Alabama (7-0) was number 1 on Tuesday-evening in the first College Football Playoff-ranking of the season, followed by Notre Dame (8-0), Clemson (7-1) and Ohio State (4-0).
Texas A&M (5-1) was fifth and Florida (6-1) was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference three of the top six teams, along with Alabama.
The unbeaten Cincinnati (8-0) of the American Athletic Conference in seventh place has the best ranking for a non-Power Five team in the selection committee’s seven-year history of the top 25.
No. 8 Northwestern (5-0), which is likely to face Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, Georgia (5-2) and Miami (7-1) round out the top 10. Georgia is the two highest-ranked team losing despite double-figure losses to both Alabama and Florida, while Clemson, who lost his only game at Notre Dame in two extra times while playing without starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence, is the highest-ranked team with one loss .
Another unbeaten team from outside the Power Five was not as highly regarded by the committee. BYU (9-0) was placed 14th, including behind No. 11 Oklahoma (6-2) and No. 13 Iowa State (6-2). The Cougars were No. 8 in the latest AP Top 25.
The highest seeded Pac-12 team was Oregon (3-0) in 15th place and USC (3-0) was 18th. The Pac-12 was the last FBS conference to start the 2020 season.
Much like this season during a pandemic, the ranking schedule has been slowed down and shortened this year. The 13-member selection committee usually starts with ranking teams around Halloween and produces six leaderboards for the latter that determine which 12 teams will play in the semifinals and major bowl games.
This is the first of four rankings leading to the only ones that really count, which will be released on December 20. Conference championships and other competitions are scheduled for December 18 and December 19.
The pandemic did not stop the selection committee from meeting in person as usual at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine Texas, just outside of Dallas. And the playoff itself is scheduled to start as planned with the semifinals on January 1 at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl and the championship game on January 11 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Due to the strange season, these first commission rankings probably had a little more intrigue than usual and questions needed to be answered.
Q: How did the committee handle the non-Power Five-on-reports, such as Cincinnati and BYU?
The Bearcats should be thrilled. The Cougars, not so much.
No non-Power Five team had ever ranked better than 12th in the first rankings. The best position in a selection committee in the top 25 by a team from outside the Power Five was No. 8 by unbeaten UCF in the final 2018 rankings.
At worst, Cincinnati is lined up nicely to win and take the place guaranteed for the best group of five conference champions in the new year’s six bowls.
The other contenders for that spot when Cincinnati collapses along the stretch are Coastal Carolina at 20, Marshall at 21, and the Bearcats’ AAC rival Tulsa at 25.
BYU’s original 2020 schedule featured games against six Power 5 opponents – Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota, Missouri and Stanford – all of which were canceled when the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC went to competitions only due to the pandemic . As an independent FBS, BYU has rethought its schedule and has taken victories over Boise State, Houston, Navy and Troy, winning all but one by 17 points or more and surpassing its opponents 428-125 so far.
Not only are the Cougars on the outside of the realistic playoff race, but they would still have to climb a few spots for a shot at a big invite to one of the lucrative New Year’s Six games.
“Great motivation for our guys,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in the ESPN rankings that the show revealed while walking the high road most of the time. “I love our team, love our players – I think we play a great football game with excitement and passion, and we have a lot of work to do and a lot to prove, in a short time of course, and hopefully we will be able to do that together to get. ”
CFP selection committee chairman Gary Barta, who appeared on the show, said the committee is “very impressed with BYU,” but acknowledged that the “schedule came into play compared to the teams around them” and that their best win came against a team with an exhausted team. .
“Zach Wilson is definitely a Heisman candidate who plays at a high level,” Barta said of the BYU starting quarterback. “They have defeated three or four teams of over .500. But if you look at their schedule – and that’s certainly what the committee was looking at – their best win is against Boise State. Boise fell short in that game. ”
A bid for the Fiesta, Cotton and Peach bowls would be worth $ 4 million to the independent Cougars, who are ineligible for the seat reserved for the Group of Five.
BYU has only one game left before the regular season, against San Diego State (3-2) on December 12, but has open dates this week and following and is looking for opponents. There have been some discussions in recent days between Washington (2-0), where the Washington State game was called off, and BYU, but Sitake said, “It didn’t work out for some reason.”
“There’s a story that we hid or bowed or waited, and that’s just not true,” added Sitake. “It’s a false story. I want to make sure everyone understands that we are not afraid of anyone. … We have two more weeks open, December 5th and 19th, that we are ready to play football – and if there is someone who is actually available to play those games, we would love to do that. ”
“We’re not afraid of anyone,” said Sitake.
Well what about Cincinnati? The Cougars and Bearcats will both depart on December 5.
It always comes down to risk / reward. The Cougars can certainly use a boost. The Bearcats, who have league wins over SMU, Memphis, UCF, Houston, East Carolina and South Florida, still have Temple this week and a visit to Tulsa is scheduled for December 12, which debuted at No. 25 in the CFP rankings. Cincinnati and Tulsa are likely to meet in the AAC title match the following week.
Would that be enough for the Bearcats to get into the playoff position after some of the teams have been eliminated for them? A win against BYU would certainly boost the resume.
Q: How much emphasis was placed on data points?
Some, evident by looking at the unbeaten Ohio State behind Clemson and the Pac-12 teams far back. But again, Wisconsin (2-1) in 16 may not be suggesting enough.
Question: How much was the difference between the head and the head?
In the case of Texas A&M and Florida a lot. The Aggies defeat the Gators and are ahead of them.
In the case of Oklahoma and Iowa State, not so much. The Cyclones beat the Sooners last month, but Oklahoma has been on a roll lately, standing in front of Iowa State.
Notably, Louisiana-Lafayette of the Sun Belt won in Iowa State to open the season and has only one loss to Coastal Carolina. And the Ragin ‘Cajuns are not ranked.
Q: What about the last-starting Pac-12 teams?
There is reason to believe that a Pac-12 team can climb some ranks in the rankings, but there is not much to evaluate its teams so far. Even if Oregon and USC meet in a Pac-12 title game with 6-0 records, the winner could still be far behind teams that have played longer schedules in the final standings.
“They play at a high level – they have some talented young players,” Barta said of Oregon. “With three games they have not yet beaten or played a ranked team, so we had to evaluate three games now – we put them where we thought they should be for now. We have four more weeks of the CFP meeting and I look forward to adding more games to that resume to see where they go from here. ”
Question: Yes, and about the Big 12?
The conference won’t fare better than a two-down champion who needs a lot of help to get to the top four, but the rankings suggest the Big 12 isn’t quite out of this. Especially if Oklahoma continues its recent frenzy.
***** COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS (November 24) *****
1. Alabama (7-0)
2. Notre Dame (8-0)
3. Clemson (7-1)
4. Ohio State (4-0)
Texas A&M (5-1)
7. Cincinnati (8-0)
8. Northwest (5-0)
9. Georgia (5-2)
10. Miami (7-1)
12. Indiana (4-1)
13. Iowa State (6-2)
14. BYU (9-0)
15. Oregon (3-0)
16. Wisconsin (2-1)
17. Texas (5-2)
18. USC (3-0)
19. UNC (6-2)
20. Coastal Carolina (8-0)
21. Marshall (7-0)
22. Maroon (5-2)
23. Oklahoma State (5-2)
24. Iowa (3-2)
25. Tulsa (5-1)