Who’s in? My top four picks for the first round of College Football Playoff rankings

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

By the time these words are published Wednesday morning, the official College Football Playoff committee will have its first round of rankings fresh for the country to mull over.

Regardless of who is in those top four slots, things will shake up and get jumbled around by the time the final rankings are released on Dec. 3.

Still, as fans, we like to argue and ponder and wonder what will happen, so the rankings this week only help feed our college football obsessions.

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Here’s my Top Four, based on my own arbitrary criteria, strength of schedule and the all mighty eye test. This will most likely change drastically over the coming weeks.

No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0 SEC)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I’m a Georgia fan. But I believe they have earned the No. 1 spot above all other teams because of their dominance on a weekly basis. The one game they didn’t blow out their opponent was against Notre Dame in South Bend, where the Dawgs won 20-19 with a freshman first-time starting quarterback. Nobody thought the Fighting Irish would be where they are today (7-1) while also dominating most all of their opponents. Everyone praises and then falls victim to the Notre Dame running game, but Georgia stopped it in its tracks for a measly 55 total rushing yards. The Dawgs are legit and have one of the best wins in the country, bar none.

No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC)

Bama is Bama. There’s really not a whole lot to say about how the Tide has played this year, because every game has been a slaughter party. The only problem is the competition they have played is… not quite to the level of Georgia. We all thought Florida State (Preseason No. 3) was going to make a playoff run this year, and looks where the Noles are now (2-5 and unranked). Alabama beat them 24-7 to kick off the season, but that win looks less and less attractive as FSU continues to lose. Alabama also struggled to an unranked Texas A&M. Although they won 27-19, the Tide let the Aggies hang around for one too many drives, keeping the game a lot closer than it should have been. Even still, Alabama has taken care of business and there is a 99 percent chance they finish the regular schedule 12-0.

No. 3 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 Big 10)

With Saturday night’s game still fresh on everybody’s mind, it’s hard to not put the Buckeyes ahead of Alabama. The thriller against former No. 2 Penn State at the Horseshoe gave Ohio State a much needed signature conference win. Earlier in the season, Ohio State was blown apart by Oklahoma, but have since gone on a six-game win streak that was almost ruined by the Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes should handle their next four games well enough, but things always get weird in November. Iowa can surprise, Michigan State is a Top 10 team if not for an out-of-character loss to Northwestern, Illinois is a cakewalk and Michigan is… well, the ultimate rival. The Buckeyes control their destiny in the Big 10 East and will likely face Wisconsin in the conference championship game. If they win, I expect them to be No. 2 in the country heading into the playoffs, behind the undefeated SEC champion.

No. 4 Notre Dame (7-1)

I strongly dislike Notre Dame. Always have, and I think I always will. Their arrogance in not joining a conference and failure to deliver on insane hype year in and year out makes me groan. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for the football team’s accomplishments over the past century. The Fighting Irish should be proud, even if it makes me grind my teeth. This year, their fans have a lot to cheer for. The would be undefeated if it weren’t for a 1-point loss to the best team in the country. Their offense is lights out and their defense keeps opponents out of games long enough for them to give up. I can’t help but to appreciate how good Notre Dame looked against Michigan State, USC and NC State. Two more games on the schedule, Miami and Stanford, will be must watches for me. I think they can win out.

On the outside looking in I have No. 5 Clemson, who lost inconceivably to Syracuse, and No. 6 Penn State.