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Andy Wittry | | November 3, 2021

College Football Playoff rankings: Georgia, Alabama, Michigan State, Oregon headline first top 25

College Football Playoff rankings: Georgia, Alabama head first release

The wait is over. The College Football Playoff selection committee released the first edition of the CFP rankings for the 2021 season on Tuesday night, giving college football fans a window into how the top teams in the country stack up in the committee's eyes.

Here are the first CFP rankings for the 2021 season.

College Football Playoff rankings: Top 25 for Week 10




1 Georgia 8-0
2 Alabama 7-1
3 Michigan State 8-0
4 Oregon 7-1
5 Ohio State 7-1
6 Cincinnati 8-0
7 Michigan 7-1
8 Oklahoma 9-0
9 Wake Forest 8-0
10 Notre Dame 7-1
11 Oklahoma State 7-1
12 Baylor 7-1
13 Auburn 6-2
14 Texas A&M 6-2
15 BYU 7-2
16 Ole Miss 6-2
17 Mississippi State 5-3
18 Kentucky 6-2
19 NC State 6-2
20 Minnesota 6-2
21 Wisconsin 5-3
22 Iowa 6-2
23 Fresno State 7-2
24 San Diego State 7-2
25 Pittsburgh 6-2

Here's the current top four

If the season ended after Week 9, Georgia, Alabama, Michigan State and Oregon would be the top four teams for the College Football Playoff. Each school has made the playoff at least once; in fact, three of the four — Georgia, Michigan State and Oregon — have each made the CFP once, while Alabama has appeared in the playoff six times.

This is just the third week ever that Georgia has been ranked No. 1 in the CFP rankings. The Bulldogs appeared at No. 1 twice during the 2017 season.

Where is Cincinnati ranked?

Arguably the most significant question in Tuesday night's reveal was regarding Cincinnati, which has spent weeks ranked No. 2 in the AP poll. The Bearcats are one of the six remaining undefeated teams in the country through Week 9 and they made their 2021 debut in the CFP rankings at No. 6, behind a trio of one-loss teams in Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State.

Cincinnati's No. 6 ranking is the highest ranking for a team outside of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, excluding Notre Dame, which is independent. While Cincinnati has a win over No. 10 Notre Dame, none of the Bearcats' upcoming opponents or potential opponent in the AAC Championship are ranked in the first CFP rankings.

How about the rest of the undefeated teams?

Two of the six remaining undefeated teams teams are ranked in the committee's top four, with Georgia at No. 1 and Michigan State at No. 3. Oklahoma and Wake Forest checked in at No. 8 and No. 9, behind four one-loss teams, while UTSA, which is 8-0, didn't appear in the committee's rankings.

We told you there would be two three-loss teams

But we went 1-for-2 on which teams those would be. In our CFP rankings projections for Week 10, we said Penn State and Wisconsin would check in at No. 22 and No. 23 after each team went 5-3 through Week 9. The Badgers checked in at No. 21, while the Nittany Lions weren't ranked, but Mississippi State (5-3) was ranked No. 17.

In the first seven years of the CFP era, the first CFP rankings of the season have only featured a combined five three-loss teams out of the 175 total teams that have been ranked, so three-loss teams have been rare at this point in the season.

Differences between the AP poll and CFP rankings

Among teams that are ranked in the CFP rankings and the latest AP poll, undefeated Cincinnati and Oklahoma marked the greatest sources of disagreement. Each school was ranked four spots worse in the CFP rankings — No. 6 and No. 8, respectively — compared to its respective AP poll ranking. Iowa was three spots worse in the CFP rankings at No. 22.

Among schools that appeared in both rankings, Oregon was the school with the biggest positive improvement from the latest AP poll to the CFP rankings, as it was three spots better, debuting at No. 4 in the CFP rankings compared to its No. 7 ranking in the AP poll. Every other school that appeared in both was plus or minus two spots in the two sets of rankings.

UTSA was ranked No. 16 in the AP poll in Week 9 but the Roadrunners weren't ranked in the CFP rankings, which was the biggest single disparity as far as the difference in the number of spots between the two ranking systems. The aforementioned three-loss Mississippi State team represents the team with the biggest gap in the opposite direction — No. 17 in the CFP rankings and fourth among "others receiving votes" in the AP poll, which is the equivalent of No. 29.

There's an 11-spot gap between Minnesota's CFP ranking (No. 20) and its standing in the AP poll (sixth among "others receiving votes," or the equivalent of No. 31).

Houston checked in at No. 20 in the latest AP poll after being previously undefeated SMU on a walk-off kickoff return for a touchdown and the Cougars were not in Week 10 CFP rankings. The same goes for No. 21 Coastal Carolina, No. 23 SMU and No. 24 Louisiana.

Clemson makes history (but not in a good way)

Clemson has appeared in the College Football Playoff six times, which is tied with Alabama for the most appearances ever, and like Alabama (and Ohio State), the Tigers had never not appeared in one of the weekly CFP rankings.

That changed on Tuesday night, when Clemson wasn't included in the CFP rankings after its 5-3 start to the season, leaving the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes as the only programs to bat 1.000 in terms of being included in all 43 CFP rankings to date.

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