Tennessee, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson are in first place in the CFP rankings

Tennessee, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson are in first place in the CFP rankings

GRAPEVINE, Texas — Undefeated Tennessee earned the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff’s initial Top 25 rankings on Tuesday, marking the first time in program history that it has entered the top four, followed by No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Clemson.

The 13-member committee ranked undefeated Michigan No. 5, and one-loss Alabama was No. 6 ahead of undefeated no. 7. TCU. Alabama has been ranked in the top three in the initial rankings in each of the last six years. Alabama has never been ranked lower than No. 6 in the committee’s first ranking, having earned the same spot in 2014.

“We talked about it earlier in the week, but we didn’t know where we were going to be ranked,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said on ESPN. “At the end of the day, one thing we’ve tried to do here is enjoy the journey.”

Tennessee, which averages 49 points per game and leads the FBS in total offense, became the seventh different program to claim the No. 1 seed at any point in the playoff era.

“We’ve continued to build our roster and really believe in where we’re going,” Heupel said. “We continue to get better throughout the season.”

The Vols entered Tuesday’s opening rankings ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s Power of Record metric with the nation’s best win against No. 6 Alabama.

“When you look at the (top) three teams, the two wins with Alabama and at LSU really sealed the day for Tennessee,” CFP Committee Chairman Boo Corrigan, North Carolina State’s athletic director, said on ESPN.

When asked about the difference between Ohio State and Georgia for the No. 2 spot, Corrigan said one of the primary factors the committee looked at was “the explosive nature of their Ohio State offense.”

Seven of the previous eight teams that were ranked as no. 1 in the first rank of the committee have reached the CFP. The only exception was Mississippi State in 2014, the first season of the CFP.

At No. 8, one-loss Oregon was the Pac-12’s top-ranked team.

Tennessee and Georgia will meet on Saturday in a game that will have a drastic impact on the second seed in the committee, and Ohio State and Michigan will eventually face off in their regular season rivalry matchup.

“It’s a long way to go,” Heupel said, “and obviously, we have a huge test with Georgia.”

In all, the first edition includes five teams each from the SEC, ACC and Pac-12, four each from the Big Ten and Big 12 and two from America.

“We don’t really look at conferences, we look at individual teams,” Corrigan said. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to pick the best teams and deploy them in the right way.”

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