College Football Playoff Rankings: Stage set for crucial weekend matchup

The first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were revealed on Tuesday, setting the stage for what should be an exciting back half of the 2022-23 season.

Tennessee, which has a win over Alabama this season, was ranked first, followed by Ohio State, Georgia and Clemson in the top four. Undefeated Michigan came in just outside of a playoff spot at No. 5, followed by Alabama, TCU and Oregon.

Tennessee is No. 1 in the CFP rankings for the first time. Only one team that has been ranked No. 1 in the committee’s initial rankings has not made the playoffs, but only half of the teams in the top four managed to finish there.

As is often the case, this is the time of the year when the top two teams in the Southeastern Conference have stood out among the top four teams in the sport.

But this season has a new wrinkle, because those two SEC teams — No. 1 Tennessee and No. 3 Georgia — hail from the SEC East, a first since the College Football Playoff was created in 2014.

It also means the Vols’ game against Georgia on Saturday will act as a de facto game for the CFP semifinals because someone’s “O” has to go. This contest will be closely watched by other contenders hoping to take advantage of the situation, especially undefeated teams outside the top four like No. 5 Michigan and No. 7 TCU.

Tennessee has certainly done its part with the best resume in the sport: five AP-ranked wins and a season-best win over previously winless Alabama for the first time since the invention of the iPhone.

The 2022 Volunteers are also on pace for the best offense in 20 years to win a national title: 2019 LSU.

Tennessee scores more points (49.4 to 48.4) and allows fewer points (21 to 21.9) than this LSU team, while gaining more yards per play (7.9 to 7.4).

But the Vols have yet to face a defense as talented as the Dawgs, who allow just 10.3 points per game and haven’t given up more than 22 in a single outing this season. The Bulldogs are no slouch offensively either, averaging better than 41 points per game with their own Heisman candidate at quarterback in Stetson Bennett.

The reason the CFP committee gives the SEC so much credibility is not just because the league itself is tough, but because 12 of the last 15 national champions have played in it. With Georgia defending its title, the Volunteers looked like a title contender for the first time since Tee Martin’s 1998 team, and the Tide still have a very real path to the semifinals, that’s true again.

While Tennessee and Georgia aren’t 1-2 in the CFP rankings, they are 1-2 in the AP Top 25. We haven’t seen a heavyweight matchup of this caliber in three years, and it’s just the 25th time in the regular classification season has passed since the AP poll began in 1936. The last time the AP’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams played in the regular season, LSU rallied from a 20-game deficit points at halftime to beat Alabama and never looked back. .

As for the SEC, when its top two are also the nation’s top two and play in the regular season, that game produces the national champion. Maybe it just means more.

Tuesday’s reveal was the first of the CFP rankings announcements, which will be released every Tuesday for the rest of the season. The four CFP teams will be revealed when the final rankings are released on Sunday, December 4.

Earlier, Bryan Fischer outlined the paths to the CFP for the top 12 candidates.

Here are the rankings:

1. Tennessee (8-0)
2. Ohio State (8-0)
3. Georgia (8-0)
4. Clemson (8-0)
5. Michigan (8-0)
6. Alabama (7-1)
7. TCU (8-0)
8. Oregon (7-1)
9. USC (7-10
10. LSU (6-2)
11. Ole Miss (8-1)
12. UCLA (7-1)
13. Kansas State (6-2)
14. Utah (6-2)
15. Penn State (6-2)
16. Illinois (7-1)
17. North Carolina (7-1)
18. Oklahoma State (6-2)
19. Tulane (7-1)
20. Syracuse (6-2)
21. Wake Forest (6-2)
22. NC State (6-2)
23. Oregon State (6-2)
24. Texas (5-3)
25. UCF (6-2)

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RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The number one college football show.“Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young i subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.

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