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Andy Wittry | | November 24, 2020

Alabama, Notre Dame lead the first College Football Playoff rankings of the 2020 season

CFP Rankings breakdown: Alabama, Notre Dame lead as Cincinnati posts record ranking

The College Football Playoff selection committee revealed their first rankings of the 2020 season on Tuesday night, bringing us one step closer to this season's playoff. As always, there were some surprises and shakeups compared to the AP poll, and is here to break down the complete rankings.

First, here are the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season.

2020 College Football Playoff rankings for Week 13





1 Alabama NR 7-0
2 Notre Dame NR 8-0
3 Clemson NR 7-1
4 Ohio State NR 4-0
5 Texas A&M NR 5-1
6 Florida NR 6-1
7 Cincinnati NR 8-0
8 Northwestern NR 5-0
9 Georgia NR 5-2
10 Miami (FL) NR 7-1
11 Oklahoma NR 6-2
12 Indiana NR 4-1
13 Iowa State NR 6-2
14 BYU NR 9-0
15 Oregon NR 3-0
16 Wisconsin NR 2-1
17 Texas NR 5-2
18 USC NR 3-0
19 North Carolina NR 6-2
20 Coastal Carolina NR 8-0
21 Marshall NR 7-0
22 Auburn NR 5-2
23 Oklahoma State NR 5-2
24 Iowa NR 3-2
25 Tulsa NR 5-1

Alabama is back on top of the CFP rankings

For the national-best 19th time, Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the CFP rankings — 11 more times than Clemson and 16 more times than Ohio State, LSU and Mississippi State.

The Crimson Tide bottomed out at No. 13 in the CFP rankings in Week 16 of the 2019 season after star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa got hurt and Alabama finished the regular season 10-2 with a loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl with then-backup quarterback Mac Jones starting.

Here's an incredible stat: From Week 11 of the 2014 season through Week 14 of the 2019 season, Alabama was never ranked outside of the top five in the CFP rankings — a span of 34 weeks. In 18 of those weeks (so more than half) the Crimson Tide were ranked No. 1.

Notre Dame earns its highest ranking ever

Despite making the 2018 College Football Playoff, Notre Dame had never been ranked higher than No. 3 in the CFP rankings, which might come as a surprise to some college football fans. That is until Tuesday night, when Notre Dame debuted at No. 2, fueled by a win over Clemson in South Bend.

The Fighting Irish had previously spent seven weeks at No. 3 in the CFP era.

Clemson is the highest-ranked one-loss team

The Tigers debuted at No. 3, which was one spot ahead of undefeated Ohio State. Clemson lost in double overtime to Notre Dame while playing without quarterback Trevor Lawrence, as well as several key defensive players.

While Clemson likely has less wiggle room than its other peers in the top four, the Tigers are very much in the mix for a playoff berth if they can win out.

Cincinnati earns highest ranking for Group of Five team

UCF peaked at No. 8 in the CFP ranking amid its back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and the Knights' ranking was bettered by Cincinnati on Tuesday night, when the Bearcats debuted at No. 7, which puts them within striking distance of the playoff if they win out and multiple teams ahead of them take on losses.

BYU is ranked much lower than its AP ranking

The undefeated BYU Cougars (9-0) are ranked No. 8 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, but they're ranked No. 14 in the first CFP rankings — six spots lower. Their best win was on the road against a Boise State squad that was ranked No. 21 in the AP at the time, and they haven't played any opponents from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC.

Welcome, newcomers

Indiana debuted at No. 12 in its first-ever appearance in the CFP rankings. Other newly ranked schools include No. 20 Coastal Carolina and No. 25 Tulsa.

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