama 11-1

2. Oregon 11-1

3. TCU 10-1

4. Florida State 12-0

5. Ohio State 11-1

6. Baylor 10-1

7. Arizona 10-2

8. Michigan State 10-2

9. Kansas State 9-2

10. Mississippi State 10-2

11. Georgia Tech 10-2

12. Ole Miss 9-3

13. Wisconsin 10-2

14. Georgia 9-3

15. UCLA 9-3

16. Missouri 10-2

17. Arizona State 9-3

18. Clemson 9-3

19. Auburn 8-4

20. Oklahoma 8-3

21. Louisville 9-3

22. Boise State 10-2

23. Utah 8-4

24. LSU 8-4

25. Southern Cal 8-4

The College Football Playoff rankings are getting downright laughable. How else can you explain the latest installment released Tuesday night?

Florida State, the lone major-conference unbeaten, is No. 4 in the country. Alabama, Oregon and Texas Christian are all ahead of the Seminoles.

At least the Tide and Ducks have been for weeks, but how do you explain the Horned Frogs jumping FSU this week? The committee clearly was impressed with a 38-point victory against 6-6 Texas (by TCU) and concerned by an uninspired five-point win against 6-5 Florida (by Florida State). That’s all good and well, but the schedule is much larger than one week for those two teams.

The committee has outsmarted itself here. It’s also clearly bought into the Southeastern Conference hype machine.

When Alabama struggles with four-loss teams such as Auburn and LSU and can’t put away 6-6 Tennessee, it doesn’t matter because it’s the mighty SEC. Even losing to 9-3 Ole Miss shouldn’t dent the Crimson Tide’s perceived greatness, as the argument goes.

But let Florida State keep beating teams but not look great, and the Seminoles suffer the consequences.

All these mental gymnastics have moved Ohio State to No. 5 in the CFP rankings, one spot from entry into the playoff, heading into its Big Ten championship game matchup with Wisconsin. That might be an even more inexplicable decision.

It can’t be stated loudly enough that the Buckeyes lost by two touchdowns on their home field to 6-6 Virginia Tech. That’s the same Hokies who lost 6-3 in double overtime to Wake Forest in November. That should be game, set, match for Ohio State’s playoff hopes. No worse loss exists among the six most serious contenders for the four playoff spots, and the Buckeyes are now down to their third-string quarterback.

Fans can argue that injuries shouldn’t affect ranking, but much as those folks may not like it, these rankings are based on teams as they are now. It applies in seeding for the NCAA basketball tournament, and it’s in play in the middle of the season. Just because Ohio State wants you to ignore it now doesn’t change what rankings are.

And a win against 10-2 Wisconsin (13th in CFP), which lost to Northwestern and LSU and didn’t face a Big Ten team ranked in the current CFP top 25, shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion of the Buckeyes. If Ohio State makes the playoff, it’s all about brand name and not the results on the field.

But nothing should shock anyone now. The Bowl Championship Series wasn’t perfect. But at least it was a step up from the system that preceded it.

The College Football Playoff is doing everything it can to make us wonder if its flawed predecessor might be preferable to what we have now. That’s reason enough for a hearty laugh and some serious concern.

Clark Leonard: cleonard@gainesvilletimes.com; 770-718-3418; twitter.com/SportTimesClark

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