Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson top first CFP rankings

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A couple of games played during Week 2 of the season had a major effect on the first College Football Playoff rankings.

Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and defending national champion Clemson were the top four teams in the selection committee’s initial top 25 released Tuesday.

Oklahoma, Ohio State and Penn State were next as the committee members let head-to-head results and strength of schedule be their guide. The final rankings that will determine the participants in the CFP semifinals come out Dec. 3.

Georgia and Alabama, Southeastern Conference rivals, are both 8-0 and have been dominating their competition.

Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt, the athletic director for Texas Tech, said the Bulldogs had a slight edge over the Crimson Tide because of its 20-19 victory against Notre Dame on Sept. 9 — the Fighting Irish (7-1) have not lost since, including blowouts of Michigan State (24th), Southern California (17th) and N.C. State (20th).

Hocutt noted those three victories against teams in the committee’s top 25, along with the close loss to Georgia, as the reason for the Irish being the highest ranked in a group of one-loss teams from three to seven.

“The teams ranked three through seven are very evenly matched,” Hocutt said.

On the same night Georgia beat Notre Dame, Oklahoma went to Columbus, Ohio, and beat the Buckeyes 31-16.

“For the teams five through seven, their head-to-head results were very important to the committee,” Hocutt said.

Ohio State (7-1) rallied to beat Penn State (7-1) last Saturday, 39-38.

In the AP Top 25, Ohio State was No. 3, Penn State No. 7 and Oklahoma was No. 8. Those rankings had some Sooners wondering if the committee would do something similar. They were happy to find out that was not the case.

“We all just watched it as a team just now,” Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo said. “We were all just jumping around yelling. Everybody’s hungry. We feel like our foot’s in the door, so we want to go ahead and make it happen.”

Over the first three seasons of the playoff, a total of five teams have been ranked in the top four of the initial ranking and gone on to reach the semifinals: Florida State (which was second) in 2014; Clemson (first) and Alabama (fourth) in 2015; and Alabama (first) and Clemson (second) in 2016.