The SEC rules the top of this season’s first College Football Playoff rankings, but perhaps not in the way most would think.
With both teams currently on a collision course for the SEC title game, the Dec. 2 game in Atlanta could serve sort of as a playoff game for the CFP.
Following the SEC titans are six teams sitting at 7-1, led by Notre Dame at No. 3. The Fighting Irish’s lone loss came at home to newly minted No. 1 Georgia. Should the standings hold as they are, Notre Dame could potentially leapfrog Georgia, were the Bulldogs to lose to the Crimson Tide in the SEC title game.
“I felt like if we continued to win football games, we would create our own story at the end of the year,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told ESPN.
The fourth-ranked team is Clemson. At 7-1, the defending champions have flown a bit under the radar, but clearly the committee did not penalize the Tigers for a shocking road loss to Syracuse that featured Clemson losing starting quarterback Kelly Bryant to injury.
Oklahoma plants its flag behind Clemson at No. 5. It appears the CFP committee agreed with Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield, who said Monday he believes his team, which beat Ohio State in Columbus earlier this year, deserved to be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes, since both have the same 7-1 record.
Those same Buckeyes have a good look at the Sooners’ taillights as they land at No. 6, one spot ahead of the Penn State team they beat in Saturday afternoon’s thriller.
“For the teams five through seven, their head-to-head results were very important to the committee,” CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said.
The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are the highest-ranked teams from the Big Ten, while undefeated Wisconsin is ranked ninth in the CFP. The Badgers lack a signature win and have no CFP-ranked teams remaining on their schedule, but an undefeated run to the Big Ten title game and a showdown against potential East Division winner Ohio State or Penn State could vault Wisconsin into the top four.
Stuck in between the rush of Big Ten schools is TCU. The Horned Frogs picked a rough week to drop their first game of the season, as the previously unbeaten team’s high-flying offense was grounded by a surging Iowa State team. With surprise wins over Oklahoma and TCU, the Cyclones find themselves ranked 15th in the CFP.
The Miami Hurricanes (7-0) round out the CFP top 10. While many have claimed “The U is back,” the Canes still have work to do, but a Nov. 11 home game against Notre Dame would go a long way in silencing any doubters.
Georgia opens at No. 1 in CFP, ahead of Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson – ESPN