Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, Penn State top 1st CFP rank­ings

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo AP Col­lege Foot­ball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) >> Two from the Big Ten. Two from the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence. And the un­de­feated de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pi­ons on the out­side look­ing in — for now.

Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Penn State were the top four teams Tues­day night in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off se­lec­tion com­mit­tee’s first rank­ings of the sea­son.

Next up was Clem­son, win­ner of two of the last three play­offs, fol­lowed by Ge­or­gia and Ore­gon. The 13-mem­ber com­mit­tee will pro­duce four more weekly top 25s be­fore the only ones that re­ally count come out on se­lec­tion Sun­day, Dec. 8.

The semi­fi­nals will be held this sea­son at the Fi­esta Bowl in Glen­dale, Ari­zona, and the Peach Bowl in At­lanta on Dec. 28. The na­tional cham­pi­onship game is Jan. 13 in New Or­leans.

The top four in the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee’s ini­tial rank­ings have never all reached the semi­fi­nals in the play­off’s five-year his­tory. Eleven of the 20 teams that started in the top four of the CFP rank­ings have reached the play­off, but, oddly, never the team ranked third.

Utah was eighth and Ok­la­homa, the high­es­tranked team from the Big 12, was ninth. Florida gave the SEC four of the top 10 teams.

An­other SEC team, Auburn, was 11th, fol­lowed by Bay­lor, one of the coun­try’s sur­pris­ing un­beaten teams.

The high­est-ranked team among Group of Five con­fer­ence schools was Cincin­nati out of the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence at No. 20. The top team from out­side the Power Five con­fer­ences gets a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

It was hard to call any­thing a sur­prise — or all that im­por­tant — in the first rank­ings, but Clem­son be­ing out of the top four was no­table.

“When you look at Penn State’s ré­sumé, with wins over (No. 15) Michi­gan and (No. 18) Iowa, those are mar­quee wins,” said com­mit­tee chair­man Rob Mul­lens, who is also Ore­gon’s ath­letic di­rec­tor. “Now, Clem­son’s com­ing on and play­ing its best foot­ball, but after Week 10, the com­mit­tee thought (the Nit­tany Lions) were a notch above (Clem­son).”

The good news for the Tigers is the teams in front of them have to play one an­other. LSU is at Alabama on Satur­day. The teams are No. 1 and No. 2, re­spec­tively, in the AP Top 25 but are sec­ond and third in the CFP rank­ings.

Ohio State and Penn State face off on Nov. 23. The Nit­tany Lions also face a chal­lenge this week when they visit un­beaten Min­nesota, which was ranked 17th by the com­mit­tee.

As long as Clem­son keeps win­ning, the Tigers should be OK.

What could re­ally turn the race in­side out are up­sets. With four weeks left be­fore cham­pi­onship week­end when the play­off and bowl game berths are set, un­ranked teams have op­por­tu­ni­ties to pro­vide po­ten­tial twists and turns: WEEK 11 Iowa State at No. 9 Ok­la­homa. The Cy­clones came into the sea­son ranked and were con­sid­ered maybe the third-best team in the Big 12. They have lost three times, but by a com­bined 10 points. If the Soon­ers were to take a sec­ond loss, sud­denly Bay­lor be­comes not just the best play­off hope for the Big 12, but maybe the only one. WEEK 12 UCLA at No. 8 Utah. The Bruins have won three straight games after a ter­ri­ble start and are still in con­trol of their Pac-12 South cham­pi­onship hopes. The Utes have been dom­i­nant, but coach Chip Kelly could turn this into his first sig­na­ture win at UCLA and ruin the Pac-12’s hope of a UtahOre­gon ti­tle game match­ing 11-1 teams.

Penn State at In­di­ana. The Hoosiers are on their way to their best sea­son in 15 years and they will face the Nit­tany Lions after Min­nesota and be­fore Ohio State. WEEK 13 Texas A&M at Ge­or­gia. The Ag­gies have al­ready faced Alabama and Clem­son. The Bull­dogs might be more at their level. An­other loss would all but elim­i­nate the Bull­dogs and could com­pli­cate the SEC’s hopes of land­ing two teams in the fi­nal four.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.