Clemson is in.
That's the first takeaway from Tuesday night's release of the first College Football Playoff rankings. The second, the Tigers are solidly in at No. 3.
Despite suffering a loss in their last game and not playing at Florida State on Saturday because of a controversial decision, the CFP committee thinks quite highly of Dabo Swinney's team.
The Tigers (7-1) join No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame and No, 4 Ohio State in the first four. CFP committee chairman and Iowa athletic director Gary Barta called Clemson's win over Miami "solid" and he said the committee thought the Tigers "deserved" their spot.
With 26 days until we learn the actual final four teams in, there are several notable reactions to the initial top-25.
- The Tigers getting one of the four spots isn't a huge surprise, considering their lone loss at Notre Dame came without Trevor Lawrence and several key starters on defense. This is still the preseason No. 1, and while the committee doesn't take preseason polls into account, it's hard to deny that this isn't one of the most talented teams in the country.
- Clemson will look to become the first team since the CFP started in 2014 to make the final four after starting in third in the first ranking.
- It appears that the Buckeyes haven't looked as impressive in four games as Clemson has in double that amount. Ohio State doesn't have a loss, but it looked pedestrian on defense against Indiana last week while the Tigers aren't being penalized nearly as much for their loss as they might have in some seasons.
- Things can certainly change for Clemson if Ohio State continues to win and looks more like the dominant team many pundits assumed we'd see this year, but they have to fix their secondary.
- Things might not change for Ohio State if Clemson looks like a dominant team down the stretch with Lawrence back at the helm and injured players return to make huge impacts.
- The ACC Championship, as it appears right now, is going to be the greatest in league history. Two top-4 teams meeting in Charlotte with a guaranteed trip to the CFP on the line is what commissioner John Swofford envisioned with his swan song.
- There are enough teams on the outside looking in and vying for one of the four spots that Clemson obviously can't suffer another loss and expect a bid.
- The ACC bringing Notre Dame into the mix for just one season is paying off in a big way. The league has a chance to get both the Irish and the Tigers into the CFP, and Miami at No. 10 is helping Clemson's resume.
- Meanwhile, UNC at No. 19 will help give Notre Dame a boost if it's able to win Friday's showdown with the Tar Heels, and it gives the ACC four teams in the top-25, which ties the Big 12 for second-most.
- Georgia, with two losses, ranked ninth while BYU ranked 14th is criminal. The Bulldogs lost to two teams in the top-6 and the Cougars haven't beaten a team in the first ranking, but the eye test should've won out over the metrics. Georgia isn't playing for anything, and BYU deserves to be recognized for its dominance.
- The committee threw the Pac-12 a bone with Oregon at No. 15, and the Ducks will closely watch the teams around them in the next few weeks. It's still hard to think this league gets one of the four bids.
- Oklahoma at No. 11 is intriguing and shows the respect the committee has for Lincoln Riley after putting his team in the CFP the last three consecutive seasons. This year, the Sooners are going to need too much help to return, but they are playing their best ball of the season right now.
- Florida has a great chance at No. 6 to blow this thing up. If the Gators can run the table and knock off Alabama in the SEC title game, that league could get two teams in and throw the rest of the field into disarray.
- No. 5 Texas A&M appears to be ranked in a great spot, but the Aggies are sort of in no man's land. They beat UF and lost to Alabama. The Crimson Tide would need two regular-season losses to get the Aggies into the SEC title game. The only other shot at getting in involves tons of help from the ACC and Big Ten that force the committee into a tough decision.
- Cincinnati at No. 7 feels fine, but it would've been cooler if the committee had lofted the undefeated Bearcats above both SEC teams, or even into the first four instead of Ohio State. It's a pipe dream but that is one heck of a good football team.