Our Five: Surprises from the first set of College Football Playoff rankings

The first College Football Playoff rankings are out. And there are a few surprises. Here are five of the biggest surprises from Tuesday night’s rankings. These surprises below may give us a template for how the committee will evaluate teams for the rest of the season.

Previously on Our Five: Best players not to win the Heisman, underrated teams, disappointing teams, coaches on the hot seat, biggest upsets, surprise undefeated teams, turnover celebrations, traditions

5. No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Notre Dame: With the Irish undefeated along with Clemson and Alabama it seemed reasonable to believe that Notre Dame would join the Tigers and Tide in the top three. Alas, LSU got the No. 3 spot instead of Notre Dame.

“When you look at [Notre Dame] against LSU, though, LSU is the only team in the country with six wins against teams above .500,” committee chair Rob Mullens said. “That includes wins over No. 6 Georgia, a ranked Mississippi State team, and their only loss is a road loss, close road loss at Florida.”

Notre Dame has three wins against teams with winning records and beat Stanford handily at home. Another of those wins is over No. 5 Michigan. And the Irish haven’t lost. LSU has. There’s a good case to be made that Notre Dame should be ahead of LSU. But at the same time this is a debate that may only go on until Saturday when LSU plays Alabama.

4. No. 9 Kentucky: The Wildcats all the way up in the top 10? Kentucky has a top-10 defense. The offense is sometimes bottom 10. UK plays No. 6 Georgia on Saturday and a win would make Kentucky a top-10 team. But right now? That’s debatable in our eyes.

“Quality wins at Florida and then a win over Mississippi State, both ranked teams, and Kentucky has an outstanding defense,” Mullens said. “They’ve found a way to win, and their only loss is to a CFP-ranked team in overtime. Kentucky has a quality résumé.”

“Found a way to win” is key. Kentucky has barely beaten Vanderbilt and Missouri.

3. No. 24 Iowa State: The only team one game above .500 in the top 25 is from the Big 12 and had a game canceled at the beginning of the season. The Cyclones, at 4-3, have wins over Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas Tech and head into Lawrence, Kansas, on Saturday on a three-game winning streak.

ISU’s losses have come to Iowa, Oklahoma and TCU. The first two are excusable. That TCU loss really isn’t, especially with the way the Horned Frogs have fallen apart over the month of October. Iowa State may end up with eight or nine wins. But there are some deserving teams like Utah State (and another team we’ll get to) that should have been in the top 25.

2. No. 12 UCF: The Knights should be higher. What’s the argument for Ohio State ahead of UCF right now? What’s the argument for Kentucky ahead of UCF right now? It’s also important to note that UCF has been without QB McKenzie Milton recently. Yeah, an easy schedule allows the Knights to play it safe with Milton, but the team is good enough that it can do that and still win.

As Pete Thamel noted Tuesday night, UCF is starting five spots higher than it did in 2017. But its playoff hopes are still slim.

1. Unranked Houston: Where in the world are the Cougars? Houston is 7-1 and its only loss came in Week 3 against Texas Tech. Houston’s schedule isn’t the greatest; its only victory over a winning team came in Saturday’s shellacking of previously undefeated South Florida. But the Cougars are averaging nearly 50 points per game and D’Eriq King is emerging as a legitimate Heisman sleeper. Is it better to beat bad teams than lose to good ones? We’d argue the former. The committee certainly leans more toward the latter.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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