WELCOME TO THE FUTURE. Or at least to the long-awaited present, a world with a college football playoff. Starting on Oct. 28, a 13-person committee will issue the first of seven rankings based on, among other factors, head-to-head matchups, common opponents and strength of schedule. The top four as of Dec. 7 will play semifinals on New Year's Day, with No. 1 meeting No. 4 and No. 2 playing No. 3. The winners will face off for the title on Monday, Jan. 12, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The new ranking system informed our writers' perspective when they puzzled out SI's Top 25. First, which teams were most likely to make the playoff—and why? And, what would the next 21 need to do to earn a spot in the bracket? The team-by-team breakdowns include an evaluation by a rival coach and a Power Ranking (a mix of percentile calculations and academic grading on a scale of 60 to 100). This should help fill the time until the games begin.
1. FLORIDA STATE
4. OHIO STATE
GARY BOGDON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (FLORIDA STATE)
VASHA HUNT/AL.COM/LANDOV (ALABAMA)
WILLIAM PURNELL/ICON SMI (OKLAHOMA)
THEARON W. HENDERSON/GETTY IMAGES (OHIO STATE)