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The first rankings from the College Football Playoff committee were released Tuesday, and plenty of debate ensued.
Alabama earned the No. 1 spot, though as we have learned, all that matters is getting into the top four. Clemson, Michigan and Texas A&M also earned that distinction and are in position to compete for the National Championship.
Here is the rest of the Top 25 as decided by the committee:
The Crimson Tide weren’t much of a shocker at No. 1 after their impressive start to the year, and Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com provided an interesting note on the lack of parity atop the rankings:
Tonight is 14th all-time @CFBPlayoff ranking. Only 3 teams have been No. 1: Clemson 6 weeks, Alabama 5 (including tonight) & Miss. State 3
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 1, 2016
The rest of the Top 25, however, created plenty of arguments from experts around the college football landscape.
Nicole Auerbach of USA Today summed up the first list:
Things the CFP committee likes: Alabama, the Big Ten and strength of schedule.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) November 1, 2016
The biggest surprise was that the Aggies earned the No. 4 spot over Washington despite the fact they have one loss and the Huskies are undefeated.
Committee chair Kirby Hocutt explained the decision, per Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News:
Kirby Hocutt on why A&M is at No. 4: “Simply stated, the committee believes Texas A&M has played a stronger schedule” than Washington.
— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) November 1, 2016
Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports didn’t agree with this reasoning:
#Washington got screwed, absolutely screwed by the @CFBPlayoff committee. Should be No. 4. https://t.co/USW1ftWmmA #Huskies
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) November 1, 2016
Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports added his thoughts:
Washington’s schedule so far stinks, no argument there. But even opponent-adjusted computer rankings like S&P+ have UW ahead of A&M.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 1, 2016
Bryan Fischer of College Football Talk would like to see the two teams settle the debate on the field:
I’d say this watching A&M and Washington as much as I have, would be fun to see them have a play-in game for that semifinal.
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 1, 2016
On the other hand, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports pointed out another team can pass both of them:
College Playoff Drama! A&M No. 4! Above Ohio St! Which means nothing because Ohio St can win out and make it! But tune in next week too!
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) November 1, 2016
Meanwhile, the SEC is in great shape with Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida and LSU in the top 13, as noted by Jake Trotter of ESPN.com:
Have a feeling the SEC West is primed to get two in this year. Auburn, LSU are there looming.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 1, 2016
Louisville came in at No. 7, and the Cardinals have a long way to go considering their schedule only gets easier, as Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus noted:
Louisville already has their signature win over Florida State, might be tough for them to move up at this point#CFBPlayoff
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) November 1, 2016
In a shocker outside the top 10, Penn State landed at No. 12. The 6-2 squad has a win over Ohio State and is in good shape going forward, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:
#PennState up at 12 in the 1st Playoff rankings.. Has a legit chance to go 10-2. Amazing turn considering how many folks were dumping on em
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 1, 2016
This was part of a nice showing for the Big Ten, and Mandel joked about the fare at Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney’s house:
Five Big Ten teams in the Top 12. Steak and lobsters at Delany’s tonight.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 1, 2016
“Group of Five” teams will keep their eyes on the Top 25, as the conferences’ highest-ranked champion will be guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game—if that team doesn’t qualify for the playoff. At No. 23, Western Michigan was one spot above Boise State in the committee’s initial rankings, but pundits such as Nick Filipowski of WKBW in Buffalo didn’t like the spot:
Western Michigan getting no respect in #CFBPlayoff Poll.
— Nick Filipowski (@NICK_WKBW) November 1, 2016
There are still four more weeks of regular-season games plus conference title games in most leagues. Plenty can and likely will change, meaning the arguments are only getting started.
All that matters, though, is that the committee finds the best four teams to play for the National Championship.
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