What to Expect From the First College Football Playoff Rankings

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The college football season has already given us plenty of exciting moments, surprises, and upsets. And on Tuesday night, it gives us another thing to freak out about: the first College Football Playoff rankings. The committee’s first set of rankings are likely to feature LSU, Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson in the top four. We’ll even go as far as saying they will most likely be ranked in that exact order, too. (We’ll quickly have to reconfigure things a bit after Saturday’s epic clash between LSU and Bama.)

Here are a couple other things to keep an eye on during the committee’s big reveal.

The One-Loss Pecking Order

Undefeated Penn State appears prime to start its 2019 CFP rankings life at No. 5, while fellow Power 5 unbeatens Baylor and Minnesota will be a bit further down. In between them, expect a number of one-loss teams to be sitting there waiting to make moves into the top four should enough teams in front of them lose. (Two-loss Florida and Auburn will probably also be ranked higher than Baylor and Minnesota.)

LossAP Top 25 Wins

Georgia

South Carolina

Notre Dame, Florida

Oregon

Auburn

None

Utah

USC

None

Oklahoma

Kansas State

None

As the breakdown above shows, Georgia is most deserving of that No. 6 ranking, while the other three are battling it out for who’s had the least embarrassing loss. Unlike Georgia, which controls its own destiny if it wins out and finishes atop the SEC, Oregon, Utah and Oklahoma need to win out and some help to reach the final four.

(We’re not intentionally ignoring 7–1 Wake Forest among the one-loss group, but the Deacons have to upset Clemson in two weeks and win the ACC to even enter the discussion; and they’d still find themselves behind some of the teams above anyway.)

Pac-12/Big 12 vs. Clemson

What if Clemson falls or the committee starts ranking teams ahead of it because of its relatively weak ACC schedule?

Barring something ridiculous happening, the SEC and Big Ten will each send at least one team to the playoff, with the other having a decent shot at landing a second team in the final rankings. So the Pac-12 and Big 12, or more specifically Oregon, Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor, most likely need Clemson to lose at some point to have a good shot at moving into the top four. All four could also really benefit from their lower-rung conference foes eventually making their way into the committee’s top 25.