College Football Playoff Rankings: The top four teams are Tennessee, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson

College Football Playoff Rankings: The top four teams are Tennessee, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson


They’re singing “Rocky Top” at the top of the College Football Playoff’s No. 1 rankings.

The rankings, released Tuesday by the CFP’s 13-member selection committee, contained some mild surprises, starting with Tennessee getting the No. 1 nod. Georgia, defending national champion ranked #1 in the latest Associated Press surveythird in the CFP rankings.

Between SEC East rivals, scheduled for Saturday in a titanic showdown, Ohio State came. The Buckeyes are tied with the Volunteers at No. 2 in the AP poll; all three teams have a record of 8-0.

The recognition from the CFP committee was the latest feather in the cap for Tennessee coach Josh Heupel, who took over the program in January 2021 in relative disarray after three years under former coach Jeremy Pruitt. After going 7-6 last season, Heupel has the Volunteers in position to make the playoffs for the first time, which replaced the Bowl Championship Series in 2014.

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Asked on ESPN after revealing Tuesday how quickly he envisions becoming a national championship contender, Heupel he replied: “I don’t know that we put a time frame on it, and I think that’s one of the things that made our players buy into what we’re doing. We never put a ceiling.”

On his expectations for Tuesday, Heupel said, “We didn’t know where we were going to be ranked, but we thought we were going to be somewhere near the top. At the end of the day, one of the things our players did was we tried to enjoy the journey. Take a moment to pause, reflect, and enjoy what our players have built here. They made this.

“It didn’t look like this three years ago,” he continued. “But it’s a proud tradition, a huge fan base that loves the Power T, and they’re excited about the way our players are playing. Accept it.”

With Tennessee, Ohio State and Georgia expected to finish in the top three — not necessarily in that order — much of the intrigue heading into Tuesday night’s reveal centers on which program will land in the key fourth spot. . Ultimately, only the top four will advance to the playoffs to determine the national champion.

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This round went to Clemson, another 8-0 team ranked fifth in the AP poll. Michigan, which is fourth in that poll, was ranked fifth by the committee.

Michigan still has a date with Ohio State on its calendar, meaning the Wolverines could have a chance to essentially crack the top four if they beat the Buckeyes, assuming both programs keep winning between now and their regular-season matchup. season.

Alabama, 7-1 after a last-second loss to Tennessee last month, was ranked sixth by the committee. That left TCU, the only other 8-0 team among Power Five programs, in seventh place.

Oregon (7-1), Southern California (7-1) and LSU (6-2) rounded out the top 10, respectively.

In giving the Volunteers the top spot, CFP Chairman Boo Corrigan said on ESPN that their wins over the Crimson Tide and at LSU “really sealed the day for Tennessee.” Tennessee is also coming off a 44-6 shutout of then-No. 19 Kentucky, and it may have helped the Volunteers that they were ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s strength of record metric.

Ohio State’s biggest win at the time was No. 13 Penn State on the road last week, and the Buckeyes also boast an early win over Notre Dame. They lead Football Bowl Subdivision teams in average scoring margin (32.0) and are second in points per game at 48.9, just behind Tennessee (49.4).

On putting Ohio State ahead of Georgia, Corrigan said, “I think the explosive nature of their Ohio State offense — [quarterback] CJ Stroud, [wide receiver] Marvin Harrison Jr. — the win over Penn State, the way they came back to win that game, again, very close. Two well-balanced teams, but at the end of the day the committee decided to go with Ohio State.”

Corrigan, the North Carolina State athletic director, added that the board’s decision came from “13 different voices in the room” and noted that some were pushing for Ohio State and Georgia to get the top spot.

Ranked seventh in the AP poll, TCU beat four teams then ranked in the top 25 – Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas – and its four road wins all came against solid opponents. Clemson swept three teams ranked in the top 25 by the AP and CFP committees: Syracuse, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.

Michigan, which recently defeated Michigan State in a matchup that made national headlines the violence that broke out among opposing players in the stadium tunnel after the match, smashed then no. 10 Penn State last month. In September, the Wolverines beat Marylandwhich is now 6-2.

Here is the complete ranking list of the selection committee:

9. Southern California (7-1)

22. North Carolina State (6-2)

In addition to Corrigan, the CFP selection panel includes: University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart; University of Wyoming Athletic Director Tom Burman; University of Colorado Athletic Director Rick George; Naval Academy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk; former coach Jim Grobe; University of Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel; former Nebraska offensive lineman and College Football Hall of Famer Will Shields; Kansas State Athletic Director Gene Taylor; Virginia Union University athletic official Joe Taylor; former Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel; former Notre Dame player Rod West; and Montclair University sports journalist and associate professor Kelly Whiteside, the only woman on the committee.

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