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5 things 2017’s 1st College Football Playoff rankings got right (and 3 they got wrong)

The first committee top 25 of the year is now out, and there are only a few minor things to quibble about.

Georgia v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Updated 2017 College Football Playoff rankings

Rank Team Next
Rank Team Next
1 Georgia, 8-0 South Carolina, -24
2 Alabama, 8-0 LSU, -21
3 Notre Dame, 7-1 Wake Forest, -14
4 Clemson, 7-1 at NC State, -7
5 Oklahoma, 7-1 at Oklahoma State, +3
6 Ohio State, 7-1 at Iowa, -17
7 Penn State, 7-1 at Michigan State, -7.5
8 TCU, 7-1 Texas, -7
9 Wisconsin, 8-0 at Indiana, -10
10 Miami, 7-0 Virginia Tech, +2.5
11 Oklahoma State, 7-1 Oklahoma, -3
12 Washington, 7-1 Oregon, -24
13 Virginia Tech, 7-1 at Miami, -2.5
14 Auburn, 6-2 at Texas A&M, -15
15 Iowa State, 6-2 at West Virginia, +2.5
16 Mississippi State, 6-2 UMass, -28
17 USC, 7-2 Arizona, -7.5
18 UCF, 7-0 at SMU, -14
19 LSU, 6-2 at Alabama, +21
20 NC State, 6-2 Clemson, +7
21 Stanford, 6-2 at Washington State, +2
22 Arizona, 6-2 at USC, +7.5
23 Memphis, 7-1 at Tulsa, -12
24 Michigan State, 6-2 Penn State, +7.5
25 Washington State, 7-2 Stanford, -2

Right: The 3-through-6 range

Notre Dame's got three wins over committee-ranked teams (more than half the top 10 combined), and its only loss is by one point to No. 1.

Clemson has two wins over top-14 teams, and its only loss (Syracuse) was a close one on short-week travel amid a QB injury.

Ohio State's been better than Oklahoma in roughly seven of eight weeks this year, but Oklahoma was way better than Ohio State in the one that mattered most. Head-to-head isn't everything, but planting the flag at somebody else's house must count for something.

Wrong: UCF down at No. 18

In three years and counting, the committee's never ranked a mid-major higher than No. 13.

UCF's blown out Memphis and Navy, along with everything else on the schedule. It's a shame the Knights didn't get to play Georgia Tech at home, because of a weather cancelation. That would've likely added a win over a Power 5 bowl team.

I'd have UCF in the 13-through-16 range. Strength of Record: No. 13. S&P+: No. 5. CPI: No. 2.

The Knights can inch up the rankings with a nice win over 6-2 SMU.

Right: Miami and Wisconsin with something to prove

Miami's won four straight one-score games, and not exactly against great teams. Wisconsin's played nobody better than 5-3 Northwestern, which got blown out by a bad Duke. Compare that to TCU winning big in Stillwater or Ohio State blasting team after team.

(Bama's list of beaten teams isn't any better than UW's, but all the numbers prefer the Tide.)

Right: Arizona and Memphis in the house

I think the Tigers have a better resume than No. 21 Stanford or No. 24 Michigan State right now, so it's nice to see them ranked. They've only lost at UCF and beaten Houston, Navy, and UCLA. S&P+ gives them a top-10 offense (let's not talk about defense), and CPI ranks this resume No. 9.

Arizona's more than just Khalil Tate running wild. The Wildcats have blown out Washington State and only lost two close games to decent teams. S&P+ has their offense No. 5 (let's continue not talking about defense).

Slightly wrong: Penn State over TCU

TCU won comfortably at Oklahoma State. Penn State's best win was either a last-second deal at Iowa or a win over Michigan's third-best QB. Going beyond the scoreboard on their losses, and it's clear Penn State got crushed in the trenches, while TCU topped Iowa State on a per-play basis, but missed a lot of potential INTs.

Penn State can improve its claim by beating Michigan State like a top-10 team should.

Right: Auburn as the top two-loss team

The numbers all like War Eagle, their losses were close ones on the road to Clemson and LSU, and they whapped Mississippi State. With No. 1 and No. 2 both coming to town, Auburn's the two-loss team that still has a (hilariously difficult) Playoff path.

Really slightly wrong: Washington over Virginia Tech

Tough one to figure out. Both teams have two wins over teams with winning records, and VT's two seem like the best of that group, over West Virginia and Boston College. VT lost to No. 4 Clemson, not 4-4 Arizona State.

This will be sorted one way or the other after VT plays Miami.

Right: Georgia at No. 1

I did three different posts by Tuesday night that revolved around UGA's case for No. 1, so lemme just paste from the latest:

Out of the five undefeated teams, Georgia has the two best wins: at Notre Dame and a blowout of No. 16 Mississippi State. Otherwise, it’s splattered teams with a ruthless defense and with the absolute basics on offense.

Alabama’s best win, unranked Texas A&M, just got rocked at home by that MSU team Georgia owned. Miami tries pretty hard each week to lose. Wisconsin’s played nobody in particular. UCF might have a better case than the Canes or Badgers at the moment, but the committee’s never ranked a non-power higher than No. 13.

(Bama’s business picks up soon, with a run of LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, and probably Georgia. Likewise, Miami and Wisconsin just need to keep doing the most important thing: not losing.)

Everybody else has a loss.

Oh, and if Clemson gets credit for losing close with its backup QB, UGA should get credit for remaining undefeated with its backup QB. Jake Fromm is a true freshman who got his first start after Jacob Eason went down.

There’s still a long way to go.

We still have four full weekends and Conference Championship Week. If you’re a Power 5 team with only one loss, you’re not out yet.

  • In the first three years’ initial rankings, a non-Alabama SEC team started in the top four. 2014 Auburn, 2015 LSU, and 2016 Texas A&M finished in the teens or worse. Alabama was the only SEC team to make each Playoff.
  • However, each of those years had a team start in the teens and finish in the Playoff (2014 Ohio State, 2015 Oklahoma) or just outside of it at No. 5 (2016 Penn State).