For Playoff Contenders, Beginning Third Has Been Unhealthy Information | Sports activities Information

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP School Soccer Author

If the five-year historical past of the School Soccer Playoff has taught us something it’s this: Do not begin off third within the preliminary rankings.

The 13-member choice committee headed by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens gathered at a resort in Grapevine, Texas, on Sunday to hammer out its first prime 25 of the season. Will probably be revealed Tuesday evening.

It is going to present the primary have a look at what the committee is considering the contenders. LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Penn State are all anticipated to be within the combine for these valuable prime 4 slots.

Over the past 5 years, 11 of the 20 groups to seem within the prime 4 of the committee’s preliminary rankings went on to succeed in the playoff. The hit charge has been going up. In 2014, simply one of many preliminary first 4 superior to the playoff: second-place Florida State. That elevated to 2 the following two years. The final two years, three of the preliminary prime 4 made the playoff.

However by no means the workforce ranked third out of the gate.

Final yr, that was LSU, behind Alabama and Clemson and forward of Notre Dame. Like final yr, days after the primary playoff rankings are launched, the Tigers and Crimson Tide will play. In line with the AP {Top} 25 rankings, will probably be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup — simply the 26th within the common season within the 83-year historical past of the ballot and the primary since LSU and Alabama matchup in 2011.

Final yr, LSU had already misplaced a recreation going into the Alabama showdown. When the Tide smoked the Tigers, they had been by no means in critical playoff competition once more.

This yr, LSU and Alabama are unbeaten, and even earlier than the primary CFP rankings are launched the query is: Will the {latest} Sport of the Century be an playoff elimination recreation or only a strategy to decide seeding for 2 of the most effective 4 groups within the nation? LSU-Alabama is one in every of a number of big remaining video games involving playoff hopefuls. One other one is Penn State at Minnesota on Saturday in a matchup of unbeaten groups. Down the highway, unbeaten Baylor will play one-loss Oklahoma and Penn State additionally has a showdown at Ohio State which may very well be the Massive Ten’s model of LSU-Alabama.

What might actually flip the race inside out are upsets. With 4 weeks left earlier than championship weekend when the playoff and bowl recreation berths are set, unranked groups with alternatives to supply potential twists and turns:

Iowa State at No. 9 Oklahoma. The Cyclones got here into the season ranked and regarded perhaps the third-best workforce within the Massive 12. They’ve misplaced 3 times, however by a mixed 10 factors. If the Sooners had been to take a second loss, abruptly Baylor turns into not simply the most effective playoff hope for the Massive 12, however perhaps the one one.

UCLA at No. eight Utah. The Bruins have gained three straight video games after a horrible begin and are nonetheless in command of their Pac-12 South championship hopes. The Utes have been dominant, however coach Chip Kelly might flip this into his first signature win at UCLA and wreck the Pac-12’s hope of a Utah-Oregon title recreation matching 11-1 groups.

Penn State at Indiana. The Hoosiers are on their strategy to their finest season in 15 years and they’ll face the Nittany Lions after Minnesota and earlier than Ohio State.

Texas A&M at Georgia. The Aggies have already confronted Alabama and Clemson. The Bulldogs is perhaps extra at their stage. One other loss would all however eradicate the Bulldogs and will complicate the SEC’s hopes of touchdown two groups within the remaining 4.

Texas A&M at LSU. If LSU is No. 1, this might be the third top-ranked workforce the Aggies have confronted this season. One other probability to derail the SEC’s grasp plan.

Clemson at South Carolina. Clemson has gained 5 straight within the rivalry and most haven’t been shut. It is laborious to search out even a touch of upset potential on the Tigers’ schedule, however a rivalry recreation on the highway? Possibly? And one loss may very well be one too many for Clemson contemplating the state of the remainder of the ACC.

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