The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY)

Alabama takes top spot in first rankings, with SEC taking three of top six spots

- By Ralph D. Russo

Alabama was No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season Tuesday night, followed by Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State.

Texas A& M was fifth and Florida sixth, giving the Southeaste­rn Conference three of the top six teams.

Alabama is No. 1 in the CFP rankings for a record 19th time.

Unbeaten Cincinnati from the American Athletic Conference at seventh has the best ranking for a non-Power Five team in the seven-year history of the selection committee’s top 25.

No. 8 Northweste­rn, Georgia and Miami rounded out the top 10.

Another unbeaten team from outside the Power Five was not so highly regarded by the committee. BYU was slotted 14th, behind No. 11 Oklahoma (6-2) and No. 13 Iowa State (6-2), among others. The Cougars were No. 8 in the latest AP Top 25.

The highest-ranked Pac12 team was Oregon at 15th. Southern California was 18th.

Much like this entire college football season played in a pandemic, the rankings schedule has been delayed and truncated this year.

The 13-person selection committee usually starts ranking teams around Halloween and produces six rankings before the final ones that determine which 12 teams will play in the semifinals and major bowl games.

This is the first of four reveals leading up to the only ones that really count, scheduled to be released on Dec. 20.

The coronaviru­s pandemic didn’t stop the selection committee from meeting in person as usual at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, Texas, just outside Dallas. And the playoff itself is scheduled to go off as scheduled with the semifinals on Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, and the championsh­ip game Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Because of the strange

season, these initial committee rankings had more intrigue than normal and several questions to answer.

“We embraced the chaos,” committee chairman Gary Barta, who is Iowa’s athletic director, told ESPN.

Q: How did the committee treat the non-PowerFive unbeatens?

Cincinnati (8- 0) should be thrilled. BYU (9- 0), not so much. Even though the Cougars lead the FBS in scoringmar­gin at 33 points per game.

Barta said the Cougars’ schedule, which had to be rebuilt because Power Five conference­s mostly decided to play only league games due to the pandemic, wasn’t tough enough to warrant a better ranking.

“Right now BYU’s best win is over Boise State, and in that game I think (the Broncos) got down to their third- string quarterbac­k,” Barta said.

No non-Power Five team had ever ranked better than 12th in the first rankings. The best ranking in any selection committee top 25 by a team from outside the Power Five had been No. 8 for unbeaten UCF in the final 2018 rankings.

 ?? MICKEY WELSH - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) heads for a long gain as coach Nick Saban watches during the team’s NCAA college football game against Kentucky on Saturday,
Nov. 21, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
MICKEY WELSH - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) heads for a long gain as coach Nick Saban watches during the team’s NCAA college football game against Kentucky on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA