Georgia gets top spot in first College Football Playoff ranking of '17; Penn State ranked 7th
NEW YORK — A couple of games played during Week 2 had a major effect on the first College Football Playoff rankings.
Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson were the top four teams in the selection committee's initial top 25 released Tuesday night.
Oklahoma, Ohio State and Penn State were next as the committee members let head-to-head results and strength of schedule be their guide. The final rankings that will determine the participants in the College Football Playoff semifinals come out Dec. 3.
Georgia and Alabama, SEC rivals, are 8-0 and have been dominating their competition. The Bulldogs' one close game was at Notre Dame in September, a 20-19 victory.
Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt, the athletic director for Texas Tech, said the Bulldogs had a slight edge over the Crimson Tide because of their victory against the Irish on Sept. 9.
The Fighting Irish (7-1) have not lost since, including blowouts of Michigan State (24th), USC (17th) and N.C. State (20th). Hocutt said those three victories against teams in the committee's top 25, along with the close loss to Georgia is the reason for the Irish being the highest ranked in a group of one-loss teams from three to seven.
“The teams ranked three through seven are very evenly matched,” Hocutt said.
On the same night Georgia beat Notre Dame, Oklahoma went to Columbus, Ohio, and beat the Buckeyes, 31-16.
“For the teams five through seven, their head-to-head results were very important to the committee,” Hocutt said.
In the AP Top 25, Ohio State was No. 3, Penn State No. 7 and Oklahoma was No. 8. Those rankings had some Sooners wondering if the committee would do something similar. They were happy to find out that was not the case.
“We all just watched it as a team just now,” Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo said. “We were all just jumping around yelling. Everybody's hungry. We feel like our foot's in the door, so we want to go ahead and make it happen.”
Over the first three seasons of the playoff, five teams were ranked in the top four of the initial ranking and gone on to reach the semifinals: Florida State (which was second) in 2014; Clemson (first) and Alabama (fourth) in 2015; and Alabama (first) and Clemson (second) in 2016.