The initial College Football Playoff rankings have been revealed and bring with it many questions and surprises
With only four weeks remaining in the 2023 college football regular season, the postseason picture should be getting a bit more clear. However, there is anything but clarity, as it truly feels like there are more teams than ever that have a possible path to the Playoff.
This initial Top 25 tells teams, fans and experts where each team stands. Teams near the top will likely just have to win and they’re in. However, teams outside the top four may need more than just wins, they might have to rely on teams ahead of them to lose.
It’s important to remember that this is just the first set of rankings with a few more to come out in the following weeks. For the time being, here’s how the Playoff field looks.
Air Force is having an impressive season but finds itself just on the right side of the cusp in the Top 25. This team could easily be ranked higher than just No. 25.
Tulane continues to represent Group of Five programs well in the national rankings. With a few weeks left, they’ll look to not just hold onto a spot in the Top 25, but to improve as well.
The defending Big 12 champions aren’t out of the running for the conference, but they have a very steep uphill climb when it comes to overall rankings.
The Big 12 is going through an interesting transition phase, which leads to many teams being ranked, but no undefeated teams remain. Oklahoma State finds its way into the Top 25.
Kansas took down the last remaining undefeated team in the Big 12 last week when the Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma. The team looks to finish the season strong, despite no true post season being in the cards.
Expectations were high heading into this season for the Trojans. Instead, the Caleb Williams-led USC team has not looked very dominant. The College Football Playoff hopes are long gone.
The Bruins have held their own in the final season for the PAC-12, which strangely enough has turned out to be the conference’s strongest year in quite some time. UCLA doesn’t fall within the elite tier of the west coast teams, but they are still respectable.
The Utes are a quality team that always appear to be in the mix to take the PAC-12 and possibly make a run at the College Football Playoff. This season has come with ups and downs, but Utah still finds itself ranked.
The Vols had a strong 2022 season that was headlined by a win over Alabama. This season, however, Tennessee has multiple losses with one of them being to the Crimson Tide. This time last year, the Vols were ranked No. 1 in the initial CFP ranking.
Oregon State made headlines this offseason for being one of two PAC-12 teams unable to find a new home as the rest of the conference flocked to either the Big Ten or the Big 12. As a form of retaliation, the Beavers have played very well and are reasonably ranked.
The only other team rivaling Notre Dame as the best multi-loss team in the country is LSU. The Tigers started the season off with a loss to Florida State and then eventually lost a thriller to a very strong Ole Miss team.
The ACC is having an interesting season, as Clemson currently has four losses, Georgia Tech is respectable and Louisville is having a very strong year. The Cardinals won’t complain as they look to improve their stance in the rankings over the next few weeks.
The only team in the SEC East that could potentially rival Georgia? Missouri. This team has one loss on the season but managed to bounce back strong. this team will travel to Athens with a chip on its shoulder.
Penn State is just outside the Top 10 and some might think this is still generous to the Nittany Lions. In what feels like an endless loop, the team stated off very strong, but suffered an ugly loss to Ohio State and is not expected to recover in the rankings from it.
The Rebels’ only loss on the year was against the Crimson Tide. This Lane Kiffin-led team has silently worked its way into the Top 10 of the initial College Football Playoff rankings.
All the Sooner had to do was continue to win and they would have been a near lock for the CFP. Instead, Oklahoma fell on the road to Kansas and they are now on the fringe of not being in the thick of the playoff race.
The Crimson Tide has been fighting an uphill battle ever since the Week 2 loss to Texas. However, the Crimson Tide has visibly improved on both sides of the ball and seems to get better every week. As many fans fear, they are legitimate contenders for the playoffs.
Texas couldn’t get the win against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry and they suffered the consequences. Consistent winning and the Sooners losing ultimately led to the Longhorns being ranked No. 7.
Oregon lost to Washington a few weeks ago, but fans all across the country are hoping for a rematch. The Ducks have a clear path to the playoffs, they just have to win out and take the conference.
The Huskies are believed by many to be the most beatable undefeated team. Though Washington has struggled at times, they have moments where they truly look like national title contenders. If this offense keeps playing like it has been, they will be in the CFP.
Are the Seminoles back? Many are asking, but few have the answer. Jordan Travis is a great quarterback and Florida State has easily run the ACC this season (ignore the Boston College game). I don’t see a scenario in which FSU doesn’t win out, become ACC champions and then earn a spot in the top four in the final CFP rankings.
Michigan is all over the headlines right now and they will continue to be over the next few weeks as this team will face a gauntlet of teams that want nothing more than to take down the Wolverines.
Though Georgia is No. 1 in other rankings, the College Football Playoff Committee has the Dawgs at No. 2, which doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise. After dominating Florida, the back-to-back national champions will have to face three ranked teams: Missouri, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
The Buckeyes are the top-ranked team in the nation, according to the CFP Committee. While many would agree this is where they belong, this may not be where they rank in the final playoff rankings. As previously stated, the initial CFP ranking of 2022 had Tennessee at No. 1, and the Vols ended up missing the top four all together by the end of the season.