Random thoughts on the first set of rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee released Tuesday night. New rankings will be released each Tuesday until the final set of rankings, which will set the four-team field for the CFP, are released on Sunday, Dec 20.
**--For those upset that your team didn’t make the top four, remember that since the CFP began in 2014, the first four teams in the initial rankings have never all made it to the final four. There are four more Saturdays in the regular season.
**--Four of the top nine in the rankings are from the SEC: No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 6 Florida and No. 9 Georgia. At 5-2, Georgia was a bit of a surprise but the Bulldogs’ two losses have been to No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Florida. With Auburn (5-2) at No. 22 the SEC has five of the Top 25.
**--Alabama was No. 1 in the CFP rankings for the 19th time. No other team is even close. But in the past five years no team ranked No. 1 in the initial CFP rankings has gone on to win the national championship. If Alabama makes the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, Coach Nick Saban would be going for a record seventh national championship.
**--Notre Dame (8-0) is No. 2 and has a clear path to the playoffs if it wins out. But the Fighting Irish have a dangerous game at North Carolina on Friday and will very likely have a rematch with No. 3 Clemson in the ACC championship game.
**--Probably the biggest surprise Tuesday night was 9-0 BYU at No. 14. Selection committee chairman Gary Barta, the athletics director at Iowa, told ESPN that BYU’s schedule was the key reason the Cougars were ranked so low. BYU’s schedule was decimated when the Pac-10, the Big Ten, and the SEC went to conference games only. BYU’s original schedule included Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota, and Missouri. The current schedule does not have a Power Five team.
BYU does not play again until Dec. 12 (San Diego State) and is looking for another game on Dec. 5 for Dec. 19. There were discussions about BYU playing Washington of the Pac-12 this week but no deal was struck.
**--Cincinnati (8-0) was the highest ranked Group of Five team at No. 7. If the Bearcats stay in that position they will get an invitation to a New Year’s Six Bowl. Is there a way for Cincinnati to get into position to make the playoffs? The Bearcats, who could finish 11-0, would need for teams ahead of them like Clemson, Florida, and Texas A&M to finish with two losses.
**--Texas A&M (5-1) was No. 5 and Florida (6-1) was No. 6 based on the Aggies’ 41-38 win over the Gators on Oct. 10 at College Station. Florida will have a chance to jump over Texas A&M if the Gators win out and beat Alabama in the SEC championship game. Texas A&M’s best chance at the playoffs would be for Alabama to beat Florida in the SEC championship game and for Clemson to lose to Notre Dame in the ACC championship game.
**--Clemson (7-1) was ranked No. 3 ahead of Ohio State (4-0) because the Tigers have played four more games, have a 42-17 win over No. 10 Miami, and the fact that its 47-40 loss at Notre Dame was without starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
**--Northwestern (5-0) was a little bit of a surprise at No. 8 as the Wildcats beat No. 16 Wisconsin last Saturday. The Wildcats will be a solid favorite in their final three regular-season games and appear destined to meet No. 4 Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.
TOP 10 CFP RANKINGS
With games remaining
1—Alabama (7-0): Saturday vs. Auburn; Dec. 5 at LSU; Dec. 12 at Arkansas; Dec. 19 SEC Championship game.
2—Notre Dame (8-0): Friday at North Carolina; Dec 5 vs. Syracuse, Dec. 12 at Wake Forest
3—Clemson (7-1): Saturday vs. Pitt; Dec. 5 vs. at Virginia Tech; at Florida State Dec. 12
4—Ohio State (4-0): Saturday at Illinois, Dec. 5 at Michigan State, Dec. 12 vs. Michigan; Dec. 19 TBD (Big Ten champ game)
5—Texas A&M (5-1): Saturday vs. LSU; Dec. 5 at Auburn; Dec. 12 vs. Ole Miss; Dec. 19 at Tennessee.
6—Florida (6-1): Saturday vs. Kentucky; Dec. 5 at Tennessee; Dec. 12 vs. LSU; Dec. 19 SEC championship game
7—Cincinnati (8-0): Saturday at Temple; Dec. 4 at Tulsa; Dec. 19 AAC championship game
8—Northwestern (5-0): Saturday at Michigan State; Dec. 5 at Minnesota; Dec. 12 vs. Illinois; Dec. 19 TBD (Big Ten championship game)
9—Georgia (5-2): Saturday at South Carolina; Dec. 5 vs. Vanderbilt; Dec. 12 at Missouri.
10—Miami (7-1): Dec. 5 at Wake Forest; Dec. 12 vs. North Carolina; Dec. 19 vs. Georgia Tech