It's a small sample size, sure, but the brief history of the College Football Playoff rankings shows that teams outside the initial four have no reason to think they'll miss out on the playoff.
Of the eight teams placed in the Top 4 in the first two years of the CFP, only three were part of the top four in the initial rankings. In addition, teams on the cusp (looking at you Washington) have reason to be optimistic. A No. 5, No. 6 and a No. 7 have all been part of the semifinal games.
If you're say, an LSU or a Florida - really anyone in the mid-teens, there is also evidence that your situation is far from helpless. The 2014-2015 Champ (Ohio State at No. 16) and a 2015-2016 semifinalist (Oklahoma at No. 15) both climbed into contention from these elevated spots.
This isn't super surprising, of course. It's only two years and the fact is front runners can only generally move in one direction.
Judging by the short history, you can also expect one of the current four (Alabama, Clemson, Michigan or Texas A&M) to drop into the back of the pack. Auburn was No. 3 in 2014 and was No 19 in final CFP poll prior to the bowls. LSU faced that fate in 2015. Dropping from No 2 to No. 20.
And a few more facts for you:
- Each year, one team has made its first and only appearance in the final top 4 (National Champs Ohio State in 2014 and Michigan State in 2015)
- Alabama has been ranked in top four the most of any team: 10 (or 11 counting 2016's first poll) of a total of 13 polls (or 14 counting 2016).
|2014 INITIAL CFP RANKINGS||FINAL CFP|
|1. Mississippi State||No. 7|
|2. Florida State||No. 3|
|3. Auburn||No. 19|
|4. Mississippi||No. 9|
|2015 INITIAL CFP RANKINGS||FINAL CFP|
|1. Clemson||No. 1|
|2. LSU||No. 20|
|3. Ohio State||No. 7|
|4. Alabama (National Champs)||No. 2|