College Football: 5 thoughts on initial CFP rankings
There has not yet been chaos in the three years of the College Football Playoff. Maybe this is the year.
The first rankings from the selection committee—released Tuesday night—always invite imagination because so many permutations remain well within the world of possibilities. And then reality sorts it all out.
But consider this season's wild cards: A top-heavy SEC and Notre Dame.
Two SEC teams—No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama—are at the top of the rankings with the Fighting Irish sitting in third. Using not-far-fetched imagination, the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide win out in the regular season, with the loser of the ensuing SEC title game still making the four-team playoff. Notre Dame will be a lock if it wins out against a challenging schedule (Wake Forest, at Miami, Navy, at Stanford).
Which means only one playoff spot would be available for the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12.
Until then ... here are five other thoughts on the initial CFP rankings:
1. Georgia at No. 1 is the right call. Each week of the season is a process of replacing what you thought you knew in the preseason with actual results to put on a resume. The unbeaten Bulldogs have the marquee victory—at Notre Dame—that Alabama thought it was getting when it beat Florida State, last seen heading over a cliff.
Two-thirds of the way into the season, the resume matters more than what most people think ... so your opinion that Alabama is the best team in the country doesn't fly here.
2. Play somebody. Wisconsin and Miami, both undefeated but neither dominant, sit at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, behind six teams with one loss. Those six all have the kind of signature victory—often in nonconference play—that the Badgers and Hurricanes lack.
That's going to change for Miami (Virginia Tech, then Notre Dame), but Wisconsin has to pin its hope on Michigan being good when the Wolverines go to Camp Randall Stadium on Nov. 18.
3. The Pac-12 is toast. Washington, at No. 12, is the highest-ranked team from the Pac-12—and is probably overrated at that, given its cushy nonconference slate and a bad loss at Arizona State. The Huskies (7-1) have regular-season games left against Stanford and Washington State—and the conference title game—but all that doesn't figure to move the needle enough to get into the final four, unless there is absolute nuttiness among the other conferences.
4. Auburn can make a run. The 6-2 Tigers are the highest-ranked of the two-loss teams at No. 14. They play No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama at home in November, which presumably leads to another opportunity to beat the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game. In that scenario, an 11-2 Auburn team—with tight losses to Clemson and LSU—has to be in the playoff.
5. Nick Saban loves it. He's been railing against the "rat poison" of the polls and all the hype. Now, Georgia has to deal with that No. 1 poison; be sure to not swallow it.