The 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee reminded everyone in its first ranking that last year is irrelevant.
Defending national champs?
Say hello to the bubble, as No. 5 Clemson is behind two Big Ten teams and two SEC teams.
No. 1 Ohio State earned the top spot, followed by No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Penn State. It’s clear the eye test matters to this group, as the Buckeyes’ sheer dominance outweighed LSU’s resume, which includes wins against Texas, No. 10 Florida and No. 11 Auburn. Texas was not ranked by the committee, which could be a problem for No. 9 Oklahoma. The one-loss Sooners aren’t out of it, but clearly need some help. (Of course, with LSU and Alabama facing off this weekend, and Ohio State and Penn State squaring off later in the season, these rankings should change in a hurry.)
Georgia earned the No. 6 spot ahead of No. 7 Oregon as the committee’s top one-loss team, and the Bulldogs’ best wins were against No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 10 Florida. No other Pac-12 teams were ranked besides No. 7 Oregon and No. 8 Utah.
Undefeated Baylor was ranked No. 12 behind two-loss Auburn, while undefeated Minnesota was No. 17. No. 20 Cincinnati was the highest-ranked Group of 5 team, which also adds to No. 1 Ohio State’s resume, but it’s a crowded race for a New Year’s Six spot. No. 21 Memphis, No. 22 Boise State, No. 24 Navy and No. 25 SMU are all in the mix.
Here’s how the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six games would look if they were played today:
No. 1 Ohio State would face No. 4 Penn State in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, while No. 2 LSU would face No. 3 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The selection committee doesn’t want to put the No. 1 team at any geographic disadvantage, so Ohio State would get to go to Atlanta, which is closer to home. The committee also doesn’t worry about rematches in the semifinals.
Because the Big Ten champion and its second-highest ranked team are both in the semifinals, No. 13 Wisconsin would go to the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, where it would face No. 7 Oregon because the Rose Bowl is also guaranteed the Pac-12 champion if it’s not in a semifinal.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl, which is guaranteed an SEC team against a Big 12 team, would take No. 6 Georgia against No. 9 Oklahoma, as they are both the highest-ranked teams available from each conference. The Capital One Orange Bowl is guaranteed the ACC champion, which would be No. 5 Clemson in this case, against a team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. In this case, Clemson would face No. 10 Florida, as it’s the highest-ranked team available.
The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic would feature No. 8 Utah against No. 20 Cincinnati, which is guaranteed a spot as the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion.
(All games can be seen on ESPN and the ESPN App)
Saturday, Dec. 28
Noon ET: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 8 Utah vs. No. 20 Cincinnati (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
4 or 8 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Penn State (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
4 or 8 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Alabama (State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona)
Monday, Dec. 30
8 p.m. ET: Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 10 Florida (Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida)
Wednesday, Jan. 1
5 p.m. ET: Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 13 Wisconsin (Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California)
8:45 p.m. ET: Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans)