(ESPN) — Being undefeated doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the top four of the College Football Playoff, as Alabama at 7-1 joins undefeated Clemson (No. 1) , LSU (No. 2) and defending champion Ohio State (No. 3) atop the season’s first rankings.
If we learned anything from the first College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, it was this: You can’t pin the selection committee down on any one, single criterion.
Although ranked seventh in the AP poll, the Tide leaped over unbeatens such as Baylor, TCU and Michigan State in the season’s first CFP rankings.
Like Alabama (No. 4), Notre Dame is also 7-1 and, at No. 5 in the CFP, was also seeded ahead of Baylor (No. 6), Michigan State (No. 7) and TCU (No. 8).
The unveiling of the CFP rankings turns Saturday night’s matchup between LSU and Alabama in Tuscaloosa into a potential playoff preview.
Although likely happy to have his team atop the first iteration of the selection committee’s rankings, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said earlier Tuesday that he’s holding out for more.
“The only poll that we’re excited about is Dec. 6, and I promise you we’ll have the biggest poll party you’ve seen,” Swinney told reporters Tuesday at his weekly news conference, according to The State. “We’ll open up Death Valley and serve pizza to everybody. That’ll be a time to celebrate a poll. Until then, it doesn’t matter.”
The Buckeyes, ranked No. 1 all season in the AP and coaches’ polls, were expected to be a juggernaut this season but have not looked the part. Fresh off winning the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, Urban Meyer’s team was expected to roll this year, but inconsistent play out of returning quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, coupled with lackluster victories, have apparently had an effect on how the selection committee views Ohio State.
Iowa (No. 9) and Florida (No. 10) round out the top 10 in the CFP.
The only team ranked in the AP top 10 but not the CFP top 10 is Stanford, which checked in at No. 11, flipping spots with the Gators.
Behind Stanford at No. 12 is fellow Pac-12 member Utah. The Utes are followed by undefeated Memphis, undefeated Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Memphis is the top team out of a non-Power 5 conference.
At No. 16 is Florida State, which joins Clemson as the only ACC teams in the CFP rankings. The two will meet Saturday, with the Tigers looking to wrap up an Atlantic Division title with a victory.
In his first year back at his alma mater, Jim Harbaugh has Michigan sitting at No. 17 in this season’s first CFP rankings. The Wolverines are followed by a trio of SEC teams: Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Mississippi State.
The SEC leads the way with six ranked teams.
Northwestern, Temple, UCLA, Toledo and Houston cap the CFP selection committee’s top 25 rankings.