The first set of College Football Playoff rankings was unveiled Tuesday. Cue the outrage, right?
There’s still a long way until that final set of College Football Playoff rankings on Dec. 3, but that won’t stop the arguments after Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson took the top four spots heading into Week 10. Things will play out on the field, but the playoff committee dropped some not-so-subtle clues about how it might play out the next month.
Here are five overreactions from the first set of rankings:
1. Two-team SEC playoff is real
Whether putting Georgia (8-0) in the No. 1 spot ahead of No. 2 Alabama (8-0) was done for television purposes is debatable at best. The Crimson Tide would be favored if the SEC championship game was this week. The 1-2 punch, however, is going to fire up the latest round of #SECBias. It’s clear if these teams win out and play a close one in Atlanta, the chance both end up in the College Football Playoff is high. We’re good with that for now.
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2. So that’s what 3-6 looks like?
Sporting News took a poll Tuesday afternoon asking which team would be left out of the top four among Notre Dame (7-1), Clemson (7-1), Oklahoma (7-1) and Ohio State (7-1).
Which team WILL NOT be in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings tonight?
— Bill Bender (@BillBender92) October 31, 2017
The Sooners received the most votes, and the Buckeyes the fewest. Those two teams are out, however, and the Irish (7-1) and Tigers (7-1) are in. As long as those teams keep winning, then the arguments are going to get more vicious by the week. At the outset, the committee is honoring Notre Dame’s schedule, Clemson’s victories against Auburn and Virginia Tech and the Sooners’ head-to-head victory against Ohio State. Is the Big Ten in trouble? Not yet, but it’s a concern.
3. Penn State better run it up
Those first six teams control their own destiny. It’s more complicated for the No. 7 Nittany Lions (7-1), whose 39-38 loss to Ohio State likely keeps them out of the Big Ten championship game. How can Penn State keep the committee’s attention? Running it up against Michigan State this week would be a start, but Penn State’s final three games against Rutgers, Nebraska and Maryland might not grab enough attention. The Nittany Lions do not have that marquee nonconference victory that Ohio State had last season, and that will be a difference-maker in November without a little help.
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4. Wisconsin and Miami better win out
Wisconsin and Miami fans are likely outraged given they are the other two remaining unbeaten teams in the Power 5 conference and sit at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively. But this is hardly unexpected. The Badgers have played a weak schedule, and the Hurricanes continue to win close games. What’s the solution? Win out. Just win out.
Wisconsin still has Michigan and another chance against a Big Ten East powerhouse if it gets back to Indianapolis. Miami plays Virginia Tech and Notre Dame the next two weeks. Do you believe the committee would turn away these teams if they went 13-0?
We say no way, but 12-1 is a different story given where they start.
5. Auburn has a pulse
Auburn (6-2) is the highest-ranked two-loss team at No. 14, behind the one-loss crowd of Oklahoma State (7-1) and Virginia Tech (7-1) and one spot ahead of two-loss Iowa State (6-2). That’s probably the cut off of teams that could actually make the College Football Playoff, given no two-loss team has made it before.
The Tigers, however, have a few built-in advantages. If Alabama beats LSU and Auburn wins out against a schedule that includes Georgia and the Crimson Tide, then the Tigers would go to Atlanta as the SEC West champions.
Nobody else in the hunt has a chance to beat No. 1 and No. 2 in the regular season. Auburn would be given some leniency for the early-season loss to Clemson, too. It’s an almost-impossible scenario, but Auburn has been down that road before.