Andrea AdelsonESPN Senior Writer4 minutes of reading
Ohio State is ranked No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night, while two-time defending national champion Georgia is just behind at No. 2.
Michigan, under NCAA investigation amid allegations of sign theft, No. 3, while Florida State is ranked No. 4 and Washington no. 5. Oregon ranks No. 6, while Texas ranks No. 1. They are one spot ahead of Alabama on the strength of a win over the Tide in September.
“We saw that, the big win against Notre Dame, and the win over Penn State, and they have difference-makers on offense,” CFP president Boo Corrigan said of the Buckeyes on ESPN’s rankings release show. “We looked at it, and Ohio State deserves the top spot.”
With five undefeated Power 5 teams ranked first, the biggest question was how the team would choose to split them. Clearly, strength of schedule played a big role.
“As a group, the 13 of us in the room, we felt it was a line for the top four,” Corrigan said.
The Buckeyes have played a much stronger schedule than Georgia to date. They have two top-15 wins over Penn State (No. 11) and Notre Dame (No. 15). Georgia currently has zero top 25 wins and is currently ranked 100th by ESPN metrics. The Bulldogs have only beaten two FBS teams with winning records.
Michigan has played a much weaker schedule than Georgia, currently ranked 111th.
Those metrics will change in the coming weeks, though, as both teams hit the toughest stretch of their respective schedules. Georgia spends the next three weeks at No. 12 Missouri, no. 10 Ole Miss and no. 17 plays against Tennessee. No. in Michigan. 11 Penn State and No. 1 Ohio State remain.
Again, that rivalry between the Buckeyes and Wolverines could have major implications in the playoffs. Corrigan also mentioned Michigan’s trial and what it means on the show.
“We really look at this as an NCAA issue, not a CFP issue,” Corrigan said. “At the moment, when we look at it, we want to find the top four teams.”
While the Huskies have good wins over Florida State and Washington (against No. 6 Oregon), they’ve struggled the past two weeks against teams with losses — needing late comebacks against Arizona State and Stanford to win. Perhaps that played a role in the group’s vision. Like Georgia and Michigan, Washington has key matchups that could help its strength of schedule — especially compared to Florida State.
“It feels right. It’s just the beginning. Once the season is over, there’s a lot of football to be played,” Washington coach Cullen DeBoer said on the show. “We’ve done what we need to do. This next month is going to be a big month for us.”
Huskies no. 20 USC, no. 18 Utah and no. 16 Oregon State is coming.
“We’re in a different place than we were a year ago. We have a target on our back,” DeBoer said. “We really have to wake up, and so far, we have.”
As for the Seminoles, they have just one top 25 win over 14 LSU. Playing in a league with another ranked team (No. 13 Louisville) doesn’t seem to have affected the way the team views the Seminoles. Still. Florida State and Louisville don’t play each other during the regular season, meaning the Seminoles have zero ranked teams on their schedule.
“There’s a lot (included), and we have three new board members in the room,” Corrigan said. “The biggest thing is that we get it right and we’re comfortable where we are. Looking at Washington, it was a little bit of a concern.”
As for the other undefeated team to qualify for the postseason, Air Force (8-0) is ranked No. 25. But the Falcons aren’t among the top 5 schools. Despite the loss, Tulane (7-1) is ranked No. 24 ahead of Air Force.