Breaking down the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2016

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2016, file photo, Clemson players huddle before the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, in Glendale, Ariz. Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25. Clemson is No. 2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
WASHINGTON – As the first edition of the 2016 College Football Playoff rankings were announced Tuesday night, there were actually fewer surprises than one might have expected. It’s important to remember that these rankings truly don’t mean anything until the final edition, but they shed some light on the way the committee comes to its decisions. This year, their logic is hard to argue with. Sure, some people may have gasped when one-loss Texas A&M came in at No. 4, ahead of undefeated Washington. But that’s exactly why I run my own college football playoff predictor model, which I fashioned last season. It factors in a weighted combination of all the criteria the committee claims to use to make its judgments and attempts to predict the results. I plugged all the updated info on Tuesday, ahead of the selection show. Flip through the slides above to see how the actual rankings compared to the model’s, and who may be over or underrated coming down the stretch of the season. (AP)
Oklahoma State's Ramon Richards (7) runs from West Virginia's Justin Crawford, as he returns an interception 59-yards during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Oklahoma State defeated West Virginia 37-20. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
25. Houston (NR, N/A) 24. Oklahoma State (18, -6) 23. Boise State (24, +1) 22. Utah (16, -6) 21. UNC (21, Even) Two teams – Oklahoma State and Utah – come in a good notch lower in the model than in the actual rankings. It feels safe to chalk this up to recency bias, as the Cowboys are coming off four straight wins (including Saturday’s 37-20 victory over No. 10 West Virginia) and the Utes had won three straight before taking No. 4 Washington to the wire. But neither have particularly strong strengths of schedule (50th/35th in FBS, respectively) and each has a somewhat suspect loss on the resume. If these teams are really that good, they’ll play their way up in the model. If not, they’ll fall appropriately in the CFP rankings. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt) (AP/Brody Schmidt)
Washington State receiver Tavares Martin Jr. (8) beats the Oregon State defense to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)
20. Washington State (25, +5) 19. Oklahoma (14, -5) 18. Western Michigan (23, +5) 17. Baylor (17, Even) 16. Penn State (12, -4) Both Washington State and Western Michigan seem a bit underrated with the seasons they’ve had, but there’s a big difference between the two. The Cougs still have chances to pad their resume with big wins, finishing the season at Colorado and home against Washington. No such luck for the Broncos, who have to keep rowing that boat upstream and hoping they stay undefeated. Oklahoma seems a bit high, but they face three of the Big 12’s best their final three games. The Sooners’ fate will be decided on the field. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez) (AP/Timothy J. Gonzalez)
Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips (5) picks up yardage against Pittsburgh during an NCAA college football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/John Heller)
15. West Virginia (20, +5) 14. Virginia Tech (19, +5) 13. Colorado (15, +2) 12. Wisconsin (9, -3) 11. Nebraska (10, -1) The model likes both Dana Holgerson’s and Justin Fuente’s clubs better than the voters, which may be a good sign of their chances down the stretch. The one-loss Mountaineers still have Baylor and Oklahoma on the docket, but both in Morgantown. The Hokies have four winnable games and already control their own conference destiny, thanks to a resounding 34-3 pummeling of North Carolina. Oh, and don’t sleep on Colorado. The Buffs have two hard-fought road losses, at Michigan and USC, and are in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South. (AP Photo/John Heller) (AP/John Heller)
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2016, file photo, Washington coach Chris Petersen yells from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Stanford, in Seattle, Wash. After nearly a decade of dominance, Oregon is limping into Saturday's rivalry game in Eugene, Ore., against the No. 5 Huskies with a 3-game losing streak, while Washington is rising in its second year under coach Petersen.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
10. LSU (13, +3) 9. Florida (11, +2) 8. Auburn (9, +1) 7. Washington (5, -2) Yeah, so, Washington failing to crack the top four of the CFP rankings was no surprise here. The model punishes the Huskies for the second-worst SOS in the Pac-12 (38) and the overall sluggishness of the conference, which rates just fourth-best in the country. As the committee said Tuesday, you don’t get any points for leading your conference, just for actually winning it. If the Huskies do so, they’ll move up. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an outsider from this SEC crop, Auburn is one of only five teams in the country to rank in the top 10 in SOS and net point differential, and they get Alabama in the final game of the year. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (AP/Ted S. Warren)
FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) scrambles during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. After blowing away opponents in the first four games, Ohio State’s plummet back to earth has included offensive woes, an upset by unranked Penn State and a narrow escape against three-touchdown underdog Northwestern at home. Coach Urban Meyer has taken to calling the team a “project” still in the works, as if to reset expectations that soared in the first month of the season when quarterback Barrett was breaking school passing records and new ball-hawking stars were emerging on the defense. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
6. Louisville (7, +1) 5. Ohio State (6, +1) These two are basically in the same spot as the committee has them, except the model dropped UW below them. Both are strong one-loss teams, though Ohio State has more chance to improve its lot with showdowns against Nebraska and Michigan still to come. The Cardinals are reduced to hoping Houston and maybe Kentucky can sneak into the rankings before those showdowns to help pump up their SOS. There’s plenty of room for either of them if teams ahead stumble. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
Texas A&M's Christian Kirk (3) celebrates a touchdown against New Mexico State during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
4. Texas A&M (4, Even) Yes, the model had Texas A&M at No. 4, by a fraction over the Buckeyes. While wins over UCLA and Tennessee may not look as impressive now, the Aggies’ 29-16 victory at Auburn certainly stands out. Their only loss is to Alabama, despite the seventh-toughest schedule in the country. Of course, they share a division with the Crimson Tide, meaning it’ll be awful tough to even make the SEC title game. IF A&M is able to win out and there are weak champions from the Pac-12 and Big 12, they may be able to sneak in anyway. (AP Photo/Sam Craft) (AP/Sam Craft)
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh talks with quarterback Wilton Speight (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan State, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
2-Tie. Michigan (3, +1) Amazingly, despite all the various inputs into the model, the second and third teams in the model actually tied. Michigan is winning games by an average of 35 (!) points, the best margin of victory in the country by nearly five points per game. They’re also one of only two teams who have yet to allow 100 points – the other is Florida, who has played one fewer game. Iowa on the road in two weeks should be a decent game, but not a real test. The road to the playoff goes through Columbus on November 26. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (AP/Carlos Osorio)
Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett catches a touchdown pass against Florida State in the closing minutes of an  NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Clemson won 37-34. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
2-Tie. Clemson (2, Even) Clemson has played the country’s toughest schedule and come out unscathed so far. There have been plenty of close calls – NC State, anyone? — but the rest of the schedule is very soft. If the Tigers can keep themselves from slipping up against the likes of Pitt and Wake Forest, they’ll cruise to the ACC title game against what they hope will be a ranked North Carolina or Virginia Tech squad. Pass that test, and the playoff is a lock. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) (AP/Mark Wallheiser)
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) jumps out of bounds after attempting a touchdown against Texas A&M defensive back Armani Watts during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
1. Alabama (1, Even) There’s no surprise here, as the Crimson Tide are as much of a consensus top team as we’ve seen in a while. The fact that A&M – who they just beat by 19 – debuted at No. 4 should give Alabama solace that they may even have some wiggle room to get in with a loss. Surprisingly, Bama is only a touchdown favorite at Death Valley this weekend and still has to play Auburn to close the season. But until anyone really tests them down the stretch, they’re all but locked into a New Year’s Eve game. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) (AP/Brynn Anderson)
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FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2016, file photo, Clemson players huddle before the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, in Glendale, Ariz. Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25. Clemson is No. 2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
Oklahoma State's Ramon Richards (7) runs from West Virginia's Justin Crawford, as he returns an interception 59-yards during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Oklahoma State defeated West Virginia 37-20. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Washington State receiver Tavares Martin Jr. (8) beats the Oregon State defense to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)
Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips (5) picks up yardage against Pittsburgh during an NCAA college football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/John Heller)
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2016, file photo, Washington coach Chris Petersen yells from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Stanford, in Seattle, Wash. After nearly a decade of dominance, Oregon is limping into Saturday's rivalry game in Eugene, Ore., against the No. 5 Huskies with a 3-game losing streak, while Washington is rising in its second year under coach Petersen.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) scrambles during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. After blowing away opponents in the first four games, Ohio State’s plummet back to earth has included offensive woes, an upset by unranked Penn State and a narrow escape against three-touchdown underdog Northwestern at home. Coach Urban Meyer has taken to calling the team a “project” still in the works, as if to reset expectations that soared in the first month of the season when quarterback Barrett was breaking school passing records and new ball-hawking stars were emerging on the defense. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Texas A&M's Christian Kirk (3) celebrates a touchdown against New Mexico State during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh talks with quarterback Wilton Speight (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan State, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett catches a touchdown pass against Florida State in the closing minutes of an  NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Clemson won 37-34. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) jumps out of bounds after attempting a touchdown against Texas A&M defensive back Armani Watts during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

How did the first edition of the 2016 college football rankings compare to our internal model? Click through the slides above to find out.

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