Let the debates begin.
The College Football Playoff Committee released its first of five rankings for the 2019 season on Tuesday night, with Ohio State placed in the No. 1 spot. LSU, Alabama and Penn State rounded out the top four spots.
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Defending champion Clemson is sitting outside the projected semifinal group. The Tigers are unbeaten, but lack quality wins against top competition. Georgia, Oregon, Utah, Oklahoma, and Florida completed the top 10. Change is sure to come among the top five, with LSU and Alabama meeting on Saturday and Ohio State and Penn State set to clash on Nov. 23. And the winner of the Tigers and Crimson Tide likely will face Georgia in the SEC title game.
So, what conference came out a winner in the in the initial rankings? I have to say the Big 10. Ohio State’s two-month stretch of dominant play has the Buckeyes atop the debut rankings, though the stay might only last a week — the winner of Saturday’s game between LSU and Alabama will likely rise to No. 1, though the Buckeyes shouldn’t fall below No. 2 barring a loss.
Other five Big Ten teams follow: No. 4 Penn State, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 14 Michigan, No. 17 Minnesota and No. 18 Iowa. In the eyes of the committee, the Big Ten and SEC are the top leagues in the country by a substantial margin. Don’t fret Minnesota Golden Gopher fans. Yes, they are undefeated, but only ranked No. 17 in the rankings. That is mostly based on their strength of schedule, but that can all change starting Saturday with a home game against Penn State. Minnesota also has November games against Iowa and Wisconsin. Wins against both would set up a potential Big Ten championship against Ohio State. Win them all — good luck, Gophers — and Minnesota will be knocking on the door.
I am sure Clemson fans are screaming foul too after being ranked fifth, but the Tigers will jump into the top-4 as early as next week if the loser of the Alabama-LSU game falls out. But they still can’t afford a loss. A one-loss ACC champion shouldn’t stand up against other top teams, like a one-loss SEC or Big Ten team that isn’t a conference champ — or even lower-ranked teams like Oregon or Oklahoma.
So what does all this mean going forward? Absolutely nothing really. It’s pretty simple for the top teams, If they continue to win they will make the Final Four. That’s what will make the coming weeks so intriguing, but the bottom line is the rankings don’t really matter until December!