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College Football Playoff rankings: Alabama in top 4 of first official top 25 despite loss

The Playoff committee's first rankings of the year have arrived. See which number goes next to your team's name now!

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Hey, the weekly College Football Playoff rankings are back. They'll be updated five times, and then we'll have a postseason. Clemson is your No. 1, and the full picture is below.

Here's a thing to keep in mind: this all matters only so much. At this point last year, the top four was Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss. Only FSU was still in the top four five weeks later.

However, last year's initial top four included three SEC West teams who'd have chances to knock each other out, with three scheduled games among themselves still to go. The top is less zero-sum this time, with LSU-Alabama the only game left between top-six teams. (Yep, Bama's in the top six despite a loss. The advanced stats agree, for what it's worth.)

Also, last year's first rankings only included two undefeated teams: MSU and FSU. This time, FBS has 11, about twice as many as normal. Does this make the first set of rankings more or less likely to impact the final ones? Well, I don't know. Do you?

Playoff committee ranking S&P+ ranking Best win, per S&P+ Worst loss, per S&P+ If the season ended today
1 Clemson (8-0) 1 Notre Dame Orange Bowl vs. Alabama
2 LSU (7-0) 6 Florida Cotton Bowl vs. Ohio State
3 Ohio State (8-0) 4 Penn State Cotton Bowl vs. LSU
4 Alabama (7-1) 2 Wisconsin Ole Miss Orange Bowl vs. Clemson
5 Notre Dame (7-1) 9 USC at Clemson Fiesta or Peach
6 Baylor (7-0) 5 West Virginia Sugar Bowl
7 Michigan State (8-0) 23 at Michigan New Year's bowl, potentially Rose*
8 TCU (8-0) 7 West Virginia New Year's bowl
9 Iowa (8-0) 16 at Wisconsin New Year's bowl, potentially Rose*
10 Florida (7-1) 10 Ole Miss at LSU Sugar Bowl
11 Stanford (7-1) 17 at USC at Northwestern Rose Bowl
12 Utah (7-1) 24 Michigan at USC
13 Memphis (8-0) 34 Ole Miss Fiesta or Peach**
14 Oklahoma State (8-0) 35 at West Virginia
15 Oklahoma (7-1) 8 West Virginia Texas
16 Florida State (7-1) 14 Louisville at Georgia Tech
17 Michigan (6-2) 3 BYU at Utah
18 Ole Miss (7-2) 12 at Alabama at Memphis
19 Texas A&M (6-2) 37 Mississippi State at Ole Miss
20 Mississippi State (6-2) 21 Louisiana Tech at Texas A&M
21 Northwestern (6-2) 49 Stanford Iowa
22 Temple (7-1) 39 Penn State Notre Dame
23 UCLA (6-2) 19 BYU Arizona State
24 Toledo (7-0) 20 Arkansas
25 Houston (8-0) 31 at Louisville

* The Rose loses its Big Ten champ to the Playoff and thus gets to pick between eligible Big Ten teams.

** The highest-ranked non-power champ is guaranteed a spot.


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How do you feel about this?

For many, the bigger surprises here will include Memphis and Iowa. The Tigers actually have a pretty good strength-of-schedule argument, playing at least as many good teams as any of the Big 12's contenders have, while the Hawkeyes have been underrated by the polls for at least a couple weeks now.

TCU's pretty low, likely due to a combo of a soft schedule and multiple too-close wins.

All of this makes what was already going to be the biggest Saturday of the year just a little bigger, with LSU-Alabama, FSU-Clemson and TCU-Oklahoma State now having official numbers next to all names involved.

In case you need a refresh on how the committee works, here's a reminder of which members can't vote for which teams and so forth.

And if the SB Nation Selection Committee was in charge of things, the top four would be Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Baylor/Alabama, because we don't have to break ties, because we're not in charge of anything: