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Look Ahead at First CFP Ranking

It is officially November, which means it is time for the first College Football Playoff rankings to be released. Tuesday’s CFP ranking will be the first of six releases. which concludes with selection day on Dec. 4.

So, who’s in and who’s out? Let’s take a look at what we expect to see in the first rankings.

Clear Number 1?

The Georgia Bulldogs are expected to come in at No. 1. In the AP Poll, the Bulldogs have 30 of the 63 first-place votes. Ohio State and Tennessee split the rest of the votes.

Georgia looked a little shaky at points in the second half against Florida, as well as a few weeks ago against Missouri. Aside from that, Georgia has been dominant.

Stetson Bennett has looked great thus far in the season, throwing for almost 2,400 yards and accumulating 14 total touchdowns. He has had a lot of support on offense from standout tight end Brock Bowers. The Bulldogs also feature a dual threat in the backfield with Daijun Edwards and Kenny McIntosh. With this group, Georgia is second in the nation in total yards and sixth in points per game.


The defensive side has been just as good, if not better, for Georgia. The extremely talented group has led the defense to be top-5 in the nation in yards allowed per game and second in the nation in points given up per game. However, the defense takes a big hit with the loss of Nolan Smith, the star linebacker who will miss the rest of the year with a torn pectoral muscle.

Nonetheless, with one of the best offenses and defenses in the country, expect the reigning Nation Champions to be atop the first CFP ranking.

Battle for CFP No. 2 and No. 3

As we saw in the AP Poll, the battle for the second spot in the CFP top-4 will be tight. Tennessee and Ohio State were tied at No. 2 in the most recent AP poll released Sunday.  Both teams have accumulated a decent share of first-place votes. But how will the CFP committee view these teams?

Led by Heisman hopeful Hendon Hooker, the Tennessee offense has been among the top in the nation all season long. The Volunteers currently lead the nation in yards per game and points per game, averaging nearly 50.

Hooker has certainly elevated his game in his senior year as he has 25 total touchdowns and just one interception.

The spot where the Volunteers could be beaten is on the defensive side of the ball. Tennessee allows almost 400 yards per contest, which is tenth in the SEC in yards allowed per game.

Ohio State has a Heisman hopeful of its own in C.J. Stroud, who leads another potent offense. The Buckeyes are sixth in the nation in yards per game and second in the nation in points scored per game. Stroud has led the way with 29 passing touchdowns, which are tied for most in the nation.

The defense has been solid as well. The team ranks inside the top-10 in the nation in both yards allowed per game and points allowed per game.

The committee’s decision may come down to who has the better resume. According to ESPN, Ohio State is ranked No. 1 in the Football Power Index as well as No. 2 in strength of record. Tennessee is No. 1 in strength of record, but ESPN has the Volunteers at No. 5 in the Football Power Index.

Who Gets No. 4?

As we see every year, there is not a clear No. 4. Four teams in the AP Top-25 poll are within 200 points of the fourth spot, although the Michigan Wolverines currently hold the No. 4 spot.

Jim Harbaugh has a well-rounded Wolverine group in Ann Arbor. Michigan is in the top-10 nationally in points per game, yards allowed per game and points allowed per game. The brightest spot of the Wolverines has been running back Blake Corum. He has already surpassed 1,000 yards on the year as well as 14 touchdowns on the ground.

Clemson also makes a good case for No. 4. The Tigers are undefeated and have played well for most of the year. However, back-to-back close games against Florida State and Syracuse have slowed down the momentum in Clemson. The quarterback situation is also something to keep an eye on. Starter DJ Uiagalelei was benched in the comeback win against Syracuse last week for Cade Klubnik. Although Dabo Swinney has announced that Uiagalelei remains the starter, it is something to watch as we move down the stretch.

Alabama and TCU are two that could potentially slip in if the committee feels they have outplayed Michigan or Ohio State. It would be surprising to see Alabama jump undefeated Clemson and Michigan into the top-4, although Alabama’s lone loss is to the Volunteers. TCU also remains undefeated but has some questions on the defensive side of the ball, giving up almost 30 points per game.

All of the questions will be answered Tuesday. Tune in to the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

About Matt Quartararo

Matt is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports media and is also completing a sports management certificate. Starting in the Fall 2023 semester, Matt has served as a sports coordinator with WRUF. He also participates in sports broadcasting, providing play-by-play for a variety of Gators sports.

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