One week after crushing Syracuse, Notre Dame reverted to form and played an awful game at the LA Coliseum against lowly USC, failing to cover the spread (which cost my sister-in-law money) and earning a disappointing RPG game grade of 77.14. In our rankings no one owns a ranking position. A win does not guarantee retention of a positional ranking. The new game grade is averaged with all others and teams can therefore gain ground on other winners or lose ground to them. Notre Dame lost ground this week and fell from No. 4 in our rankings to No. 5. Out of the playoff field at the moment.

In the CFP rankings, Notre Dame retained its spot simply because it won a game against a nobody. The CFP committee has no factual basis for any of its rankings so the lack of judgment surrounding Notre Dame was to be expected. The Irish now have the surest path to a playoff invitation because their season is over. They are not at risk but the committee is at risk of once again inviting an undeserving team. They’ve done that in every year since the inception of the playoff. The committee’s only hope for redemption is losses by both Georgia and Oklahoma this weekend. Then the Irish could be No. 4. If I were the committee, I’d root for Alabama and Texas.

The top of this week’s rankings looks like this:

  1. Alabama – 101.10
  2. Clemson – 98.56
  3. Georgia – 91.91
  4. Oklahoma – 90.11
  5. Notre Dame – 88.88
  6. Michigan – 86.51
  7. Ohio State – 85.90

A few things to notice:

  1. The debate over whether Alabama deserves a spot should it lose to Georgia is made-for-TV drama concocted by the boys at the sports networks. The lead over No. 4 enjoyed by Alabama makes it mathematically impossible for the No.4 or No. 5 teams to pass them with victories this weekend.
  2. Following their humiliating loss to the Buckeyes, Michigan is still ranked ahead of them. That’s because Ohio State entered that game with a seasonal grade of 85.09 and Michigan came to the field with a grade of 87.89. On average, Michigan lost ground and Ohio State gained ground, but not enough. We ignore head-to-head as having any significance and simply average the game grade with all others on the resume. A winner doesn’t necessarily get ranked above its victim because any team can win an individual game. Our rankings are about how well a team has played over its entire season.

We thought fans might be interested in seeing the offensive and defensive grades for each ranked team since there’s so much talk about how good this or that teams’ offense or defense might be. Here are the offensive grades:

  1. Oklahoma – 129.57
  2. Alabama – 117.11
  3. Georgia – 114.59
  4. West Virginia – 107.70
  5. Clemson – 107. 28
  6. UCF – 104.79
  7. Ohio State – 101.58
  8. Washington State – 100.33
  9. Michigan – 97.79
  10. Notre Dame – 95.39
  11. Texas – 86.11
  12. Washington – 85.87
  13. Penn State – 79.97
  14. Kentucky – 77.40
  15. LSU – 75.04

Here are the defensive grades:

  1. Clemson – 121.13
  2. Alabama – 118.52
  3. Penn State – 109.10
  4. Kentucky – 105.77
  5. Notre Dame – 102.87
  6. Michigan – 101.80
  7. Washington – 100.72
  8. Ohio State – 98.22
  9. Georgia – 97.96
  10. LSU – 97.43
  11. UCF – 96.22
  12. West Virginia – 91.04
  13. Washington State – 89.61
  14. Texas – 86.86
  15. Oklahoma – 76.50

Easy to see that Alabama is best overall because they are second on both lists with very high grades. Also easy to see is that Oklahoma’s fabulous offense is balanced by a nonexistent defense. Alabama and Clemson both have defenses that can slow down Oklahoma’s offense but Oklahoma’s defense would be steamrollered by either of their offenses. The potential outcome is frightening. 100-40?

A disclaimer: offensive and defensive grades are unadjusted for strength of opponents. That adjustment occurs after averaging offensive and defensive grades to create the final grades. The question then is: Would Clemson’s defensive grade be as good against an SEC schedule? Would Oklahoma’s offensive grade be as good against SEC competition?

For a complete list of ranked teams and weekend playing performance grades, visit If you want to know how the numerical grades are calculated, find a copy of Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics wherever you buy books.