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Early projections for 2023 College Football Playoff ahead of Week 6

Here’s our best guess as to where teams would be ranked if the College Football Playoff Selection Committee was releasing their rankings today.

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The calendar flipped to October on Sunday and that means we have reached Week 6 of the 2023 college football schedule. It’s crazy. It seems like we were anticipating start of the season just yesterday, and yet here we sit already at the midway point of campaign. And with each passing weekend, the the College Football Playoff come into even more focus.

Traditionally, the CFP committee has waited until around Halloween to release its first batch of rankings as by then, they’ll have two months worth of data points to judge contenders. According to their website, their criteria for ranking teams is based off the teams’ on-field performance, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, and at the end of the season, conference championships won (even though we’ve seen teams who didn’t win their conference still get in).

While we’re still weeks out from the committee releasing its first batch of rankings, it’s not too early to guess how they’d stack the top six right now. Here’s our best guess as to how they’d slot the top of the board:

  1. Florida State Seminoles
  2. Texas Longhorns
  3. Georgia Bulldogs
  4. Ohio State Buckeyes
  5. Michigan Wolverines
  6. Oregon Ducks

Not much has changed from our projections from last week, as we still have Florida State projected as No. 1 if the committee were to release their batch of rankings today. The Noles were off on a bye this past week and still have the two biggest resume-boosting wins in the country with their victories over LSU and Clemson. Even with LSU’s loss to Ole Miss, I think the committee would continue to reward FSU. How the team acquits itself against weaker ACC teams will affect its standing as the top ranked tea.

A difference between last week and this week is the flip between Texas and Georgia at two and three, respectively. Texas pounded a ranked Kansas team in a 40-14 victory on Saturday and even with the injury to Jayhawks quarterback Jalon Daniels, I think the committee would reward the Horns for picking up a dominant win over a quality opponent. Meanwhile, Georgia had to scrap it out with a rebuilding Auburn program on the road last Saturday and needed a late Brock Bowers touchdown to survive. The Dawgs being slotted down a spot for this wouldn’t be so much as a punishment as much its just the committee valuing Texas’ win over their’s. And besides, the only thing affected by a flip between No. 2 and No. 3 is the color of the jerseys that the two teams will wear in the semifinals.

Ohio State would round out the playoff participants at No. 4 in this projection, as its road victory over Notre Dame still carries a lot of weight. As a product of #AintPlayedNobody, Michigan still sits right outside of the top four at No. 5 as the Wolverines are still weeks away from playing one of the heavy hitters in the Big Ten. Right below them at No. 6, Oregon jumps Penn State just by virtue of the Ducks being 5-0 and displaying total dominance early. The impending showdown between them and Washington in a few weeks will provide a major data point for both of their CFP candidacies.

Based on these rankings, here is how the College Football Playoffs would look if the season ended today:

Rose Bowl, January 1, 5 p.m. ET

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Georgia

Sugar Bowl, January 1, 8:45 p.m. ET

No. 1 Florida State* vs. No. 4 Ohio State

*The top-ranked team gets to elect where it will play in its semifinal game. In this scenario, FSU would elect to go just over five hours from Tallahassee to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.