Originally found on Fox Sports:
Oct. 31, 2023 1:49 p.m. ET
The season’s first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday night and history suggests that it will be about as good as it gets for two of the teams in the top four.
The first of six rankings sets the table for a month of stress and scrutiny on the top teams and their performances. The final rankings will be released Dec. 3, after the conference championship games, and those set the four-team playoff field, with semifinals at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl ahead of the national championship game Jan. 8 in Houston.
Next year, the CFP expands to 12 teams. Four is the magic number for now and rarely in the nine previous years of the playoff have all four teams in the initial rankings made it to the actual playoff.
Just once have the initial CFP rankings revealed the eventual playoff field. That was 2020, the pandemic season, which was far from normal in so many ways.
The lesson: Don’t let the first rankings stress you out. Some things to keep an eye on.
WHO’S NO. 1?
It doesn’t matter all that much because there are plenty of games left to sort it out. Two of the best teams in the country, Georgia and Michigan, haven’t played the toughest of schedules yet.
The Bulldogs and Wolverines have been Nos. 1 and 2 in the AP Top 25 poll since the preseason. The committee’s rankings don’t always match the AP poll but do tend to be pretty close.
Seven times the Crimson Tide have been ranked in the committee’s initial top four. Six of those years, Alabama went on to make the playoff and it has three CFP titles.
The only time Alabama was not in the initial top four but still made the playoff was 2014, when it started sixth.
Nick Saban’s team won’t be in the initial top four this year, not with one loss and five Power Five conference teams still unbeaten. But the Tide have been showing steady growth since losing to Texas in September.
What the committee thinks of ‘Bama will also impact what it thinks of the Longhorns.
“We have the best win in the country right now,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said.
GROUP OF FIVE
What the committee thinks of the teams outside the Power Five conferences is often more revealing early on than anything at the top of the rankings.
The highest-ranked Group of Five conference team at the end of the season isn’t going to contend for a playoff spot the way Cincinnati did in 2021, but it will get to play in a New Year’s Six game. This year, that’s the Fiesta Bowl.
Don’t hold your breath waiting to see unbeaten James Madison in the rankings. The Dukes are in Year 2 of their transition to the top tier of Division I and by NCAA rule are ineligible for the postseason.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
[Want great stories delivered right to your inbox? Create or log in to your FOX Sports account, follow leagues, teams and players to receive a personalized newsletter daily.]
COLLEGE FOOTBALL trending
Get more from College Football Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more