What we learned from first College Football Playoff rankings

·5 min read

The College Football Playoff rankings were revealed on Tuesday.

The rankings confused a lot of people and left us with more questions than answers.

Here’s a quick rundown of the rankings:

Like I said, more questions than answers. But here are a few things we learned from the initial rankings.

Head-to-head matters

Oregon RB CJ Verdell runs past Ohio State S Bryson Shaw (17) and CB Cameron Brown (26) for a 77-yard touchdown. Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch

Clearly the committee puts a lot of emphasis on head-to-head results, as seen by Oregon (#4) and Ohio State’s (#5) rankings.

The Ducks beat the Buckeyes both have the same record (7-1), but Oregon beat Ohio State back in Week 2 of the season.

Since that game, Ohio State has been the far more impressive team, blowing out opponents and ranking No. 1 in total offense. Oregon has not looked great since and even lost to Stanford along the way.

But the Ducks beat the Buckeyes, and the committee considers that enough.

No love for the Group of Five

Sep 4, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; UTSA Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris (0) hands the ball to UTSA Roadrunners running back Sincere McCormick (3) during Saturday’s first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati at No. 6. Ouch.

I don’t disagree one bit, but I know a lot of people do. The committee showed a blatant lack of respect for Group of Five teams on Tuesday when it put the undefeated Bearcats at No. 6.

And look at Coastal Carolina (7-1) and UTSA (8-0). Those two teams are nowhere to be found in the initial rankings released by the committee.

Just being undefeated is not good enough

Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams (13) drops back to pass vs Texas Tech. Syndication: The Oklahoman

The top-five features only two undefeated teams — Georgia and Michigan State.

There are six undefeateds remaining in college football this year (Georgia, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Wake Forest and UTSA).

Here’s how they rank:

1. Georgia

3. Michigan State

6. Cincinnati

8. Oklahoma

9. Wake Forest

Unranked: UTSA

Sure, Oklahoma has struggled against weaker teams, but it has not lost a game. There needs to be some sort of reward for being undefeated. And it’s not like the Sooners are playing in some no-name conference….it’s the BIG 12…No. 8 is far too low for a 9-0 Oklahoma team.

Alabama being ranked No. 2 tells us everything we need to know

Oct 16, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Jordan Battle (9) and defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) react after defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

What else is there to say? The committee LOVES Alabama this year. Even though this is not the same Alabama team we’re used to and even though it has one loss, the Tide still ranked No. 2 in the initial rankings.

I really have no words for how mind-boggling this decision was. They lost to Texas A&M, struggled against Florida, did not look great against Tennessee and have been far from their usual dominant self. Meanwhile, Michigan State is undefeated and has that signature win against Michigan yet ranks below Alabama. Oklahoma is 9-0 in the BIG 12 and ranks six spots below Alabama.

Alabama has one win over a ranked team. This makes no sense to me.

Michigan State at Ohio State on Nov. 20 is the biggest remaining game of the year

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Jerron Cage (86) returns a fumble 58 yards for a touchdown during the second quarter of the NCAA football game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch

On November 20, #3 Michigan State will travel to #5 Ohio State for a massive game in the Big Ten.

Assuming no team loses before that game, that’s a matchup that should decide who plays in the conference title game. Whoever makes it from West division will likely not put up much of a fight…so essentially it’s a College Football Playoff play-in game. You can only imagine that if Ohio State wins, it would have to jump Oregon and move to the No. 4 spot despite the head-to-head results, right?

Biggest question: What happens if Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC Championship Game?

ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 01: The Alabama Crimson Tide defense breaks up a hail mary pass attempt in the fourth quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2018 SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

If Georgia beats Alabama in Atlanta, what happens to the Tide? Do they still make the CFP? I would have to say there’s no way the committee lets a two loss Bama team in, but I also thought there was no they’d rank them at No. 2.

I just don’t know what to think.

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