Analyzing first College Football Playoff rankings

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

At the top spot of the rankings was the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes went into the rankings with an 8-0 record. This includes wins over two top 25 teams, Michigan State and Wisconsin. This is the first time that the Buckeyes have been ranked No. 1 in the CFP era and are looking to return to the CFP for the first time since 2017.

Coming in at no. 2 in the rankings was the LSU Tigers. The Tigers were also 8-0 going into the rankings, with big wins over Texas, Florida and Auburn. All of those wins were over the top 10 teams at the time. All season long, the Tigers have been climbing the rankings after each major victory. That hard work has paid off as they vault past their rival Alabama.

No. 3 in the rankings was the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide, who haven’t been ranked less than no. 2 in the rankings this year and haven’t been ranked below two over the past couple of seasons, was also undefeated going into the CFP rankings. The biggest reason that they come in so low in the rankings is because they only have one quality win over fellow SEC opponent Texas A&M who was ranked No. 24 at the time.

The fourth team that is currently in the final four for the CFP rankings are the Penn State Nittany Lions. This is the second Big Ten team that managed to sneak its way into the initial rankings after the conference didn’t have anybody in the final four the previous two years. Just like the rest of the field, the Nittany Lions are undefeated and have some impressive wins under their belt. These wins include wins over Iowa and Michigan.

The fifth and sixth spots include some teams that many people feel got snubbed in the rankings. The spot currently belongs to the Clemson Tigers. Clemson is undefeated and only has one major win against Texas A&M, who was ranked No. 12 at the time. The sixth spot belongs to the Georgia Bulldogs, who have one loss to South Carolina. While that one loss really hurts their chances at cracking into the top four, they do have major wins against Notre Dame and Florida. These two wins are helping to keep the Bulldogs hopes alive.

Overall, I believe that these rankings are pretty fair and accurate. If you use the eye-test on the top four teams, everything seems right. Ohio State has been the most dominant team out on the field this season, racking up blow-out wins against every team they go against, including wins over top 25 teams. They are led by a Heisman candidate who, if it weren’t for Joe Burrow, would be leading the pack. If you take a look at LSU, they keep looking better each and every week. With Burrow just picking apart opposing defenses week after week, the Tigers not only have momentum but also swagger. This swagger is different than the usual LSU swagger from years past. This type of swagger has been missing from LSU since Nick Saban left Baton Rouge. However, their biggest test of the season is this upcoming weekend when they go on the road to play Alabama. This game will not only make a big difference in the national rankings but also in the SEC. The winner of this game looks to have a fairly clear path to the CFP, but they first have to survive this weekend.

Talking about Alabama, this team hasn’t looked like the Alabama teams in the past. Sure, they look good. But, they don’t necessarily seem dominant like they have over the last couple of seasons. This could be because Tagovailoa has been injured, but even with Tagovailoa playing, the Crimson Tide have looked mortal. A win this weekend would help change that. Penn State making the top four makes sense. They go into each game with the mentality that this could be the opening game of the season. They go out onto the field and take care of business. And while it’s a nice confidence booster for the team, it most likely won’t last for too long. Even if the Nittany Lions take care of the Minnesota Gophers this weekend, they have to take on the top dogs, Ohio State, on Nov. 23. While they could win that game, it doesn’t seem possible with just how good the Buckeyes have been playing.

Now if we take a look at Clemson, at first it might not seem possible that the defending national champions, who are undefeated, are not ranked in the top four. But, if you look beyond the surface and past their record, Clemson hasn’t looked very good. Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback who took the CFP by storm last season as a true freshman, hasn’t done anything special. The team barely pulled out a win against North Carolina, who are a game below .500 on the season. But, the major thing that is hurting the defending champions, is that their conference is bad. The ACC isn’t good when it comes to football, giving Clemson easy wins against bad teams and their non-conference schedule wasn’t good either, with the exception of Texas A&M. However, the only thing that is positive for the Tigers at this time is the fact that the top four teams have to play each other. These matchups will result in two of the top four having a loss, which will vault Clemson back into the top four.

There are still plenty of weeks left for teams to make pushes for the CFP. We don’t know how things will shake out. Two games between the top four teams will really cause a shakeup of the top spots. Let’s see what happens.