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History shows you shouldn’t stress over the initial College Football Playoff rankings

In all four years, a team in the top four and a team in the teens have almost ended up trading places.

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State
Remember when everyone wrote this team off right away?
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Oct. 30, the first College Football Playoff rankings of the 2018 season will be released. Since that’s the day before Halloween, you might be a little scared where the committee will rank your team. But there is nothing to be afraid of!

The committee’s initial rankings look a good bit different than they do after Championship Saturday. Let’s take a look at the past four years of rankings at the beginning and end.

Oct. 28, 2014

Teams that fell: Like a third of the SEC West

When the first-ever CFP rankings came out, there were just two undefeated teams: Mississippi State and Florida State. The Bulldogs and Noles came in at No. 1 and No. 2, with Auburn at No. 3 (one ahead of its AP ranking) and Ole Miss at No. 4 (three ahead), each of them with one loss.

Multiple SEC teams in the top four! Lots of people didn’t care for all that #SECBias, but the committee isn’t afraid to show who it likes.

Besides, the rest of the schedule was going to take care of having so many teams from the same conference anyway. Ole Miss was about to lose to Auburn. Even if Ole Miss and Mississippi State ran the table, they’d play each other, knocking one of them out. Auburn and Mississippi State still had to play Alabama, too.

In the end, Bama was the SEC’s only Playoff team.

Team that soared: Ohio State

The Buckeyes started at No. 16 a few weeks after lots of sports media members decided OSU had been eliminated by Virginia Tech.

They finished 12-1 and No. 4 in the final rankings, thanks to a 59-0 win over No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. The committee gave the Buckeyes a bid over Big 12 co-champions TCU and Baylor because of schedule strength. The Buckeyes went on to defeat Oregon in the National Championship.

Nov. 3, 2015

Team that fell: LSU

Initial top-four teams Clemson and Alabama made the Playoff, but look at No. 2.

Multiple SEC teams in the top four again!

The Tigers’ ranking (two spots ahead of LSU’s AP ranking) lasted less than a week; Bama happened. The Tigers kept losing and dropped a whopping 18 spots.

In the end, Bama was again the SEC’s only Playoff team.

Team that soared: Oklahoma

Oklahoma was No. 15 in the first rankings and finished at 11-1 and the No. 4 spot. The Sooners finished with three straight wins over ranked Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 title.

Nov. 1, 2016

Team that fell: Texas A&M

You may not remember this, but the Aggies were No. 4 in the first rankings. TAMU ended up 8-5 and lost five out of its last seven games, a trend under Kevin Sumlin.

Multiple SEC teams in the top four again!

This was your quintessential bold move by the committee. TAMU (another SEC team ranked three spots ahead of its AP spot) was 7-1 with quality (at the time) wins over UCLA, Arkansas, and Tennessee and a 33-14 loss to No. 1 Alabama, a game the Aggies led at halftime.

In the end, Bama was again the SEC’s only Playoff team.

Team that soared: Penn State

Penn State started No. 12 and finished just outside the Playoff at No. 5, with a Rose Bowl berth against USC.

The Buckeyes’ loss to Penn State earlier in the season knocked them out of the Big Ten Championship, but the committee went with the team that lost fewer games, despite PSU being the Big Ten champ. If Ohio State hadn’t been 11-1 and impressed the committee overall, Penn State would’ve jumped from being a two-loss No. 12 all the way into the Playoff.

Oct. 31, 2017

Team that fell: Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish were No. 3 initially, and it looked like we could finally get an independent into the Playoff, to some fans’ dismay. But Notre Dame had beaten three ranked teams, more than anyone else at the time, and only a close loss to Georgia.

But Notre Dame’s Playoff hopes didn’t last long, with losses to Miami and Stanford on the way.

(#SECBias didn’t take a year off, with AP No. 1 Bama being jumped, but by CFP No. 1 Georgia.)

Team that soared: Auburn

The two-loss Tigers started 14th in the initial top 25 and soared as high as No. 2 after knocking off No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Although the Tigers’ loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship prevented them from making the Playoff, but Auburn was about a half of football away from beating the Dawgs and making it as the first ever two-loss team.

Oct. 30, 2018

Who’ll join the lists this time? We’ll update later!

So don’t stress over the first rankings.

In four years, two teams have started in the teens and still made it in, while a third came one spot away from doing so. Auburn nearly earned a bid as a two-loss team, but Georgia prevented that.

And in three years, three different SEC teams plummeted into the teens or lower, while Notre Dame did the same in 2017.

So whether you think a team from a certain conference is overrated or your team is out of the running, it’s clear a lot of changes are still ahead.