There was little surprise at the top of the initial College Football Playoff committee rankings released Tuesday.
Alabama and Notre Dame, the top two teams in the Amway Coaches Poll, held the same respective spots in the 13-person committee’s order. The Crimson Tide have been dominant since the start of the season, winning all of their seven games by at least 17 points, including defeats of top 25 teams Texas A&M and Georgia. The unbeaten Fighting Irish boast the best win of any team — an overtime defeat of No. 3 Clemson.
Ohio State holds the No. 4 spot despite playing just four games. Its first three wins came against teams with a combined 2-12 record before last week’s defeat of No. 12 Indiana.
Sitting right outside the top four are SEC challengers Texas A&M and Florida. The Aggies beat the Gators in October, but trail Alabama in the West division. Florida is the likely East representative in the conference title game after its defeat of Georgia.
No. 7 Cincinnati is solidly in position to be the Group of Five representative in the New Year’s Six. The next-highest team from the candidates is No. 20 Coastal Carolina. The Bearcats have blown through their competitive American Athletic schedule with just one conference win by fewer than 21 points. They have the highest initial season ranking for any non-Power Five team.
Northwestern, Georgia and Miami (Fla.) complete the top 10.
Brigham Young slots in at No. 14, likely ending any hope of being in the playoff. The independent Cougars could earn an at-large berth in the New Year’s Six, though they only have San Diego State left on their schedule.
No. 15 Oregon and No. 18 Southern California, which have played three games apiece in the Pac-12, will need to make up ground to get into the mix, but there’s no other conference team in the ranking to boost their profile.
The first ranking of this season was delayed three weeks due to the Big Ten and Pac-12 starting their seasons later than the rest of the Power Five because of concerns with COVID-19. There will be only four weekly rankings — one fewer than usual — before the final ranking after the championship game.
For those upset with the initial order, take comfort that as more games are played the decisions Tuesday will be an afterthought come the final rankings.
Ohio State led LSU at No. 1 in the first rankings last year. Both teams finished unbeaten but the Tigers got the top seed. Alabama and Penn State were third and fourth in those first rankings and missed the field. Clemson and Oklahoma were fifth and ninth, respectively, and made the playoff.
The top four teams in the final rankings released Dec. 20 will play in the semifinals. Those games will take place at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. The championship game will be played on Jan. 11 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
College Football Playoff committee Top 25
1. Alabama (7-0)
2. Notre Dame (8-0)
3. Clemson (7-1)
4. Ohio State (4-0)
5. Texas A&M (5-1)
6. Florida (6-1)
7. Cincinnati (8-0)
8. Northwestern (5-0)
9. Georgia (5-2)
10. Miami (Fla.) (7-1)
11. Oklahoma (6-2)
12. Indiana (4-1)
13. Iowa State (6-2)
14. Brigham Young (9-0)
15. Oregon (3-0)
16. Wisconsin (2-1)
17. Texas (5-2)
18. Southern California (3-0)
19. North Carolina (6-2)
20. Coastal Carolina (8-0)
21. Marshall (7-0)
22. Auburn (5-2)
23. Oklahoma State (5-2)
24. Iowa (3-2)
25. Tulsa (5-1)
Follow Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith