On Tuesday, the College Football Playoff Committee released their initial playoff rankings for the 2017 season.
Each Tuesday from now until the end of the season in December, the committee will provide the general public with exactly where their favorite teams stand. These rankings provide an interesting insight on how each team stacks up; however, no more than two of the initial top four teams have eventually gone on to make the playoff in a given year, so these rankings must be taken with a grain of salt.
This is the third year that the CFP has been in place and it is shaping up to be the hardest to project. The top six teams: Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State each have their own flaws and their own issues that could ultimately keep them out of the playoff.
The initial rankings seemed to make sense to many, but there were three specific rankings that seemed to draw the most controversy: Georgia over Alabama, Notre Dame being ranked No. 3 and Ohio State ranked below Oklahoma. Many people were extremely surprised that Georgia jumped Alabama, the preseason No. 1; however, I believe the committee got this exactly right. While Alabama is a great team, and they have an untouchable reputation, they simply have not played anyone. The SEC is not what it has been in years past and the marquee win that Alabama thought they had against Florida State looks less impressive by the day. While I fully expect Alabama to ultimately make the Playoff, as of right now Georgia is a more proven and deserving team.
As far as Notre Dame is concerned, they are deserving of the No. 3 ranking as it currently stands. Their only loss on the year is a one-point loss to No. 1 Georgia, and they have been absolutely dominating all the teams they have played. Ultimately, I would be extremely surprised if Notre Dame is able to win their remaining games thus I doubt that they will be in the top four at the end of the season. What will be extremely interesting to watch is how the committee treats a one loss Notre Dame team compared to one loss Big 12 and Big 10.
As Notre Dame is independent, they have no conference championship. Will the committee really put a one-loss Notre Dame team in the playoff over a one loss conference champion? I doubt it, but time will tell.
The final bit of controversy centered around Ohio State, coming off a huge win against Penn State last weekend. The Buckeyes found themselves sitting at No. 6, two spots outside of the playoff. Many were surprised at this as they seem to be clearly the best team in the Big 10. I really like that the committee is looking at a team’s full body of work and not just their most recent game. The Buckeyes were dominated by Oklahoma early in the year, and while the teams have been trending in different directions, as of late, I commend the committee for avoiding recent bias.