Saturday, November 25, 2017
Colleges

Georgia tops first CFP rankings, followed by Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson

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TAMPA - ESPN’s broadcast of the initial College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday evening left no one hanging. A mere 16 minutes into the show, the entire top 25 had been revealed.

What the unveiling of the rankings lacked in suspense, it also lacked in surprises. At least major ones.

Georgia (8-0), Alabama (8-0), Notre Dame (7-1) and Clemson (7-1) are Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively; with Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State and TCU taking the next four spots.

Meantime, Miami (No. 10), UCF (No. 18) and even USF (unranked) still control their respective destinies.

The selection of the Bulldogs marked the third time in the playoff’s four-year history an SEC team has occupied the top spot, and illustrated the CFP selection committee’s emphasis on strength of schedule.

Georgia already has wins against Notre Dame and No. 16 Mississippi State. Alabama has no victory against a CFP top-25 team.

Another major criterion, head-to-head result, was manifested by Oklahoma being ranked one spot ahead of Ohio State, which fell to the Sooners 31-16 in Columbus on Sept. 9. Ohio State is No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, five spots ahead of the Sooners.

"As you know, we don’t look at the other polls," CFP selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt told ESPN’s Rece Davis.

"The first ranking in our eyes came out just now with our top 25. Ohio State had a great win last weekend against Penn State, they’ve played really well since their loss to Oklahoma.

"But at this point in the season, that head-to-head is important to the selection committee and will continue to be important to the selection committee."

Though one of only four undefeated Power Five teams, Miami (7-0) found itself barely in the top 10 after a five-point win Saturday against 1-8 North Carolina. One of Miami’s wins was against Division I-AA Bethune-Cookman, and its 24-20 win against FSU (2-5) has lost some of its sparkle.

But the Hurricanes’ ranking can skyrocket in the next two weeks with wins against Notre Dame and No. 13 Virginia Tech.

"I think there’s definitely a legitimacy to the (rankings), but it doesn’t matter where we are right now," ’Canes coach Mark Richt told reporters in Miami on Tuesday. "If we win we’ll go up. If we lose we’ll go down, that’s all there is to it."

Locally, USF (7-1) didn’t crack the rankings, but found a clear way to a New Year’s Six bowl. UCF (7-0) and 7-1 Memphis (No. 23) were the only Group of Five teams in the top 25. If the Bulls win their final three regular season games, including a Black Friday trip to UCF, they almost certainly would face Memphis in the AAC title game.

The CFP committee’s top-ranked Group of Five champion earns an automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl, likely the Peach.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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