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10 Takeaways from First College Football Playoff Rankings

Following Week 9, the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season were revealed on Tuesday, November 1. As usual, controversy surrounds the standings.

We now know how the committee views college football’s best teams. Plus, we gained an insight into what the committee values most when studying teams. Check out our 10 takeaways from 2022’s first College Football Playoff rankings.

Javontez Spraggins #76 of the Tennessee Volunteers
Javontez Spraggins #76 of the Tennessee Volunteers | Eakin howard/getty images/afp

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College Football Playoff Rankings

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

New Faces in the CFP Poll

College football has been fun with more parity than normal. That was reflected in the polls with No. 1 Tennessee, No. 12 UCLA, and No. 13 Kansas State ranked higher than usual. In addition, several new faces were in the Top 25.

No. 16 Illinois, No. 19 Tulane, and No. 23 Oregon State made their first appearance in the CFP rankings. Illinois (7-1, 4-1) and Tulane (7-1, 4-0) have a chance to substantially move up. Both have upcoming Top-25 opponents and are in a position to play in their conference championships.

SEC Held in High Regard

As usual, the committee had immense respect for the SEC. The conference had the highest-ranked undefeated, one-loss, and two-loss teams. Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama are in the top six. Plus, No. 10 LSU and No. 11 Ole Miss gave the SEC five teams in the top 11.

This is the best conference in college football, but some teams, like LSU and Alabama, were given too much respect. The SEC bias is alive and well.

Head-to-Head Contradictions

A 13-member group creating these rankings will never be perfect. There has been an outcry about the committee’s methods for years. There is always an area that is contradicting and confusing. This time it was how the group values head-to-head matchups.

LSU ended up in a spot that feels far too high. This was mostly due to the Tigers’ dominant 45-20 win over Ole Miss on October 22. The committee put a high priority on LSU over Ole Miss. However, No. 14 Utah, which defeated No. 9 USC, was placed behind the Trojans. Upcoming rankings will give a better idea of how important head-to-head is.

Group of Five’s New Year’s Six Chances

The first rankings showed the Group of Five is weak. Making a New Year’s Six bowl game may be out of the picture.

No. 19 Tulane is the only Group of Five team that could play in a major bowl game. The Green Wave is 7-1 and sits atop the American Athletic Conference. If Tulane does not win out, no Group of Five will play in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Pac-12 is Alive in the Playoff Race

After quick losses from Oregon, Utah, and USC, the Pac-12 was quickly written off in the playoff race. The CFP committee clearly respects the Pac-12, as it should. The conference’s playoff chances are alive and well.

No. 8 Oregon, USC and UCLA all have a legitimate shot with one loss, but several teams at the top will need to fall.

Matt Sykes #12 of the UCLA Bruins
Matt Sykes #12 of the UCLA Bruins | Harry how/getty images/afp

TCU Disrespected

The TCU Horned Frogs’ ranking was the most controversial. TCU is 8-0 with wins over No. 18 Oklahoma State and No. 13 Kansas State. The Frogs were placed one spot behind one-loss Alabama.

TCU deserves to be No. 6 at least. It has a case for being as high as No. 4, over Clemson and Michigan. Like in 2014, the Horned Frogs were punished for being a small brand.

Clemson Over Michigan Raises Eyebrows

Of course, the top four spots determine who will play in the College Football Playoff. Headed into Tuesday night, Michigan seemed like a shoo-in for No. 4. Instead, the committee placed Clemson at No. 4 and the Wolverines at No. 5.

This was an interesting choice. Clemson has not played well most of the season, especially in its 27-21 win over No. 20 Syracuse on October 22. The Tigers have an active problem at quarterback, while Michigan continues to roll in the Big Ten. Ultimately, this will figure itself out in the coming weeks, but it was still a questionable decision.

Ohio State or Georgia Debate

Within the top 3, Ohio State was placed over Georiga. This showed the committee values the “eye test.” The Bulldogs’ 49-3 win over Oregon is easily their best win. However, Georgia has stumbled against Kent State (39-22), Missouri (26-22) and Florida (42-20). On the other hand, Ohio State has displayed more consistency.

Georgia can easily leap Ohio State with a win over Tennessee on Saturday.

Tennessee Earned the Respect

There was some debate about who should be No. 1. Tennessee was the right choice for the top spot. The Volunteers have the country’s most impressive resume with wins over No. 6 Alabama and No. 10 LSU.

The rankings of Alabama and LSU also showed how much respect the committee has for Tennessee. The Volunteers, who feature the country’s top offense, deserved the No. 1 spot without question.

Expanded Playoff is the Right Decision

In September, a 12-team College Football Playoff expansion was made official with a unanimous vote. This season’s rankings show why an expansion was inevitable.

The SEC has three playoff-caliber teams, the Big Ten has two worthy teams and the Big 12 and Pac-12 are playing great football. When the final playoff rankings are revealed, at least one deserving team will be left out. College football is finally showing signs of balance at the top, proving a playoff expansion was necessary.

The College Football Playoff will be here before you know it. Conference championship week is only about one month away. Playoff dreams will be made or crushed in the coming weeks.

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