The first College Football Playoff Rankings for the 2016 season will be unveiled tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN, which should give Louisville fans a better understanding of where the Cardinals stand (at least at the moment) and what they need to happen going forward to have a shot at playing for the national title.
Before the rankings are released and the reactions start pouring in from all angles, let's try and forecast how it's going to look. A reminder that these are just my predictions, not how I want them to look or how I would rank these teams if I were the ruler of all things sports ... which is coming.
Here's how I think the top 10 winds up looking:
1. Alabama (8-0)
Unlike the past two years where Mississippi State and Clemson have gotten the first nod for the top spot, there's likely to be little drama or debate when No. 1 is revealed Tuesday night.
2. Clemson (8-0)
Sure, the Tigers have drawn a number of comparisons to the 2014 Florida State squad that eeked out close win after close win before getting waxed by Oregon in the playoff, but for the moment, their superior victories (Auburn, Louisville, Florida State) should give them a leg up over Michigan (Wisconsin, Colorado).
3. Michigan (8-0)
The Wolverines have been dominant, and the computers love them for it, but for now their strength of schedule keeps them at three. That will likely change if they make it through the next five games unblemished.
4. Washington (8-0)
It's not the Huskies' fault that Stanford and Oregon haven't lived up to their preseason expectations. Still, a perfect record and a solid road win over a top 20 Utah team should be enough to keep U-Dub comfortably ahead of the hoard of one-loss teams.
5. Louisville (7-1)
Slots 5-7 are easily going to be the most interesting part of tonight's show. The top four is basically a foregone conclusion, and there's a pretty steep drop-off after the one-loss trip of Louisville, Ohio State and A&M, so perhaps the most pressing question of the night is which one of those teams is first in line to slide in if one of the four ahead of them stumbles (maybe twice).
I think this spot comes down to Louisville and Texas A&M, and my guess is that the Cardinals get the nod because both teams have a single victory over a currently ranked team, and U of L came much closer to knocking off the top two opponent that it fell to. Having said that, I would not be shocked at all to see these two teams flip-flopped.
6. Texas A&M (7-1)
Sure, it's cool that your only loss is to the undisputed No. 1 team in the country, but it was a fairly one-sided loss, and the three teams you beat that were ranked at the time -- Tennessee, Arkansas and UCLA -- have done you zero favors since they lost to you. The good news for the Aggies is that even though they seemingly have next-to-no shot at playing for the SEC title, they do have a quality opponent left on their schedule in LSU, and another team that the computers still love in Ole Miss.
7. Ohio State (7-1)
What this should come down to is that Ohio State, Louisville and Texas A&M all have one win over a current top 25 team, and the Buckeyes' one loss is easily the worst out of the trio. Having said that, this was also the case in 2014 when OSU snagged the fourth spot in the playoff over Baylor and TCU. I think it'd be wrong, but it also wouldn't be stunning to see the Bucks at No. 5 or No. 6.
8. Wisconsin (6-2)
Here's the long drop. The Badgers' only losses came in narrow defeats at the hands of two teams above them (Michigan and Ohio State), and they have two wins (LSU and Nebraska) that are superior to the ones that can be claimed by any other team that thinks they deserve this spot.
9. Auburn (6-2)
The Tigers have quietly been whomping fools for the last month, and their lone losses were both respectable and at the hands of teams ranked above them (Clemson and Texas A&M).
10. Nebraska (7-1)
It could easily be Florida in this spot, but the committee seems to overrank at least one team in their initial rankings because of a big game on the weekend slate immediately in front of it. With Nebraska set to take on Ohio State, I'll say the Huskers get that bump so that the game can be billed as a "top 10 showdown" for the rest of the week.
We'll find out for sure in a few hours.