The College Football Playoff announced its first preliminary rankings Tuesday night. This means we got our first glimpse at what the selection committee is thinking, after years of speculating about what the committee will value and decades of demanding a playoff system in the first place.
The 12-member committee has met every week and spent the last two days discussing its initial top 25 over the course of 12 hours. It will release a weekly ranking from now until the last week of the season, with that last ranking deciding the matchups in the Playoff and the four other New Year's Six bowls. This week's technically means nothing, but it does show which teams have the inside tracks and which have ground to make up.
Here's the full official ranking, led by Mississippi State and the defending national champions, Florida State, with Auburn a potential surprise up at No. 3. We've also listed each ranked team's toughest remaining opponent, according to Football Outsiders' F/+ rating, and the postseason destinations if the season ended right now.
College Football Playoff
|Rank||Team||Conference||Toughest opponent left (per F/+)||If the season ended today ...|
|1||Mississippi State||SEC||Ole Miss||Sugar Bowl vs. Ole Miss|
|2||Florida State||ACC||Louisville||Rose Bowl vs. Auburn|
|3||Auburn||SEC||Ole Miss||Rose Bowl vs. Florida State|
|4||Ole Miss||SEC||Auburn||Sugar Bowl vs. Mississippi State|
|5||Oregon||Pac-12||Stanford||New Year's bowl|
|7||TCU||Big 12||Kansas State||New Year's bowl|
|8||Michigan State||Big Ten||Ohio State||New Year's bowl|
|9||Kansas State||Big 12||TCU||New Year's bowl|
|10||Notre Dame||Independent||Louisville||New Year's bowl|
|14||Arizona State||Pac-12||Notre Dame|
|16||Ohio State||Big Ten||Michigan State|
|20||West Virginia||Big 12||TCU|
|21||Clemson||ACC||Georgia Tech||Orange Bowl*|
|23||East Carolina||American||UCF||New Year's bowl*|
* The Orange Bowl takes the highest-rated non-Playoff teams from the ACC and from a Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame group. The highest-rated non-power-conference champion is also guaranteed a New Year's Bowl spot.
What do you think? Who's too high? Too low? What's the biggest surprise?