The first 2017 College Football Playoff rankings are out. If the season ended today, the playoff field would consist of 1) Georgia, 2) Alabama, 3) Notre Dame and 4) Clemson. Then, 5) Oklahoma, 6) Ohio State and 7) Penn State make up the first set of teams on the outside looking in.
This is the fourth season of the College Football Playoff, and like the previous three season's first rankings, at least two SEC teams are in the top four. We point that out not for rah rah S-E-C reasons but mostly to show that these initial rankings don't mean as much as we make them out to be, since the SEC hasn't sent more than one team (always Alabama) to the three previous playoffs.
So what did we learn from these first rankings?
The committee values head-to-head very much
Going into tonight's announcement we thought Ohio State would be ahead of Oklahoma. We were wrong. The playoff committee looked at OU's Week 2 thumping of the Buckeyes in Columbus and chose that data point to determine its order.
The Sooners' remaining schedule includes quality matchups against fellow CFP Top 25 teams in No. 11 Oklahoma State this weekend and No. 8 TCU the week after. Meanwhile, Ohio State only has No. 24 Michigan State left in the quality opponents bucket later this season. If both schools win out, including their respective conference championship games, Oklahoma will definitely be ahead of Ohio State and in position to reach the playoff if one or more of the current top four falter.
Alabama has been No. 1 in every poll and has been there all year long. The Tide are throttling opponents by more than 30 points per game. And if you've watched any of their games you know they look leaps and bounds better than everyone else. So why is Alabama behind Georgia?
Georgia has played a tougher schedule so far with wins over No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 16 Mississippi State. Bama's résumé doesn't compare. Well, not yet. The Tide still have quality games left against No. 19 LSU, Mississippi State and No. 14 Auburn. Georgia only has Auburn left as a résumé builder as it finishes out its SEC schedule. Which is all to say that if both of these teams finish the regular season undefeated chances are more likely than not Bama will be No. 1 going into the SEC title game.
So keep rolling that damn tide, y'all.
The Pac-12 is NOT making the playoff
Thanks to a number of upsets led by the Arizona schools and preseason darling USC suffering two early losses, it sure looks like the Pac-12 is a virtual lock to miss the playoff. The conference's best bet is No. 11 Washington, but the Huskies would need A LOT of help even if they were to win out.
Barring the combined chaos of the Big 12 and ACC eating themselves apart, a left coast school will not get the privilege of being the SEC champ's sacrificial lamb this season.
UCF, you'll always be a second-class citizen
Look, we love UCF. The Knights' offense is awesome. Advanced stats love this team. And head coach Scott Frost is the man. But if you're at No. 18 in the original rankings with FOUR two-loss, Power-5 teams ahead of you there's just absolutely no way you're ending up in the top four. [Insert sad emoji]
The full first edition of this year's College Football Playoff rankings are as follows:
1. Georgia (8-0)
2. Alabama (8-0)
3. Notre Dame (7-1)
4. Clemson (7-1)
5. Oklahoma (7-1)
6. Ohio State (7-1)
7. Penn State (7-1)
8. TCU (7-1)
9. Wisconsin (8-0)
10. Miami (7-0)
11. Oklahoma State (7-1)
12. Washington (7-1)
13. Virginia Tech (7-1)
14. Auburn (6-2)
15. Iowa State (6-2)
16. Mississippi State (6-2)
17. USC (7-2)
18. UCF (7-0)
19. LSU (6-2)
20. NC State (6-2)
21. Stanford (6-2)
22. Arizona (6-2)
23. Memphis (7-1)
24. Michigan State (6-2)
25. Washington State (7-2)