How Memphis can reach the College Football Playoff

The initial release of the College Football Playoff selection committee's rankings prompted all the typical conversations.

Is Clemson really the best team? Why isn't Baylor in the top four? Why is Alabama the highest-ranked one-loss team?

These are all fun questions that will quickly become trivial as conference championship battles are resolved over the next five weeks. But our experience with the 2014 selection committee taught us a couple of lessons. One is that everything is not always neatly settled on the field by game results. The other is that we shouldn't read too much into this first set of rankings. After all, last season's eventual national champion, Ohio State, was ranked 16th in the selection committee's initial take.

It's in that spirit that we should look at the teams ranked in the teens by the committee this week and ask which ones are capable of making a similar big leap. Any team from a Power 5 conference with fewer than two losses can be given a legitimate chance. But there's one team not fitting that description that may have playoff life, even if most people aren't paying it much attention.

Conventional wisdom says it would take a minor miracle for a Group of 5 team to reach the CFP -- and maybe the combined probability of results needed by the 13th-ranked Memphis Tigers would indeed qualify for minor miracle status. But when you look at each of those results individually, the possibility of Memphis playing in a national semifinal doesn't seem utterly ridiculous. Not utterly.