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Georgia No. 1, Alabama No. 2 in initial set of College Football Playoff rankings

College Football Playoff
KEVIN JAIRAJ/USA TODAY

SEC teams are atop the first set of College Football Playoff rankings, with Georgia No. 1 and fellow unbeaten Alabama No. 2.

This is the first time any league has had the top two teams in the standings. In addition, it means the SEC has had at least two teams in the top four in the initial standings of the season in all four years of the playoff’s existence. No league ever has had two teams make the four-team field, though.

Notre Dame, whose only loss is to Georgia, is third, followed by one-loss teams Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State and TCU. The other two unbeaten Power Five teams, Wiscconsin and Miami, are ninth and 10th, respectively.

The top-ranked Group of Five team is unbeaten UCF, which is 18th. The only other Group of Five team in the top 25 is Memphis at No. 23; the Tigers’ only loss is to UCF.

The SEC has three other teams in the top 25: Auburn at 14th, Mississippi State at 16th and LSU at 19th. The Pac-12 also has five teams in the rankings, though the highest is Washington at No. 12. The ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 have four each, the AAC has two and there is one independent.

RELATED: This week’s SEC Power Rankings

As to why Georgia is ranked ahead of Alabama, CFP selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said it came down to the schedules.

“The committee discussed at great length the strengths of Georgia and Alabama,” Hocutt said. “While both teams are currently undefeated, the committee gave a slight edge to Georgia because of their win on the road against a
very strong Notre Dame (team).”

Hocutt also mentioned the committee had a “passionate debate” about who should be No. 1 between Alabama and Georgia, then described it as “some of the most passionate discussion that I’ve seen the selection committee have in my two-plus years being a part of this committee.”

Expect some major shakeups next week, as there are a staggering seven games this weekend matching ranked teams: Alabama-LSU, Arizona-USC, Clemson-North Carolina State, Miami-Virginia Tech, Michigan State-Penn State, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and Stanford-Washington State.

The selection committee will have five more rankings, including the final set Sunday, December 3. The top four teams in the final rankings meet in the semifinals January 1; the semifinals this season will be played in the Rose and Sugar bowls.

The top-10 schedules the rest of the way

1. Georgia: Saturday, vs. South Carolina (6-2); November 11, at Auburn (6-2); November 18, vs. Kentucky (6-2); November 25, at Georgia Tech (4-3); December 2, possible SEC championship game.

2. Alabama: Saturday, vs. LSU (6-2); November 11, at Mississippi State (6-2); November 18, vs. Mercer (4-4/FCS opponent); November 25, at Auburn (6-2); December 2, possible SEC championship game.

3. Notre Dame (7-1): Saturday, vs. Wake Forest (5-3); November 11, at Miami (7-0); November 18, vs. Navy (5-2); November 25, at Stanford (6-2).

4. Clemson (7-1): Saturday, at NC State (6-2); November 11, vs. Florida State (2-5); November 18, vs. The Citadel (5-3/FCS opponent); November 25, at South Carolina (6-2); December 2, possible ACC championship game.

5. Oklahoma (7-1): Saturday, at Oklahoma State (7-1); November 11, vs. TCU (7-1); November 18, at Kansas (1-7); November 25, vs. West Virginia (5-3); December 2, possible Big 12 championship game.

6. Ohio State (7-1): Saturday, at Iowa (5-3); November 11, vs. Michigan State (6-2); November 18, vs. Illinois (2-6); November 25, at Michigan (6-2); December 2, possible Big Ten championship game.

7. Penn State (7-1): Saturday, at Michigan State (6-2); November 11, vs. Rutgers (3-5); November 18, vs. Nebraska (4-4); November 25, at Maryland (4-4); December 2, possible Big Ten championship game.

8. TCU (7-1): Saturday, vs. Texas (4-4); November 11, at Oklahoma (7-1); November 18, at Texas Tech (4-4); November 24, vs. Baylor (0-8); December 2, possible Big 12 championship game.

9. Wisconsin (8-0): Saturday, at Indiana (3-5); November 11, vs. Iowa (5-3); November 18, vs. Michigan (6-2); November 25, at Minnesota (4-4); December 2, possible Big Ten championship game.

10. Miami (7-0): Saturday, vs. Virginia Tech (7-1); November 11, vs. Notre Dame (7-1); November 18, vs. Virginia (5-3); November 25, at Pitt (4-5); December 2, possible ACC championship game.

RELATED: GN’s updated College Football Playoff, bowl projections

Here’s a look at the initial CFP rankings in each of the first three seasons of the playoff, as well as the four teams that eventually made the playoff field.

2014

1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Auburn
4. Ole Miss
The eventual four: 1. Alabama (6th in initial rankings); 2. Oregon (5th); 3. Florida State (2nd); 4. Ohio State (16th)

2015

1. Clemson
2. LSU
3. Ohio State
4. Alabama
The eventual four: 1. Clemson (1st); 2. Alabama (4th); 3. Michigan State (7th); 4. Oklahoma (15th)

2016

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Michigan
4. Texas A&M
The eventual four: 1. Alabama (1st); 2. Clemson (2nd); 3. Ohio State (6th); 4. Washington (5th).

RELATED: The coaching carousel in the SEC could spin wildly — and be mighty crowded

(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)

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